At Pearson College London, we champion entrepreneurship by encouraging our students to not only start their own businesses, but also by having in-house start-ups to aid the students. We sat down with Mae and Sam, Co-Founders of ERIC, our business incubator for the summer months.
What is ERIC?
Sam: ERIC is an alternative careers service for young people who want to be creative or get into the creative industries. So, we are an educator on the various different options you can choose within the creative industries and also we are trying to change the perceptions of entry to the creative industries.
Mae: ERIC has three channels: ERIC Festival, ERIC Mag and ERIC Social. ERIC festival is a modern careers fair which is more fun and relevant for the young people that we are targeting. ERIC Mag is an online magazine that we run in a ‘buzz feed’ style; and ERIC Social is mainly our Instagram which is where we promote jobs and opportunities to young people.
What are the aims of the business?
Sam: On a business level, we want to blur the lines between education and entertainment as we do not really see why the two have to be mutually exclusive and we want to start creating products that merge the two into more of a hybrid. On a social level, which is the core of our business, we want to make sure that the creative industries are representative, inclusive and accessible for absolutely everyone. The reason why we started ERIC in the first place was because we didn’t find it accessible ourselves; we can say that we have both been pretty lucky when it comes to the lottery of life, so if we found it hard, everyone else must find it absolutely impossible. That is the running theme throughout everything that we do.
We also recognise that we need to go to our consumer to decide what they would like us to provide; therefore, everything that we do is designed by young people for young people. Our audience have a huge stake in our business and they tell us what we want and we create it for them. The idea is to build on that.
Mae: ERIC is a creative community for young people. We help our community by helping them to access the creative industries through providing services and products and then we connect them with the environment.
How long has the business been running for?
Mae: Since 1st January 2017, so almost 2 and a half years now!
Why did you choose to apply for the incubation space at Pearson College London?
Sam: Well we’ve worked with Escape Studios in the past on our events and we always try to align ourselves with companies that share our ambitions and aims. We like socially responsible companies and Escape Studios is definitely one of those businesses that we like to align ourselves with. As a result, we have built up quite a close relationship with a couple of the staff and we were made aware of the incubator by these staff members and were recommended to apply. It fits in very well with what we do and as we are a small business, we do a lot of running around so having a central base is really important for us.
Also, aside from logistics, working in a building where there are young people all the time, especially creatives, is hugely important to us and will be really beneficial. We want to be surrounded by young people all the time.
How do you think that this can help the business grow?
Mae: It gives us resources so we can work and have meetings in this office space which is really important for the business. Being in this environment is also really motivating as being amongst other start-ups and students keeps us going and is an inspiring place to be. We also wouldn’t have access to mentors and tutors if we weren’t here.
How do you think you can help the students at Pearson College London?
Sam: Firstly, as we are two female founders, we think that this might be quite interesting for female students as 98% of investment from Venture Capitalists last year went to start-ups with male founders. We are going to be looking for investment soon and we would love to be a role model for students and young women who are looking to start their own businesses but are nervous about getting that seed funding.
Mae: At the core of our business, we are a youth-led brand. I think that the fact that we value students’ opinions and views and we want this on a regular basis will give students spontaneous and planned opportunities to contribute something to a real start-up operating in the current business climate.
Sam: I think that this makes it a really unique opportunity.
Mae: We have also come up with a really unique new type of business. We are not a traditional business model and we have carved a niche. I think that this is something that the students could find interesting because you do not always have to follow theories and tradition. We have built something based on a problem that we saw.
What does the future look like in your eyes for ERIC?
Sam: We want to be able to grow. Currently, we pay our audience on a freelance basis for the work that they do for us but we haven’t yet been able to employ them full time. We would like to get investment so that we can start to really invest in those future generations that we are trying to help. So, we would not only like to expand the ERIC community externally, but also we would like to build an ERIC family and have an internal team that will be able to start creating the bigger ERIC.
Mae: In terms of expansion, at the moment we are based in London but it would be great to go national with ERIC. We want to grow our creative community and work with more companies to make a different in the way that they attract young talent.
Sam: We are super happy with being the brand that is at the forefront of change, but quietly. I think that that is how we have positioned ourselves so far as for us, it is not about self-promotion, it is about making a positive change. And I think that in a way, if you don’t shout about it, you can have more of an impact.
Mae: The mission is to empower the next generation of creatives.