Alumni from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) feature in a new campaign promoting the city as one of the best places in the UK to start a business.
Leicester: City of Entrepreneurs tells the stories of 20 people who have found success in the city, asking each about their own business journeys and why they chose to set up in Leicester.
Among them are internet businessman and philanthropist Mark Esho MBE, lawyer Glynis Wright MBE and lingerie designer Roshni Desai.
And businesspeople who have given their time to support students, including Femi Latif who was a judge on DMU’s first-year business competition Fox’s Lair, and Serendipity boss Pawlet Brookes, who has led Black History Month events and Leicester International Dance were also chosen for the campaign.
Each spelled out why they chose Leicester to be the base for their businesses and highlighted the support available and community of entrepreneurs.
In January this year, Leicester was named one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial cities after researchers analyzed the number of new companies registered and the number of start-ups per head of population.
It found that since the start of lockdown, there were 5,345 new businesses registered in Leicester – a rise of 72% on the previous year. accounting for one new business for every 66 people and placing it fourth on the entrepreneur hotspot list.
DMU is in the top 10 universities in the UK for the number of graduate start-ups. In the period 2020/21 140 new businesses were recorded.
Contour Fashion graduate Roshni Desai is one of the case studies in the City of Entrepreneurs campaign, showcasing her business Roshni Desai Designs. She creates lingerie from sustainable fabrics.
Last year she won the Leicestershire Innovation Awards Innovation in Creative Industries for designing a bra for breast cancer survivors, inspired by her auntie.
She said: “So many post-surgery garments are dull and I wanted to create something that was practical but also pretty, that women will want to wear. All I wanted was to achieve this for one person — my auntie — to give her something to brighten her mood when getting dressed. To then win the Innovation Award for it was amazing.”
Having grown up in Leicester, studied here and launched her business here, Roshni agrees Leicester is a great place to be a start up. She said: “Leicester has so many people and organizations that will be rooting for you.”
After graduating, Roshni joined DMU’s business incubation program The Crucible, where she had a year’s worth of mentoring, support and coaching from mentors who each run their own businesses. She said: “the Crucible Project kickstarted a lot of my drive for my business, I had already set up my business and was selling my garments by the time I joined Crucible but the tailored 1-1 sessions I got alongside the training with industry experts and also the expertise from everyone was invaluable to me and my business in its journey.”
DMU alumni Mark Esho MBE set up Access Rating, which is an app that rates disabled access for venues and buildings. He has since launched the Circle Foundation to help disabled entrepreneurs get a business off the ground.
“Leicester is a city of diversity and coexistence. That relates to our business community, as well and I think it’s why we stand out. It’s about raising people up rather than bringing people down and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Glynis Wright, who studied law at DMU and is now a family lawyer and a member of the DMU Law School advisory board, said: “Leicester is a great city in which to start a business. The city is a breeding ground for creativity. We have two wonderful, proactive universities here and a welcoming and generous networking community that is willing to interact and encourage new businesses to flourish.”
Helen Donnellan, Director of Enterprise and Business Services, said Leicester had a lot to offer startups. She said: “The startup community in Leicester is very supportive and I think that plays a big part in people choosing the city as a place to start their own companies.
“DMU is a resource for the business community and we’re here to help entrepreneurs take their first steps in business and support start-ups to grow.”
Posted on Thursday June 9th, 2022