Simon Powell, MSc Digital Marketing graduate turned entrepreneur
MSc Digital Marketing graduate Simon Powell had 20 years' experience in financial services and the travel insurance sector when he came to London South Bank University (LSBU). While at LSBU, he spotted a distinct, growing gap in the insurance market and developed the idea for a new business called Fit2Trip .
Fit2Trip is a travel insurance provider for people with disabilities and health impairments. "Outside the UK, it's very hard for consumers with a pre-existing health condition to get travel insurance," explains Simon. "I came up with the idea of using the underwriting expertise available here in the UK to develop a product for the continental European market that incorporates medical screening, a system that allows customers to declare their medical conditions, enabling them to get cover for their health conditions; this gives customers the peace of mind they need at the same time as helping insurance companies manage the risk."
Fit to start-up
With the help of Student Enterprise at LSBU, Simon started his business in 2014 through the Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme, which provides LSBU graduates with funding, advice, guidance and office space at the Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation.
"Having the idea is the easy bit – it's executing it that's hard. The funding and practical help I've had from the University has got me where I wanted to be quicker, and it's also enabled me to retain control – otherwise I think I would have ended up in a Dragon's Den-type situation, having to hand over part a large part of the business to an external partner.
It's brilliant to be here in the Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation too, surrounded by creative and dynamic people.
In 2015 Simon won first place in the Start Up category in Make It Happen, Student Enterprise's competition for students and graduates with the drive to succeed as freelancers or entrepreneurs. He was awarded £2,000 funding, a year's free office space and a membership to the Institute of Directors.
"This is a fantastic boost for my business at this critical time of its development and I'm grateful to the judges, particularly given the excellent competition I faced. The office space prize will ensure that I still have access to LSBU's excellent facilities and the Student Enterprise team," he says.
Given Simon's successful experience at LSBU, he is quick to recommend it to other would-be entrepreneurs and business people. "Embrace the opportunities that LSBU can give you academically, socially and commercially," he says."It's also important not to just think about your course, but what you are going to do afterwards. LSBU provides a fantastic platform for start-up enterprises and employability."
Tenacity to succeed
Those opportunities, Simon feels, are enhanced by our central London location. It's in the heart of the world's greatest city, where there are so many opportunities, he says. "If you have the tenacity to succeed, which is essential in any industry, then at LSBU, you'll find there's always a way!"