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Are you interested in becoming self-employed or freelance? The Venture Programme helps you develop the required skills, knowledge, confidence and connections to work for yourself; whether you’re interested in starting your own business or building a freelance career. Our Venture events will help challenge your way of thinking whilst exposing you to the world of business, preparing you for your next steps and giving you the opportunity to make things happen.

Venture events are open to all students and graduates (within two years of graduating). You even gain recognition for taking part in Venture activities through The Chester Difference Award!

We asked recent graduate, Gillian Seale, to talk us through how The Venture Programme has helped her to start her own business.

What attracted you to the University of Chester?

The University of Chester offered a great opportunity to study Psychology having completed an undergraduate degree in a different subject. This type of conversion course is unusual and I wanted to complete my studies in one year so that I could apply for positions to train as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner.

Why did you decide to start up a business? What was your inspiration?

I was inspired to start my business after spending several years completing my first children’s novel called ‘Post Pixie Missing in Action’ for the niece and nephew of a close friend of mine who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at the age of eleven. The main character shares similar values, skills and interests with my friend. Her idea, that in a society where we strive for our independence we mustn’t forget the need to depend on one another, became the central message of the story. The characters all learn to help and support each other in different ways. By putting myself in other parent’s shoes, considering what I would most want to leave to my own young children who absolutely love reading books, my vision became crystal clear. My business addresses the need to preserve memories for young children to treasure for a lifetime. If the children of other families enjoy reading the stories that I create, then the business will have succeeded in its mission.

What is your business name? Can you tell us what you do?

I’m currently in the process of setting up a Community Interest Company called ‘Tailored Yarn’ to write and illustrate beautiful, bespoke fictional children’s stories for families battling with cancer or other terminal illnesses. As the name suggests, the stories are uniquely tailored to each individual family about their journey travelled together.

Why did you take part in the Venture Programme?

I entered the Venture Pitch 2020 thinking I had nothing to lose by pitching. I didn’t realise that my life might be turned around overnight and my career direction confidently altered. It has been great hearing other students’ interesting ideas and the workshops have been exceptionally helpful.

How did the Venture Programme help you?

Whilst the business prizes I was awarded through the Venture Pitch 2020 were great, what helped me most was the positive feedback and encouragement that I received from the judges and even the other pitchers. It was a great experience where all the competitors were supportive of one another. Without this opportunity I don’t think I would have taken the risk of setting up a business and I may have explored finding a financially secure position. I feel that not only have I made the right decision, but that I have something unique to contribute to society through this venture.

What happened after your Venture experience? What would you consider to be your biggest achievement in business?

I have been working full time on my business since completing all my coursework at the start of the summer. I’m now in a position where I am close to publishing and launching my first book with a Kickstarter campaign, which is very exciting. There has been a huge amount of work to get me to this point however, so I think my biggest achievement will be achieving success.

Do you have any advice to offer to anyone else considering Venture or starting up in business?

The Venture Programme offers a wealth of knowledge. Even just by attending the workshops I felt like I learned a huge amount about business, despite being a qualified Accountant. It’s definitely worth getting involved with and if you reach the final of the Venture Pitch competition you may go home with a prize/prizes! In terms of starting up your business, it helps to connect with other entrepreneurs and local networking groups. Building your social media platforms and having a good website are also really important and, if you’re stuck for ideas, do plenty of research on YouTube and via Podcasts.

You can find out more about The Venture Programme and how our Careers and Employability team support our students on our website.


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undergraduate Careers student