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VSTEM Education Startup Journey

12 Tips for running a startup and an Education Company

01 September 2020

I launched my startup (VSTEM Education) one and a half years ago with an initial investment of just £50. We have now delivered dozens of engagements to schools and went on to make it to the finals of Falling Walls Engage science engagement of the year (2020) competition. Our startup has come a long way and was showing promising signs of success before the pandemic, but it still has some way to go. In this blog post, I will cover the journey of my startup, and share my best tips for anyone launching their own company. Click here or scroll down to the bottom, if you just want to read our top 12 tips.

Coding-engineer-Vidura

I got the idea to launch a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) workshops and school assembly service after working in several part-time jobs in education. I incorporated street-dancing into our engagements to make them unique.

I decided from the beginning that I would run my company debt-free. This meant that I would have to fund it out of my pocket while I worked in other jobs. I then had to decide whether to trade as a sole trader or a private limited company. After doing some research, I concluded that I would run my startup as a sole trader until the business was making over £25,000 in profits. This would make filing taxes and managing finances easier.

Next, I started developing the workshop content. The process for developing a workshop included doing research, buying parts and material, testing the experiments or items students will build in classrooms, developing a classroom presentation and writing the student guides. Each workshop took around one to two months to fully develop. At the same, I put together several presentations for schools assemblies and science events. Additionally, I developed different versions of both my workshops and presentations so that they were suitable for both primary and secondary school students.

Once I had developed my content, the next step was to market my services to schools. To market the services I needed to build a website. Initially, I used Wix to build a website. I then built this website from scratch so that I can have full control over Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). To do this, I spent a considerable amount of time on Youtube learning about SEO and website building. It was worth the effort as this website is faster and more optimised for search engines. It is now essentially my shopping window for teachers looking for my services.

I tried many marketing methods to get through to teachers once I published my website. These included email marketing campaigns, leaflet distributions, mail marketing campaigns and attending events. Today, I mainly focus on doing search engine AdWord campaigns, advertising on school directories and email marketing campaigns. I use both Mailchimp and an external company for the email marketing campaigns. I have spent entire weeks on these marketing campaigns and marketing itself can be a full-time job.

I first offered some of my services completely free of charge to schools. It was costly, but it did help to get my business off the ground. Moreover, it helped refine my workshops and presentations and develop more valuable content for schools. It was a great feeling once we started receiving the first paid bookings.

In addition to all of the above, I do all of the admin tasks associated with the business. These include tasks such as writing and managing contracts, managing files and marketing databases, dealing with bookings, preparing the workshops, updating the website and the business blog, managing the social media accounts, filing taxes and managing finances.

You can see from above that running my startup has been no easy task. However, I must say that the reward of our engagements makes up for the enormous amount of effort I have put into my startup. I'm also lucky to have the support of some incredibly talented street-dancers that I can hire to support the school engagements. Together we have created some amazing memories at schools. It was a great feeling to receive international recognition for our work this year by the Berlin Falling Walls Engage science foundation. Additionally, we have received enquiries to visit several European countries next year. We hope to continue growing our startup, and someday be at the forefront of social change in society through science, engineering and technology.

Below are our top 12 tips for a startup based on lessons we learned.