Rotsen Ibarra, alumnus, BA Business Management graduate and street food entrepreneur
London South Bank University gave international student Rotsen Ibarra the skills, knowledge and support to turn his passion for food into a business
International student Rotsen Ibarra always wanted to be a chef, but he also wanted to run his own business. At London South Bank University (LSBU), he was able to bring together his dream and his business aspirations.
Getting a taste for business
Rotsen came to London from Venezuela to learn English. But after seeing the diverse array of food being sold all over the city, he was inspired to start a business that brings Venezuelan food to Londoners.
Unsure of what form his business would take, Rotsen enrolled on the BA in Business Management at LSBU.
"Everything in my degree was so relevant to starting a business. Most of my modules involved start-ups and I'd use my own business ideas for assignments. I applied all the techniques I learnt to my business, whether market analysis, finance or accounting," he says.
"The idea for my business came to me in my second year. The assignment was to create a business plan, including creating a product, a brand and pricing. I realised that my idea could become a viable business."
Rotsen's business idea has become Petare, a pop-up stall and catering business serving authentic Venezuelan street food.
Now a father, Rotsen and his wife Katherine sell at various markets and pop-ups across London including Lower Marsh Market. The team also provides venue catering for different events.
He also runs @StrFoodJobs, a free Twitter service that connects traders with people looking for temporary food work. But his primary focus is still the future of Petare.
From entrées to entrepreneurship
Rotsen's idea for Petare was fostered through support at LSBU. "When I came to LSBU, I joined SBE and found out about the Student Enterprise team. I told them my business idea, got involved in the Start & Evolve talks, and found out about EiA," he recalls.
EiA (Entrepreneurship in Action, now called Spark) is a business start-up scheme giving LSBU students support, guidance, funding and office space to trial an idea while studying.
"EiA is a great opportunity for people who want to start a business but have no clue about what they are doing and want to test out a product or idea. You also get to meet like-minded people from different schools who are also trying out their ideas," comments Rotsen.
Rotsen is currently on LSBU's Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (GES), which provides graduates with further funding, expert business mentoring, workshops and office space to grow their businesses.
"GES is next level. It's real life. Everyone is serious and focused on what they are doing. The energy in the GES room is contagious and motivates you to keep going. Student Enterprise are really involved and offer good support and ideas – they want you to do well," he says.
Find out more about Student Enterprise at LSBU.