Q1) Briefly explain your business/business concept and the problem it aims to solve?
Student Circus (www.studentcircus.com) is a dedicated job search platform that caters to the needs of international students in the UK. All jobs and internships on the platform are from UK employers willing to sponsor work visas to graduates from the UK. There are 30,000+ licensed companies who can sponsor work visas to graduates but some big firms like Aviva, Xerox, Standard Chartered, Vodafone chose not to – This is exactly the key information students and universities lack and waste a lot of time finding out along with matching it to visa rules. We are using custom made algorithms to aggregate this information so students and universities can save time and apply for opportunities that matter.
The process of securing a job in the UK is very complex for international students, even more so as they need to find a job before their student visa expires. It is more like a clueless puzzle as immigration and employment rules and are generally led to rely on questionable information. The crux of the entire situation is more like “Skills yes. Job yes. Visa no!”. Thus, students apply for jobs with any and all companies – and wait to hear (if they are lucky!) that the company does not sponsor a work visa even in case of a skill-match. With this race against time, an international student is expected to filter opportunities that he has a realistic chance of securing a job and a visa. With Student Circus, we are changing this!
Q2) How did you come up with this idea?
The founders of Student Circus, Tripti and Dhruv are alumni to top UK universities and ex-international students. After facing the problem first hand, they decided to do something about it and simplify the process for students thereon.
Q3) What stage is your business currently at, and what are your plans moving forward?
Student Circus began in November’16 as a unique idea by two graduates but the concept has seen real validation now. The founders have received the Graduate Entrepreneur visas for the need behind solving this critical problem for international students. As on date, we have 3000+ users on the platform which is 1% of our international students in the UK. These students have applied for more than 7000 jobs & have successfully secured jobs and internships. We have secured contracts from 5 prestigious UK universities. For the ‘Immigration Assistant’ feature we have signed an exclusive partnership with VWV Solicitors, one of the top law firms in London. Not only this, we are an award winning start-up and platform at the CitySpark competition held at City University in March’17.
The ultimate vision is use of artificial intelligence and matching tools to ease the hiring process for employers by better selection of candidates – automation to shortlist and manage the process on Student Circus. We aim to be the end-to-end service where universities can attract and enrol students, students can find jobs and employers can manage hiring international students. We aim to be the ‘Google for international students’ across the world!
Q4) What do you feel are your three biggest successes with your business so far?
The first confidence booster for us was securing the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, where we had to pitch our idea to an esteemed panel. The entire process of formally submitting a business plan and preparing for the pitch gave us insight into the market we have no experience of.
After our launch in Novemeber’16, securing the first two universities as our clients has brought us validation of the business model. Lastly, students securing jobs and internships via Student Circus gives us strong case studies to present to employers.
Throughout our journey, we are humbled by the love and support from students and universities.
Q5) How was being a student at City helped you to develop your idea?
We have a lot to thank City for! Starting with giving us access to the amazing incubation space at City LaunchLab so we can work alongside like-minded people. All start-ups in the space are at similar stages which helps us learn from each other and at times even save/share resources.
Since Student Circus works with universities, the LaunchLab team constantly gives us feedback and tips on how to get more users on board.
Q6) What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurial students at City?
Idea is 1% and execution is 99%.
Go out there and do it, talk to as many people as you can about your idea.
Hurdles are not the end, learn from them and hustle ahead.
Q7) If you are seeking help or investment let us know what you need to help your business grow?
As we are in the early stage of growth, our top priority is developing a robust platform which meets the needs of international students but also enables training and skill development. To achieve this, we are seeking investment from individual and institutional investors.
Also, we are seeking to build an advisory board with key mentors from the education and recruitment industry.