230 strong and UTS Startups is just getting started
More students are joining UTS Startups and turning their idea into a business. At the start of May, UTS Startups launched its 230th student startup. Here, UTS Director of Entrepreneurship, Murray Hurps, talks about the journey so far of growing a diverse community of some 300 student founders.
What does reaching the milestone of 230 student startups signify?
Success. I’m amazed at what students here at UTS can do. What has been surprising over the year that I’ve been at UTS is how entrepreneurial the students here are, how original they are in their thought and how successful their startups have been. It’s incredible.
UTS Startups is still within its first year. Can you give us some insight into what has gotten the startups community to this point?
The biggest thing has been being there to support what’s already happening.
I think when you put good people in a room it attracts more good people. So, over time we’re finding that the community is becoming more and more attractive to other people across UTS and I think people are seeing it as more ‘normal’ to be an entrepreneur.
What has worked really well?
I think the things that have worked really well are the people we’ve been lucky enough to work with and their support for other people in the community - their organising of events their organising of different networking opportunities that have been very helpful to new people in the community. I think what we’ve done well is create the conditions that allow people to work together and support each other in doing amazing things
How do you handle the challenges entrepreneurs face?
To be an entrepreneur is taking a risk in the hope of some kind of gain so you could make the argument that there is no entrepreneurship without risk. How we respond is on-boarding people carefully so they know what kind of support is available, monitoring every startup by checking in with them and intervening as soon as we identify any challenges that need our support. Entrepreneurship will always be a little bit dangerous. It can be less dangerous if done in the right environment and we are trying to create that environment. I think community is underrated in helping to manage that risk.
What characteristics define a UTS startup and a UTS student entrepreneur?
They are incredibly driven, incredibly wily people who are very resourceful at good at getting on and getting it done. I’d forgotten how hard I could work as a twenty-year-old and I’m being reminded by all the hard-working people that are here. I think the UTS startup founder is characterised by their resourcefulness, their hard-working nature, and their drive to get things done.
Are those qualities getting recognition among the wider ecosystem that the UTS approach is unique?
What really matters is our startups and the incredible people behind them, but second to that, I think what makes UTS different in how we support these incredible people. I think our job is to get people started, to make entrepreneurship normal, desirable, accessible and to build a community of all the people at UTS who are being entrepreneurs to be unashamedly focused on tech entrepreneurship. I also think UTS attracts a particular kind of student that I think is especially entrepreneurial.
How has UTS surprised you?
I’m amazed at how quickly we can do things. UTS is very good at what it does and very willing to take action quickly if there’s an opportunity. I’ve been amazed that every part of the university is hugely supportive of what we do. I don’t think anyone has said no to anything I’ve asked for yet - I think I need to ask for bigger things!
How is this community shaping you?
I’ve been affected by the last nine months of UTS Startups. I started my first company when I was 16 and I had forgotten how much you’re capable of as a young person. You don’t know what’s not possible, you’re able to pull in all these educational resources and networks that just weren’t available ten years ago.
I think what has been reawakened in me is what is people can do, that you don’t need a huge amount of support to be an entrepreneur, especially today. You just need to decide to be it and take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there. To see hundreds and hundreds of people at UTS see that opportunity, start pursuing that opportunity and doing amazing things, it’s made me incredibly happy and has reminded me of what’s possible.