Home > Enterprise > Flux 2015: We Came, We Competed, We Won … well, almost!

Flux 2015: We Came, We Competed, We Won … well, almost!

The Flux 500 Business Challenge is a nationwide business competition, attracting teams from 16 business schools all over the UK. This year’s competition was held at the University of Lancaster, on 23 and 24 March 2015, and the University of Hertfordshire had 6 representatives, all from our Business Start-up Programme. The students who took part were:

  • Siann Millanaise – BA/BSc (Hons) Joint Honours                                                                                                          
  • Lukas Peter Motsch –  BA (Hons) Business Pathways                                                                                                  
  • Shirin Shafaie – MA Film and Television Production                                                                                                                
  • Patrik Stipak – BEng (Hons) in Electronic and Communications Engineering                                                                            
  • Mehmet Pacaci – BSc (Hons) Music Technology & Sound Design Technology                                                 
  • Kamrun Robinson – BA Hons International Business                                                                        

They were joined by Enterprise Adviser, Mohammed Ali, and performed exceptionally well to gain second place in their round, read Shirin’s story below: 

Excitement was building up in the room; Patrik was just adding the final touches to our pitch presentation when we heard our stream manager calling: “University of Hertfordshire, your turn now! Please make your way to the podium.”

“This is it”, we thought. We had worked very hard over the last 21 hours to solve a business puzzle involving the development of a wearable technology for a specific medical purpose. Now it was time to pitch our product and business plan to a panel of high-ranking judges representing major UK industries such as the BAE Systems, Santander Bank, and IBM, just to name a few.

University of Hertfordshire Flux 15 team back row, left-right: Patrik, Kamrun, Mohammed Ali (Enterprise Adviser) Lukas Motch, front row, left-right: Shirin, Mehmet, Sian

University of Hertfordshire Flux 15 team
back row, left-right: Patrik Stipak, Kamrun Robinson, Mohammed Ali (Enterprise Adviser) Lukas Peter Motsch,
front row, left-right: Shirin Shafaie, Mehmet Pacaci, Siann Millanaise

Competition couldn’t have been any tougher. We were put in the same stream as the two-time Flux winners, Plymouth University. But we were confident as a team of lions and lionesses ready to go and win the day no matter what. Later I learned that Kamrun was in fact pinching his leg from inside his pocket to stop it from trembling! But he did perfectly fine as soon as he started speaking, so did everyone else in our fabulous team: Siann, Lukas, Patrik, Mehmet, and our one and only Champion Mohammed Ali standing tall in the audience telling us with the proud look in his eyes: “You are doing great, keep going”.

Our idea was a fun smart-watch for children with epilepsy. The aim was to help parents to monitor, set goals, and reward their child’s behaviour while at the same time improving the quality of life for the little ones by transforming the way in which their difficult and unsettling medical condition is managed through gamification. The company would go on to diversify its wearable technology products in the future covering a range of health and medical aspects with a long-term vision including raising significant funding through an IPO (listing on the stock market) leading up to a most enticing exit strategy for investors.

Our pitch went phenomenally well, so did that of Plymouth University to our utmost annoyance! The Plymouthians (lovely people by the way!) seemed noticeably challenged by us as well. They were even shocked to learn that it is the first time that our university is taking part in the Flux competition, so was our stream manager who found it hard to believe that it was our first time using the Xing (visual business planning) tool, an integral part of the competition format.

It was now 4pm. All four teams from the four streams gathered in the main auditorium to learn their fate. The winners of each stream would go on to compete against each other in the grand finale bringing the two-day marathon competition to a close by 6pm.

Hearts beating fast … deafening silence overshadowing the grand auditorium … We knew it would be a close call between us and Plymouth; they knew it too. It could really go either way …

In my nervous anticipation of the results, in those few moments which felt like hours, I started to reflect back on my journey from a random attendance at a career meeting only a couple of months ago to this very moment.

As a master student in Film and TV and an academic in Middle East Politics, I knew next to nothing about business. The very term would often disturb me in one way or another. This was the case until I attended a talk by Mr Mohammed Ali (Enterprise Advisor) in January 2015 organised by Marta Rabikowska to launch the Creative Enterprise Club. Mohammed told us inspiring tales of his own journey and encouraged the attendees to enter our university’s own business competition, Flare. He even told us about a great opportunity for taking part in a free evening business start-up programme in February. I applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted along with over 40 aspiring students from across the university and disciplines.

The business start-up programme was one of the richest and most fulfilling university experiences that I have had in my life – and believe me; I have had quite a few!

I heard about the Flux competition in the business start-up programme, and the rest is history as they say!

As I was immersed in my own thoughts, daydreaming about my journey thus far, I heard the sound of people clapping …

“What happened? What happened? Did we win?” I asked Siann as if my life depended on her answer. I couldn’t believe I missed the moment when they announced our name. I was almost ready to get up and go to the front … But Siann stopped me! “Sit down, Plymouth won,” she said. Plymouth also went on to win the competition for a third time in a row!

Part of me did expect it, another part of me couldn’t believe it! As we learned later, we had come astonishingly close to winning the whole thing. But the real win, for me and as I am sure for the rest of the team was the experience, the friendships we made, and all the things we learned along the way. The outcome was always secondary (though Kamrun might disagree slightly!).

In addition to IBM’s stress-release balls and a dozen of colourful business-branded pens, I brought back a new attitude to business.
I learned that business is about people and it is people who make business. I have always been interested in people, so I realised that I have, in a way, always been interested in business too, just didn’t know it! I learned that “to be in it” is no less than winning it, whatever “it” might be! It was yet again proven to me that life is contingent and no success or failure is inevitable. It is just a matter of attitude, having an open mind and believing in one’s self as well as in each other. So thank you to my amazing colleagues and friends at the most fabulous Team Herts for making this experience a joy and a memorable one.

Finally, a big fat thank you to Mohammed Ali and the entire Careers, Employment and Enterprise team at the University of Hertfordshire for believing in us and for your unceasing support and encouragement.

You are the best!

Dr Shirin Shafaie

To read the stories of 2 other members of the University of Hertfordshire Flux 2015 team click here: http://bit.ly/1BPIq0Q

Enterprise Twitter page: @UHEnterprise

If you want to book a 1-2-1 advice session to discuss your business ideas or anything self employment related  you can do so through careerhub.herts.ac.uk. If you are unable to get onto campus, don’t worry, Skype appointments are also available upon request.

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