Why Accelerate Me? Ask our Alumni!
During our launch event on Wednesday the 14th of October, we hosted a panel discussion with some of our amazing alumni to get a deeper insight of what was it like to go through the Accelerator and being an entrepreneur. We hosted founder of Arkisites Elijah Ajuwon, director of Skybox App Luigi D'Introno and Harrison Kersey, co-founder of Global Source Kitchen.
Accelerate Me Associate Hussain Janmohammed hosted the panel discussion asking our alumni the following questions:
Q: How did you come up with your start-up idea?
Luigi: I was volunteering at the Manchester Museum and I thought that was a very cool idea to start an app to revolutionize the way we learn. VR and AR is not really a need, it’s an enhancement which took a while to realize, which is why we are pivoting now and exploring other areas.
Elijah: I founded Arkisites in 2014 through iteration and speaking to people. Throughout my research I did find a need for the problems I wanted to solve, I didn’t know if my solution at that time was the right solution but I’ve had to pivot which is what I am pursuing today.
Harrison: We were saying “Wouldn’t it be funny to start a service that delivered hummus instantly anywhere around Fallowfield?”. It was honestly a joke, students trying to come up with a business idea – a delivery service. However, we ran with the idea a little bit and the other aspects of our business were built around that.
Q: How did you take your start-up from just an idea to the final product? What advice would you give a prospective Entrepreneur on the first steps that they would need to take?
Elijah: I was surrounded by a strong support system that guided me. I’d advise two things 1) Be plugged into the Entrepreneurial ecosystem 2) The first version of your product will not be the last version you run with, continue pivoting and speaking to those with experience to get feedback.
Harrison: 1) At the start-up phase, it can be very helpful to have someone that’s more experienced than you and that has helped others in your position. 2) Just execute your idea
Luigi: 1) Just start, test as many times as you can, don’t give up because at the end of the day you either succeed or you learn. 2) Find a community with people smarter than you as you can really learn from them
Q: Why did you apply to our Accelerator?
Harrison: It was amazing to me and my partner that there were people willing to offer their time, resources and money. We realised that everyone benefits from each other just by being in the same room.
Elijah: I was told about the experience by previous AME winners, saying that there are many opportunities to learn from each other as well as the mentoring and the community they created. What they said is what drove me to apply.
Q: What was the most valuable thing you gained from Accelerate Me?
Luigi: As an Entrepreneur, you may not succeed from the first go. What is more important is how you get shaped as an Entrepreneur, so finding this hub is fantastic and Accelerate Me is just that. What I got from Accelerate Me is great contacts, a great network and a great group of friends that helped me shape my ideas and myself.
Harrison: For me it was about perspective, the people it puts you around, the diversity of people and the inspiring businesses around.
Elijah: I was surrounded by for-profit businesses in different sectors. Hearing their issues, them brainstorming solutions, exchanging knowledge, contacts and expertise is what I found extremely valuable. I took a lot of these experiences and applied them to my business.
Q: After you guys graduated from the cohort, what have you been doing with the business?
Luigi: We ran a pilot project that was fantastic as we got a lot of data from it and that allowed us to shift and take our learnings from before and apply it to a new industry.
Harrison: We ran a café for a few months, which was fantastic. We took over the kitchen at a pretty big venue in South Manchester. However, due to the change of circumstances caused by Covid-19, we have moved into running a kitchen that was taken over by Manchester City Council to provide food for homeless residents in a hotel.
Elijah: We’ve been accepted into Aspect Accelerator! We have built an online community of about 330 people from the black community of different levels of professions all into tech.
Q: What is the proudest moment during your start-up journey?
Harrison: The first time we ran our café, the number of people who turned up to buy our food was amazing, that was pretty special.
Luigi: The first time we ran the AR app that brought dinosaurs and whales at the museum alive as a small animation, to the kids it was a big deal and just seeing their smiles was just fantastic.
Q: Elijah, a slightly different question for you, what is it like being a solo founder?
It’s hard, because I’m a perfectionist. I’ve got a team of 5 now but just getting there was a very tough process of finding the right people in line with what I’m doing.
Want to know more about each startup?
Follow Skybox here
Follow Arkisites here
Follow Global Source Kitchen here
Written by Lamees Al Lawati