Every year we have intakes of incredible students who have hidden talents, bring unique and interesting ideas to the table and contribute greatly to different industries all over Salford and Manchester. Laura Billington is one of our inspiring students who hit the ground running and has started her own business called ‘Build-a-Party’ with the help of her course tutors and our business incubation centre on campus called Launch @ Salford Uni. This is alongside her own studies, other work and being a parent of two. We absolutely admire her strength!💪😍
On the week of the 25th March, our Students’ Union hosted the annual Enterprise Week in association with Launch @ Salford Uni, and on the final day a ‘Dragon’s Den’-esque business competition was hosted in University House and Laura was the lucky student who won £1,000 to help with her business. I managed to have a chat with her after her initial pitch and before she had found out the ‘dragons’ had picked her idea.
Hi Laura, so what are you studying currently?
I am currently in my third year of Business Information Technology. (This course has been renamed to BSc Digital Business.)
How do you feel that the University of Salford supports entrepreneurship amongst its students?
I think it’s amazing. I think that there’s a lot support there. I’m a single mum coming from a council estate. We’ve never had a penny and now I’ve never had so many opportunities in my life and it’s not just opportunities as well. It’s confidence. Lecturer Alex Fenton, who is one of the ‘dragons’ today, teaches me on a couple of my subjects. I can bounce an idea at him and he’ll come back with some great feedback to help me build on what I’m doing. Other staff on my course are amazing as well no matter when I e-mail, they’ll always get back to me. The course has got such an amazing team to support me.
How are you finding your course and university experience?
I am really enjoying it. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but I enjoy it. It has definitely been a different experience. I’m used to working multiple jobs but this has been a whole new challenge on its own.
That’s great! As well as your studies you mentioned that you are also a parent.
Yeah, two children.
Do you find it rewarding juggling studies, a business and being a parent?
Yes it’s very rewarding. I have these amazing children. My eldest is nearly 14 and the youngest is nine. They’ve supported me so much. It’s only me and them. We’re quite a close knit family. They’ve been amazing. And I like to think that I’m inspiring them.
So, what inspired you to come up with the idea of your Build-a-Party business?
Well, it’s what I spoke about for years but I never had the confidence or the skills to go any further with it until I started my degree. Then when I got into my third year I found out I had to do a project anyway. So it was just a really nice fit. Even when I started doing the research I didn’t know if I could actually go live with it but I decided to give it a go. I started on the 21st of January. And it’s been pretty successful.
How did you find pitching today?
It’s always nerve racking. I used to teach in the NHS so I used to have to stand up in front of doctors and nurses and normally standing up in front of people isn’t an issue for me. I think with the lecturers at university, because they are there to challenge you, it’s a bit different and it took me a year or two to get used to.
Would you say that business pitching is a difficult skill to master?
Yeah. I’m in my third year now and I’m just about getting used to it.
Final question, where do you see yourself in five years?
Well I’m spinning lots of plates at the moment. I don’t know where I’m going to be but I want to do a master’s degree and I’ve been for an interview this week for a job in project management. I love projects. I enjoy being very organised and I feel that’s why in my business, clients come so naturally because of the organisation. Ideally I want to be working for myself. I want to go to big companies when they’ve got projects going on and manage them through it. I’ve been involved in the hospital and worked with different software so I have training there and I’ve had a job as an IT tech helping out from that perspective. But essentially I want to run the projects internally.
Thank you to Laura for her time and a massive congratulations on winning the Dragon’s Den competition. We are really excited to see her Build-a-Party idea grow and maybe one day we’ll even see her on the dragon’s panel!
If you are interested in a similar course to Laura’s, check the ones below or use our recently revamped website!