How my Study Group experience helped me launch a start-up company

03 September 2021
Posted by Study Group

How my Study Group experience helped me launch a start-up company

Former Study Group international foundation year student Askar, who recently graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Business and Management, shares how his student experience helped him launch a grocery delivery company.

1.    Why did you choose to study in the UK?

The UK has always been recognised as one of the leading educational hubs in the world, especially within the business and economics subject area. I was inspired by UK and London and all top technology companies have headquarters here. Plus, my love of entrepreneurship resulted in me choosing the UK as a place to study.

2.    Why did you choose to study at Kingston University?

I found out that Kingston University was number one, in terms of producing graduate start-ups in the UK, for five years in a row and I just thought, “I want to run my own start-up. I want to go into entrepreneurship. Let's add Kingston University to the list." As it was London-based too that was the decision made, I moved to London to start my studies at the Kingston University International Study Centre (ISC), operated by Study Group.

My foundation year at the Kingston ISC taught me how to communicate with people when you're working on a project in a group and how to move towards your goals and accomplish tasks when you're not being forced to. In school or college, you always have homework and you're being told, "you need to get this done by tomorrow and so on." My foundation year gave me a sense of independence and the transferable skills that helped me create my own start-up company, Grocemania.

3.    How did you develop your own start-up company, Grocemania?

Initially, I wanted to purchase electric bikes from China and set them up across different towns, like Barclays Bikes. However, after a long day at work, I came home and realised I didn’t have any groceries. I started looking online to see if I could get a quick delivery, however, at that time, you could only get a grocery delivery from Ocado or Tesco and as they’re such big retailers, you had to spend a minimum of £60 for a one-hour slot pre-booked in advance.

I then started thinking of an idea to start a local grocery delivery service as it seemed to be a niche in the market. My thinking was – let’s help independent retailers offer grocery delivery in a speedy, cost-effective way. In a week’s time, I onboarded my first five stores in Kingston and since then have been operating and growing for three years now.

My experience at Kingston University really helped me to prioritise my goals and develop my business. Kingston University assigned a personal mentor to me to support me to develop my start-up company. They gave me valuable advice about how to make the business lean and scalable. I think that was the first time during my Kingston university experience I understood that prioritising meetings with my mentor was way more beneficial for me personally and for my business project rather than doing something else. 

4.    How successful has Grocemania been so far?

Before the pandemic, Grocemania been getting 20 to 30 daily orders. At the start of lockdown, I woke up at half-past eight in the morning and we already had about 160 orders pending. This was mainly because people started googling alternative grocery delivery options and we were at the top of their internet search and got 7,000 new customers just within the first three months of lockdown. The good news is that 50% of them became returning customers, which is a great result. We also secured some interest from big brands like Unilever, PepsiCo, and some interest from local retailers.

2020 for us was crazy busy, but I'm proud of the team and of our partners. We managed to achieve only 3% refund rate, which means 97% of all the orders went through and customers received them. Meanwhile, the local independent retailers working with us had most of the supply. So, it was a win-win for everyone. We grew our business, local retailers stayed afloat, made extra sales, and customers got their essentials delivered. We now employ commercial and technology development teams.

James Pitman, Managing Director for the UK and Europe at Study Group, congratulates  Askar on his success:

“We are delighted to know that Askar’s experience at the Study Group Kingston University ISC helped to equip him with the knowledge and skills to create his own start-up business, which is still growing and expanding in the UK.

“Askar’s entrepreneurial mindset and extraordinary tenacity to pursue his dream of starting his own company have really paid off. He was able to offer a vital service for consumers during the pandemic, whilst supporting local independent retailers.

“We are very proud of Askar’s success, and it is a great example of how the education Study Group provides can enable international students to establish successful enterprises and careers in the UK.” .

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