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NUBS alumni share sustainable start up practice with students

NUBS alumni share sustainable start up practice with students

22 February 2022

Nikolaos Benopoulos and Rojin Yarahmadi spoke to the current Digital Business MSc and Digital Business (e-Marketing) MSc cohort about their journey studying the Digital Business (E-Business) MSc and how the course and University services allowed them to explore the start-up route.

During their studies, Nikolaos and Rojin spotted a gap in the market, which led to the pair coming up with an idea to build their sustainable business Polybox.

Polybox aims to provide a practical application for retail brands and their customers alike by offering an “all in one” solution, a reporting system to aid customer engagement and retention and a receipt function to give their customers budgeting and analysis tools.

Polybox was created when Rojin spotted a pain point for businesses. Rojin explained: “The idea originally started from working at a shop in Newcastle during our Master’s. The manager of the shop had some problems with the reports and I helped them to make reports based on the shop’s data. That is how we understood there is a problem that can be solved. We started the market research from there to see if these issues are common.”

Support throughout studies

The Digital Marketing (E-Business) degree helped both Rojin and Nikolaos gain insight into how a business operates and allowed them to gain the knowledge to work on their business idea whilst studying.

Through guidance from academics within the Business School and the Careers START UP service, Nikolaos and Rojin were able to have the tools to start up their business after graduating in 2020.

Rojin said: “Professors were always there and we talked with them as much as possible about our idea. I remember when I talked about the idea with Vicky Mountford-Brown and she supported me and introduced me to the START UP team. After that, the START UP team welcomed us and supported us.”

Nikolaos added: “If a student is thinking about starting a business, I suggest starting now because Newcastle University can offer an environment where businesses and ideas thrive.”

Nikolaos Beno, Rojin Yarahmadi and Nick Howey moments before the talk

Nikolaos added: “If a student is thinking about starting a business, I suggest starting now because Newcastle University can offer an environment where businesses and ideas thrive.”

Real-life experience on sustainable solutions

Sustainability is a key theme of the ‘Digital Start-up’ module organised by Degree Programme Director Nick Howey. The module incorporates the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDG) which is something that Polybox aligns with.

The current MSc Digital Business cohort are working in teams to develop digital business start-up proposals, which will in some way incorporate sustainability aligned with the UNSDG goals. Nick organised the Polybox visit to share experiences with current students to give them a taste for the real world of digital business.

Nick said: “As module leader, I wanted the students to not only understand some of the core elements of the digital business start-up journey, but also to get a sense of realism and understand how difficult it can be. The module aims to be experiential in its approach and to be able to tap into real life experiences which adds significant value to the learning experience.”

I wanted the students to not only understand some of the core elements of the digital business start-up journey, but also to get a sense of realism and understand how difficult it can be.

Nick Howey, Digital Marketing Degree Programme Director