Students on the ‘Starting a New Business’ module at the University of Hull School of Business, Law and Politics have been able to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills thanks to a partnership between the University and business platform developers Savvygoat.
“Exploring what the University was doing, teaching entrepreneurship, I immediately thought of the connection with what Savvygoat was doing with its business application,” says alumnus Geoff Berridge (History, 1964), who initiated the partnership. “I saw an opportunity to introduce my business colleagues in Savvygoat and potentially the platform to the Business School. That developed very well and the platform is now being used quite extensively on the Starting a New Business course.”
Teams of students, or ‘goats’, were tasked with using the platform to develop their business plans. Their teachers, the ‘herders’, were then able to better monitor the progress made by each of the teams, and the contributions offered by each team member, using the data provided by the platform.
The platform provides students with a framework for organising themselves, distributing work appropriately, and taking responsibility for the on-time delivery of the tasks they have been delegated. Herders can see who contributes at meetings, and award points for quality work.
“What the app does is provide a learning and management platform and is a base for entrepreneurs to be able to gather their thinking in a documented and considered way in order to end up with a decent looking business plan to take their project forward,” Geoff says. “If we think about the students, what we can say is that the teamworking and the motivation has been much better than in past years and we have seen that they are actually able to produce a much higher quantity of higher quality work going into the submissions that they are putting together.”
As well as adding structure and motivation for students to take individual responsibility, to work well collaboratively and to be proactive, the element of competition with other teams, racking up points to be the team that ‘climbs the mountain’ first, also ensured that the students were more productive than they had been previously, producing not just more work, but better quality work. At the end of the process, the teams were then invited to participate in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event, where they pitched their ideas to local entrepreneurs, who provided some seed funding to the winners.
“The partnership has been very succesful, there has been some very close working between Savvygoat and people at the University, we have actually created something of significant value for students to be able to use when pulling together their business plans,” says Geoff. “The application has contributed significantly to the teaching of entrepreneurship within the University. It enables us to think about new ways of teaching, and to keep a much closer contact with students as they’re going through the ‘Starting a New Business’ module.
“We are very conscious that this can be used in the future by the University, in order to help students on future entrepreneurship courses that the University might be offering, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.”