Thursday, 22 December 2016

Keeping in Uni-Mode over the Festive Period

Semester A is pretty much over & Christmas is literally around the corner - seriously where has the time gone? It's finally time to come home from university to spend this holiday season with your loved ones but unfortunately you have assignments, reports, and exams due the first week back from Christmas break. Stressed isn't the word *sigh*.

I'm sure that all of us have been through that horrible feeling of being handed work to do over Christmas. It's a student's dream to have a Christmas holiday but sadly it will only be just a dream. Even I have found it difficult to find the motivation to turn on my laptop and look at my desktop screen trying to piece together words when all I can hear is 'All I Want For Christmas is You' playing in the background. Holiday season is a HUGE distraction, however we all made the decision to attend university so having assignments over Christmas was bound to happen.

It's so easy to get caught up in the festive period and forget about your work, but trust me heading back to university and stressing out about your work isn’t the way forward. Just watching Elf and Home Alone 2 whilst stuffing your face with roast dinner isn’t the best idea. The goal for the Christmas holiday’s is to get your head in the game and finish your work. Lucky for us, there is a way to get through this. Try and follow these 5 simple tips that should make working at home during Christmas a little bit easier!

1. Be Prepared. Sounds quite simple, but a lot of students focus on the going-home-element of the festive period and forget to plan what work needs finishing whilst at home. Go through all your modules and find out when your assignments are due. Take note of your deadline dates and put them in a planner or you can use the notes app on your phone. If you can physically see what you need to do, you'll be able to manage your time wisely to get these done.

2. Disregard Social Media (if you can). I struggle with this so bad, but I'm working on it. If you can disconnect your social media accounts whilst working this will help to improve your ability to work at home. I have the tendency to write a few paragraphs and then check Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and the next thing you know, I've lost a good 30 mins of writing time. As of lately, I’ve started putting my phone on the other side of my room and I make sure that my laptop notifications are off so that I don't get the temptation to check messages from friends. Give it a go and see if it works out for you!

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help! It's normal to feel overwhelmed with work especially whilst you're at home. If you’re struggling with an assignment, don’t suffer in silence - it's not worth the headache. Get in touch with your course mates or even go the extra mile and email your lecturer. Most of the time they will get back to you and assist you in any way that they can, so make good use of this.

4. Take regular breaks, we all need them. Just because you have work to do doesn't mean you need to bury your head in your work every single day of the holidays. We all need a break sometimes just to clear our minds. Taking some time off does help as you can rest your brain and can now focus better than you did the day before. However, don't go overboard and take too many breaks as you'll lose your train of thought.

5. Aim to start the New Year with most of your work completed.  Although this seems a bit lengthy to do, it will help so much. Regardless of your work being due in January, try and get it done before New Year’s. The goal is to not bring work from the previous year into the new year. You know the saying 'New Year, New Start'? Implicate this saying into your work and you will achieve a whole new outlook when doing your work.

Hopefully, these tips will be good for whoever needs them! As a final year student, I've got so much work to do, so by having the opportunity to head home for Christmas has made me smile. If you're interested in what I get up to over the holidays make sure to keep up with me on my social media accounts below. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Tomi xox

About me:

Hi there! I’m Tomi, a third year student studying BA (Hons) Photography at Hertfordshire and a member of the Social Street Team. My interests consist of Blogging, Social & Digital Media and living my life with a positive mindset. Sounds a bit cliche but that’s what I’m all about. I do also love food and meeting a diverse range of people through my workplace inside and outside of University.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Lab Wars - From Idea to Reality

PhD student Kuly and her partner Caezar won Best Idea in the flare competition for their business, Alley Cat Games, which produces science-themed board and card games that are both fun and educational. Their first board game, Lab Wars, was launched on Kickstarter in June 2016 and has since accumulated 1,640 backers, pledging nearly £50,000 to bring their project to life. Here they tell us how they got started.

Found flare

As a student at the University of Hertfordshire I was introduced to flare by a member of the enterprise team. I was advised that there was expertise and cash prizes on offer for the best start-up ideas. We hurriedly wrote a script detailing why our board game publishing company should win flare based on what our business had achieved already plus what we hoped to achieve in the future. After a few weeks: success! We had been formally accepted onto the flare competition.

