City, University of London and CityStarters: nurturing London’s tastiest tech start-up

City, University of London and CityStarters: nurturing London’s tastiest tech start-up

This case study orginally appeared on page 20 of the State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

City University London has come a long way since it was founded in 1894 as the Northampton Institute. Today, City’s research covers areas as diverse as compressor technology, climate change, optometry, data visualisation and economic theory.

Few universities are as deeply embedded in professional industry as City, and organisations can benefit from a comprehensive range of business services: from student placements and internships, collaborative research projects including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, consultancy and commercialisation, through to continuing professional development, executive education and short courses. Start-ups and small enterprises can take advantage of City’s incubation support programmes or benefit from co-working space in the heart of Tech City. Undergraduates and graduates learn vital professional and entrepreneurial skills during their time at the University, leaving them ready to join employers of any size when embarking upon their chosen career path.

One of the University’s top priorities has been to create an effective support environment to help launch the next generation of tech start-ups. CityStarters – the enterprise education arm of City University London – exists to fulfill this mission. CityStarters organises extra-curricular events and competitions, and offers business support services and web resources for budding student entrepreneurs who want to see their bright ideas get off the ground. Recently, the programme kicked-started Eatro, a home cooked dinner delivery service initiated by City graduate Daniel Kaplansky and his two childhood friends, Bar Segal and Zifeng Wei.

The three friends began their young business because they were passionate about homemade food and wanted to share this passion with the world. Today, Eatro is making headlines everywhere from The Financial Times to The Evening Standard.

The three graduates began their business journey a year ago with an initial concept, but their idea was refined through CityStarters. The trio’s concept is simple. Eatro is an online platform that allows time-poor Londoners to connect with ‘home chefs’ in their neighbourhood, company-vetted home cooks who want to sell extra portions of food prepared in their own kitchens.

Eatro aims to “challenge and democratise the takeaway industry” by offering an alternative to the “mass-produced, unhealthy and tasteless” meals consumed by people on the go. Instead of getting a supermarket ready meal on their way from work, a hungry Londoner could pick up a healthy and delicious homemade dinner from their local home cook. The business has been tipped to become a new Silicon Roundabout success story.

Daniel, Bar and Zifeng believe in the ‘sharing economy’ and their business concept fits with their collective vision. Eatro appeals not only because of its social nature, but also because it helps reduce food waste and mobilises a new breed of food entrepreneurs.

The Eatro team were regular participants at CityStarters’ start-up business events, prize winners of CitySpark, the University’s enterprise competition, and have received mentoring and advice from Ben Mumby-Croft, a marketing expert and Enterprise Education manager at City. They are currently benefitting from CityStarters’ formal mentoring scheme that pairs student start-ups with successful local entrepreneurs.

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