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Arthur Escoffier, ERASMUS student turned app entrepreneur

LSBU is helping food-loving French student entrepreneur Arthur Escoffier to develop his idea for a takeaway delivery app based around the sharing economy

When Arthur Escoffier first arrived at LSBU, he freely admits that he was a little unsure about the adventure that was awaiting him. “I’d come to London from France as an ERASMUS student,” he says. “It was a fantastic way to improve my qualifications and enhance my CV at the same time – but to start with it was difficult. I was abroad without my family and friends, and I spent a lot of time wondering what I was going to do with my free time.”

Practical and academic skills

At his enrolment, Arthur learned about the services and opportunities that LSBU offers student entrepreneurs, through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. “I was immediately interested,” he recalls. “I saw the events and services as a great way to gain practical and academic skills. I researched their offering on the LSBU website, and applied to as many programmes and events as possible.”

Cooking fresh food

One thing that Arthur particularly missed about France was the cooking. “It may sound like a stereotype, but I do love to cook and eat fresh food,” he says. “When I arrived in London, I really missed going to markets to buy fresh meat and vegetables – I often didn’t have the time or the money to do it.”

I think it’s really important that students gain entrepreneurial experience while they are at university…the best advice I can give anyone is to involve themselves in the services offered by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. It’s a decision you won’t regret.

Arthur Escoffier

Sharing economy

This led Arthur to start thinking about food delivery, and ways of making better food available to more people. “I read that Uber was trying to develop a food delivery service in Paris, and I asked myself  - why not me?” says Arthur. “I decided to think about the delivery of fresh food based on the sharing economy, with food delivered by individuals like you and I. “

Developing ideas and skills

Like many entrepreneurs, Arthur began to develop his idea working alone. “I was working from my student room, but it was a very difficult experience,” he admits. “I didn’t know where to start, but once I heard about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, I knew that it was somewhere I could get help to develop my ideas in the right way.”

Initially, Arthur found himself explaining his ideas to the team at LSBU.“I talked about my plans and ambitions for the project, and they advised me to enter their Pitch It competition. I like a challenge, so I did!”

Arthur found that the process of having to explain his project to others, including uploading a video of his pitch, helped him to develop entrepreneurial skills that he might not have developed otherwise. “It was a great opportunity to practice your communication skills and become more confident – especially for a foreign student. You are given feedback about your pitch to help you improve, and I was delighted to finish seventh.”

Spark Programme

As well as the Pitch It competition, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute helped Arthur through their Spark Programme, which Arthur was invited to take part in. “It allows you to develop your project and yourself,” says Arthur. “Part of the programme focuses on making sure you have the right kind of mindset to start an entrepreneurial career. Other parts test whether your project is viable and that you know what direction you want to take it in. “

Lots of work in the Spark Programme is done in groups, so participants discuss and collect feedback on each other’s projects. “It allowed me to get a clearer idea of my project,” says Arthur. “I understood which parts needed changing and which parts didn’t, and really helped me to refine the project.”

Business Solutions Centre

Arthur took his relationship with the entrepreneurship at LSBU a step further when he began working as an adviser in the Business Solutions Centre, a student-led advice clinic for small businesses – another way in which he feels his skillset has expanded during his time at LSBU. “It was the first time I had ever worked in a foreign country, and speaking a second language with professionals was a challenge,” he says. “I learned about time management and responsibility, and enjoyed being in charge of clients’ projects while under the supervision of an academic member of staff.  I had to be analytical, accessible, rigorous and professional, and it was great to feel useful and valued as part of the team.”

Entrepreneurial experience

Arthur is now turning his attention to the future, and has been accepted for an interview at a prestigious business school in his native France, but feels that his career has been helped immeasurably by his time at LSBU. “I think it’s really important that students gain entrepreneurial experience while they are at university,” he says. “I think LSBU is the perfect place for student entrepreneurship, and really involves itself in helping students to build their future. The best advice I can give anyone is to involve themselves in the services offered by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. It’s a decision you won’t regret.”