What we did

Our company was the two of us (Caezar and Kuly) working on it from home in our spare time. We’re massive board game geeks and researchers. There were a few science board games out there but they were targeted towards the parent and educational market. Essentially there was nothing out there for scientists to enjoy and poke fun at the silly things in science and research. By creating a game that was fun first and educational second it could combine the two effectively, therefore, our game, Lab Wars was born - a game of building up your lab, conducting experiments and sabotaging your competitors all based on real life events or equipment.

Kickstarter campaign

We moved from the start of the flare campaign to the semi-finals by writing a clearly thought out business plan with financial projections. It was this process that made us realise that we could actually turn this idea into a business reality. Without this stage who knows where the idea could have gone? It was a long agonising few months wait for the result but YES, we were accepted into the final!  After a great deal of time building up a community of fans for the game and harassing multiple reviewers and journalists, we launched our Kickstarter campaign. We were featured in the Wall Street Journal, Nature News, Science magazine, The Scientist and a whole host of other magazines and websites which had a profound effect on the exposure of the campaign. In the end we raised £49,000 during the month long campaign, almost 10 times the amount we originally needed to fund the game.

Final pitch

The Enterprise Team arranged a great day learning from top professionals, advising us on how to pitch - we also got to meet the other contestants. This was an awesome day. As finalists we were invited to take part in a professional video shoot to be shown at the flare final. We then had a gruelling Dragons’ Den style interview asking us specific questions after a two minute pitch to an expert panel. While the interview was nerve racking it was a great and fun experience all round.


Finally, after a month long wait the official flare final happened. We were given a free poster board and business cards and a stand to promote our business. We met many local businesses at the event and swapped many business cards. They then played out the ultra-flashy videos of each of the contestants and when it came to the Best Idea award - we won! We were totally gobsmacked. The other contestants were of such high quality that this was a real honour for us. They even gave us a shiny glass award for our efforts!  Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed being part of flare and would highly recommend entering the competition if you have a business idea.

To find out more about the flare competition at the University of Hertfordshire, visit our website:

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Overcoming the competition hurdle

In September we celebrated 11 years of flare with a fabulous awards ceremony, bringing together players from the local business world, respected academics from across the University and some of our most exciting student and graduate start-ups. 

Awards and cash prizes were handed out for Best Growth Business, Best Start-up and Best Idea and thanks to sponsorship from Eisai we were able to hand out an additional prize for Healthcare Innovation.

Of course, proud as we are to have our own university enterprise challenge, you may feel that this one doesn’t quite meet your competition needs. If you’re totally baffled by the sheer number of enterprise and business start-up competitions out there and can’t quite decide which one to enter, then don’t panic! The enterprise team are constantly reviewing what else is out there and are on hand to point you in the direction of some of the UK’s top competitions to sink your teeth into.

Taking the plunge and filling out that first application form or standing in front of the camera to produce a video entry can be a daunting prospect. There’s often a theme to enterprise competitions that goes a little something like this:

Step 1 – submit a 60 second video entry/short pitch of your idea. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect” so start by finding a family member or a friend you can trust and give it a go. 60 seconds isn’t long so write down the key things you want people to learn about your business. What’s your unique selling point, how did you come up with the idea, what research have you carried out and how do you see yourself marketing the product/service bearing in mind you may have a limited budget.

Step 2 – prepare a detailed business plan. Tricky at first, so break it down into its constituent parts, work on your stronger areas first and if you need a little help on the weaker areas then look to those around you, classmates, academics, entrepreneurs, book an appointment with one of our enterprise advisors. What starts out as an uphill struggle can soon seem like a walk in the park. Whatever happens on the competition front, you can be proud of the fact that you have written a detailed plan of action. Next time you’re looking for that loan, talking to a potential investor or just having a chat at an enterprise networking event you can feel confident knowing that you have this business plan to hand should anyone ask for more detailed information.

Step 3 – the final round. If you make it to this stage you can give yourself a pat on the back as you’re probably down to the final few, so whatever happens from here on in it’s fair to say you’ve already impressed the judges and made a big impact.

To find out more about the flare competition at the University of Hertfordshire, visit our website: and good luck!

Kate Serby
Enterprise Advisor
Careers and Employment