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16 March 2021

18 universities collaborate for digital entrepreneurship festival

Entrepreneurship Institute

In the spirit of entrepreneurial resilience, this year's Venture Crawl pivoted to a digital platform and connected 750 students with London's start-up and enterprise ecosystem.

Venture Crawl bus from 2020

In any other year, Venture Crawl involves shepherding groups of students onto iconic red London buses across London’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to learn investor insights and the secrets of start-up sucess. But as we know, this year was like no other, and in the spirit of entrepreneurial resilience, Venture Crawl pivoted and was held as a digital entrepreneurial festival.

The experience was designed to connect to real-world businesses and venture capital firms, be inspired by the UK’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, and gain skills in self-confidence, creative thinking, resilience and leadership and saw over 750 students from 18 universities attend live workshops, meet like-minded peers at networking events and participate in an end-of-day pitch-off event.

Pivoting to digital meant that the organisers were to curate a hub of inspirational content from some of the UK’s most interesting entrepreneurs and innovators, including Ben Francis (founder of GymShark), Richard Walker (CEO of Iceland), Emma Watkinson (co-founder of SilkFred), Aron Gelbard (co-founder and CEO of flower gifting service Bloom & Wild), Giles Humpries (co-founder of Mindful Chef) as well as Venture Capital firms such as Octopus Ventures and innovation hubs like Plexal.

The digital format of the event also had the added advantage of increasing access to start-ups and enterprise hubs from further afield, featuring contributing partners from Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York and Copenhagen.

It’s been so eye-opening exploring different career paths and networking with other incredible students and alumni from around the globe. Despite the events being online this year, it was such a fun experience and felt like a day to immerse myself in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation to see people’s dedication, hunger, drive and get inspired. I’m always excited to see emerging entrepreneurial talent coming out of our universities and I can’t wait to put all this knowledge into action and see where it leads!

Priya P M, Computer Science student

Digital events like this make it a lot easier for people to connect and learn from people whose paths they might not have ever crossed. It’s so great to have an event like this – to learn, to connect, to get a taste of something new. Events like Venture Crawl are an amazing place to find game-changing opportunities that you might not even know exist yet.

Sara Osterholzer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of The Good Business Club

This year marked the fourth Venture Crawl, an initiative that was founded by the King’s Entrepreneurship Institute and has expanded around the globe, with partner universities including Loughborough University, UCL, the University of East London, Brunel University, London South Bank University, the London College of Fashion, DePaul University in Chicago and Tampere University in Finland.

Last year’s London Venture Crawl, students from 16 universities across London took the classroom outside, touring on ten London buses on 11 March 2020. Exploring other ecosystems for entrepreneurs, Venture Crawls took place in Birmingham, Manchester and Chicago on the same day.