Start-ed helps kickstart student success
After his mobile smartphone ran out of battery again one afternoon in early 2013, City University London postgraduate student Frank Milani (Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership) was inspired to come up with a solution to this very common problem.
Just a year later, Frank and his business partner Matt Sandrini are about to launch Popcord, their portable smartphone charger. A Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its manufacture attracted £47,000 of pledges, more than double their original £20,000 target.
While developing their business, Frank and Matt received input from the University's student enterprise team, CityStarters; City's entrepreneurship centre, The Hangout; and The City Law School's advice clinic, Start-Ed. Frank recalls the advice he received;
We first attended Start-Ed in December 2013 to ensure that we were taking all the necessary steps to protect our intellectual property and obtain legal cover in a global market.
At a later stage, the solicitors at Start-Ed helped us to establish the right legal structure and understand the terms and conditions required for international pre-orders. They really set us in the right direction.
Founded by Reader in Law Dr David Collins and City alumnus Eric Klotz in 2011, Start-Ed has assisted more than 700 start-ups and small businesses. It is staffed by students from The City Law School who are supervised by local professionals including barristers, solicitors and accountants. Dr Collins notes that a lack of access to simple legal advice is one of the major barriers to success in the start-up sector:
"Legal advice, even in the most basic form, is essential for anyone thinking of starting a business or engaged in the early stages of running one. But unfortunately it can be prohibitively expensive for small companies. Popcord is a highly successful start- up that promises to be an exciting and profitable venture. I am pleased that we were able to provide Popcord with the initial legal assistance to point its founders in the right direction."
In April, Popcord was one of five winners of the CitySpark competition. Frank and Matt received a prize of £3,000 and a place on the CitySpark Summer Accelerator programme.