Be inspired by some of the amazing entrepreneurs from the Oxford ecosystem.
They all started with the germ of an idea and went for it. Read the real life stories from entrepreneurs in all stages of their journey, with a link to Oxford. . . successes, failures and everything in between. Here’s just a few entrepreneurs we’ve selected, but discover many more awesome stories here.
Puja Balachander and Katherine Tredinnick – Devie
Puja Balachander & Katherine Trendinnick are both University of Oxford Alumni (Puja, MBA, St Catherine’s College & Katherine, MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation, St Antony’s College) and in March 2020 they launched Devie.
Devie is a social enterprise with a mission to close the school readiness gap that starts in the early years. This is done through Devie, an AI-powered coach who supports parents to encourage their children’s development in the early years through personalised coaching and research-based activities. Devie supports every parent to help their children grow, one automated chat at a time.
“I believe a successful entrepreneur is someone who is incredibly enthusiastic about their idea, is able to adapt in the face of challenges that arise and someone who stays humble enough to keep learning and growing.” – Katherine
“An entrepreneur is someone who sees a pain point that’s taken for granted or seen as inevitable, and acts to change it” – Puja
Matt Pierri – SociAbility
Matt Pierri is the CEO and co-founder of SociAbility. SociAbility is a young, motivated organisation working to mainstream accessibility information to empower people with disabilities to greater social engagement.
Sociability helps disabled people find accessible places. Whatever you’re looking for, get detailed, reliable & accurate accessibility information in the palm of your hand. We know only you know best. We don’t use vague labels like ‘accessible’ or ‘inaccessible’ – because accessibility is personal. Instead, we give you the details you need to decide if a place is accessible for yourself – no matter where, why or with whom you’re going.
“Entrepreneurship is pursuing a novel idea to an old problem, often against the odds and convention.”
Dr Ilana Wisby – Oxford Quantum Circuits
Ilana Wisby is CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC), an early stage Oxford University spin-out company founded by Dr Peter Leek. OQC is building the heart of a quantum future with the power of employing a simple, elegant approach to quantum computing.
Under her leadership, they’ve built out their core team – crossing academia with industry, and set up the UK’s most advanced quantum computer to date. OQC’s quantum computer is already a complete functional unit, including the control system, hardware and software. It is the only commercially available quantum computer in the UK.
“I see entrepreneurship as a mind set. To me, it’s a growth mind set. The ability and desire to grow as an individual, to grow as a team, and as a company. Entrepreneurship is about passion. It’s both a mind set and a lifestyle choice. But most of all, it’s about investing in people.”
Bunmi Ayeh – The Loop
Bunmi Ayeh is University of Oxford alumni holding a Masters in Business Administration, Said Business School. Bunmi is a co-founder of The Loop. The Loop is a tool made for fashion retailers to better understand how customers behave and why they buy from their stores. This data helps brands improve their in-store customer experience, and facilitates operational efficiency.
The Loop is a shopping experience and analytics platform for fashion retailers Designed to increase conversion and reduce returns, while generating real-time metrics on shopping patterns. It helps retailers to deliver cutting edge experience to their shoppers without significant expenditure or major changes to business as usual.
“There are three very great things about being an entrepreneur in Oxford: there are many resources in Oxford to help you get off the ground; there is such great talent in Oxford that also has an entrepreneurial passion and there is always encouragement on every corner”
Agne Milukaite – Cylce.land
Bikes and Oxford go together like fish and chips. After graduating from MSc in Migration Studies at Oxford University, Agne Milukaite moved to Berkeley, California to work for a Canadian home robotics company. She returned to Oxford to launch cycle.land, a peer-to-peer bike sharing social marketplace.
Cycle.land is a community of bike sharers, connecting people who are passionate about cycling, sharing, and travelling.
“I am a social scientist and I enjoy bringing people together. Bikes are perfect to connect people: practical, environmentally friendly, affordable, and empowering solution to get around.”
Discover Agne’s philosophy here.
Alex McCallion – Greater Change
Alex McCallion is an Oxford graduate (Jesus College, Economics and Management) and co-founder of Greater Change, helping to provide a way of giving smarter to the homeless. The app allows people to give to someone who is homeless directly and know the gift is spent effectively.
Alex realised that his idea could work when how many different types of people and organisations were excited by it when he told them about it . The idea has come on a long way since then!
Irina Fedorenko – The Kindness Collective
Irina is doing a DPhil in Geography and the Environment at Oxford, Green Templeton College. She is a Weidenfeld Hoffman Trust scholar, and co-founder of a social enterprise the Kindness Collective.
The Kindness Collective aims to support female farmers in India’s poorest province, while also providing outstanding quality organic household detergents to UK customers.
“I always loved starting new projects, making ideas happen. I thought that a project like the Kindness Collective has a potential to not just lift people out of poverty, but to create sustainable farming models and preserve Indian forests – all the things I care about.”
Read more about Irina’s social enterprise.
Kabir Bali – Jumpstart
Kabir Bali is an Oxford alumnus, having graduated from Magdalen College in 2016. Kabir joined Monitor Deloitte as a Strategy Consultant before leafing to co-found Jumpstart.
Jumpstart is the startup graduate programme. They train and place graduates in London’s most exciting start-ups, providing mentorship and support along the way. At the end of programme, over 90% of candidates receive a job offer within three weeks.
“If the definition of entrepreneurship is thinking about new ways of doing things, to be one, you need to able to approach conventional problems for an unconventional perspective. You will find it hard to identify gaps in the market to build on if this isn’t the case”
Read many more profiles of our amazing Oxford Entrepreneurs in our Entrepreneurs Uncovered section on our website. Who knows, perhaps you will feature here one day too!
If reading isn’t your thing, check out our Student Entrepreneurs sharing their top tips in our videos. From how to get funding, what to do with your big idea and what’s the best thing about becoming an entrepreneur, they share their knowledge, gains and pitfalls.