Students in Norwich had the chance to improve their entrepreneurial knowledge thanks to the visit of the StartUp Britain bus to the University of East Anglia and City College Norwich.

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An alternative idea

Ellie Hoult-Clogan is hoping to show her entrepreneurial flair by filling a gap in an alternative market.

The 18-year-old had a chat with staff on the StartUp Britain bus at City College as she wanted to find out about financial support which will help to establish an online business she has started.

The Fashion and Clothing Extended Diploma student, from Loddon, is making and selling cyber-hair extensions, similar to dreadlocks.

She explained: “For a number of years I’ve been making and selling custom-styled dreadlocks. I produce and sell to the same quality that is being sold for £140 to £150 for more like £40 to £50.

“I can’t understand how they are charging so much, so I want to sell at prices that aren’t a rip-off. I have been disappointed with the quality of the materials before so I thought if I can make them better, then I should make them available to more people.

“These dreadlocks are becoming hugely popular with people from the hardcore goth scene, right through to the grunge scene.

“I sold a lot to people that go to Glaston-bury and it gets busy around Latitude time as well.”

The double-decker bus is currently touring the UK to promote the government’s £82m StartUp Loans scheme for people aged 18 to 24, offering an opportunity to apply for one of the loans.

The tour, which is visiting 40 universities and further education colleges, pulled up in front of City College between 9am and 1pm yesterday, before moving on the UEA later in the day.

All the students who boarded the bus received a free StartUp Loans Kit, with a guide on how to start a business and more than £200 of offers.

City College principal Corrienne Peasgood was pleased to see plenty of interest from her students in talking to the team of entrepreneurs, business authors and experts.

She said: “One of the most important things for a budding entrepreneur is to take that first step.

“I advise students to take a small step with something that they love doing and to not risk more money than they can afford.

“It’s about taking small steps. So if that means going to a market and selling jewellery to take your first step, then that’s great.”

Among those on board the bus for the visit to City College were Iain Stirling, co-founder of luxury brand agency Stirling Associates, Norfolk-based business adviser, Kate Wilde, and young entrepreneur Anisah Britton, founder of PocketMUni.com

The latest youth unemployment figures, released earlier this month, saw the biggest quarterly fall since the three months to November 2011, but there are still 957,000 young people aged 16 to 24 who are unemployed.

The StartUp bus tour is sponsored by the Gazelle Colleges Group, of which City College is a member, which has built a network of 19 colleges committed to fostering entrepreneurs.

StartUp Britain co-founder, Emma Jones, said: “We are seeing more and more young people setting up businesses. Research has shown eight out of 10 young people think about setting up a business these days as a career path, or a way to turn a hobby into a money-spinning idea.

“These young people represent part of the future of business and our economic prosperity.

“That’s why it’s so important to offer them support by delivering the message that they can set up a business, there is support out there for them – and that we’ll be with them every step of the way.”

Karem Da Costa has based his business idea on his own experience of moving to Norwich to study at City College.

The Hospitality Management foundation degree student, who now lives in Old Catton, found the process of moving to Norwich from Southend to be difficult.

So he is planning to set up a business which will help other students moving to Norwich make a smoother transition.

The 29-year-old was one of the students taking a look at what the StartUp Britain bus had to offer and said: “When I moved to Norwich I had problems finding somewhere to live so had to keep coming from Southend every day for two months, which cost me about £40 a day.

“It was really hard but I managed to get through it and now I want to help other people in the same situation. In January I’m hoping to get the first van so we can start work.

“The information today is a big help because I have been able to find out about setting up a website and getting a loan, so it’s a big help to get me started.”

Do you know someone starting an innovative business in Norwich? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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