Innovation & Enterprise


Two alumni set up global software company thanks to UCL entrepreneurial support

Skillwork has already grown to a staff of 20, despite the founders having limited experience and a small network before coming to the university.

Ali Youssef and Jan Gasiewski

15 June 2023

Ali Youseef and Jan Gasiewski met on their MSc Entrepreneurship at UCL School of Management (SoM), where they were encouraged to explore different business ideas.

“Like a lot of our peers, we set out with the dream of building a unicorn – going through massive funding rounds and living the startup lifestyle. In the end, we’ve ended up building a smaller, more traditional business than that – but one that gives us the cash, network and experience to build our own IP or products in the future,” explained Jan. 

Skillwork provides tailored software solutions for organisations and SMEs across all sectors, including successful founders, such as SkinDoc as well as big companies like GSK. The business is based in London, with offices now also in Bulgaria and plans to launch in the Middle East, too. They were finalists in the StartUp Awards National Series. 

Ali and Jan both cite their Master’s degree and the support they received at UCL as being transformative to their journey. As well as taking part in the SoM’s entrepreneurship course, the pair were also selected to be part of The Hatchery incubator at BaseKX, UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub in King’s Cross. 

The Hatchery is part of UCL’s free entrepreneurship support run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise. There Ali and Jan received free office space and help with marketing, PR, delivery and operations, enabling them to kickstart their network in London. 

They have stayed connected with UCL and frequently visit to share their experiences, and support current students with their business ideas. 

“I’m very proud of the fact that Jan and I have accelerated our careers and created a business network that would take some people a lifetime to build. The programme and our time at the Hatchery gave us a solid foundation for running Skillwork, and a massive boost to our network, the value of which we appreciate enormously,” said Ali. 

“UCL really gave us a head start with its support system and as such we’ll be forever grateful to the university, and want to “pay it forward”. We’ve been advising a number of aspiring entrepreneurs by holding 1-to-1 monthly catch ups at BaseKX. We also have held a few lecturer/fireside chats and even helped grade pitches for other UCL startups.”

Read the full story on the UCL School of Management website.


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Photo © Skillwork

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