We know what it’s like to be a startup; we were one, so supporting young entrepreneurs is a matter close to Xero’s heart. That’s why we launched the first Xero Entrepreneur Scholarship in November, 2015, designed to help UK students afford the rising cost of education and help them along the road to success on their entrepreneurial journey. As part of the offering we decided to offer £2,000 financial backing, with the additional support of mentoring, practical financial management skills coaching and a subscription to Xero for 12 months to an undergraduate or postgraduate student.
We received so many impressive entries, so choosing was no easy feat. However, in the end we had to choose the exceptional and deserving Aleksandar Geyne, a former IT and business student at Lancaster University.
Aleksandar’s application and essay impressed us all. His essay describes how his childhood inspired his entrepreneurial spirit, his brilliant business idea of a cloud-based visual CV builder, along with a clear passion to run his own business.
“Receiving the Xero entrepreneur scholarship means more than simply getting financial support. It will give me confidence that someone has believed in my ideas and it will be the start of one great journey, which I am really excited about”
Here’s a short interview with Aleksandar, in hope that it inspires other students and encourages them to apply to Xero’s Entrepreneur Scholarship 2017:
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur, which entrepreneurs inspire you and why?
Ever since my childhood, I have always loved to play with DIY kits and create solutions to problems. I was very happy and proud when I was able to build something on my own instead of buying it from the shop. Growing up and coming to university did not change my passion for creation and problem solving. However, the scale and the scope of my ideas are much larger than building a microphone pop filter, which I used when recording myself singing.
Elon Musk, tech idealist and space entrepreneur is my icon. The work he does with Tesla Motors and his intentions to reduce climate change is really inspiring.
Can you tell us about your business idea and how you came up with the concept?
While I was looking for a work placement after my third year I realised that I should “stand out from the crowd” in order to increase my chances of being picked up amongst thousands of other students.
As I was looking for a marketing position I decided to design my CV to look like a YouTube profile. I passed my CV to my friends to get feedback and a lot of them were asking me to help them create something different for themselves as well. This made me realise that a lot of students and graduates are facing the same problem – how to make themselves more visible. However, not many of them knew how or had the design skills to do it. This triggered my passion and I had to come up with a solution.
I came up with an idea of a cloud-based platform where people can create visual CVs without having any design skills using drag-and-drop building blocks interface. The idea is that these blocks will be fully editable and could be rearranged around a canvas to form a unique CV. The platform works within a browser, without requiring any other additional software.
What made you realise you were onto something?
By presenting a business plan, I won first place and I was invited to an entrepreneurship seminar organised by the Scottish Institute of Enterprise. With this project, I also entered the Santander business idea competition at the University of Aberdeen where we came third.
I believe such a platform can help a lot of graduates who are just getting on the job market and cannot stand out with long years of work experience. Moreover, the platform will allow them to express and present themselves in the best possible way. Indeed, enabling other people to do something they were not able to do before is what drives my passion for entrepreneurship
How will the Xero scholarship help you?
Receiving the Xero scholarship will help me pay my tuition fees at Lancaster University. I’ll be able repay my student loan sooner so I can focus on pursuing my entrepreneurial ideas.I am also excited about the other benefits given. The Xero subscription, the mentoring sessions and the financial management skills coaching are even more valuable. I would love to take the opportunity to learn from a successful startup like Xero. From conversations with successful entrepreneurs and investors, I have understood that learning from previous experience and mentors is a vital part of developing a successful business, especially considering the fact I do not have previous experience with running a business myself.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’d love to own my own business, that helps change people’s lives. I feel strongly that education should be available to everyone, so I want to create an online education tool that supports this.
Finally, what are your tips and advice for students looking to start the entrepreneurial journey during their studies?
If you’re lucky enough to have the freedom, I highly recommend combining a course module with your business idea. This will help you develop it with whilst you study, with support from fellow students and lecturers.
Also use the university network to get advice and support. I joined an entrepreneurial organisation at university, and you can use this to help develop and support your business idea.