UCL alumna Kaitlin Fritz shares her experience of applying for a Start-up visa and co-founding a business, with support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise.
Kaitlin graduated from UCL in 2018 with an MA in Art History. She successfully applied for a Start-up visa, with sponsorship from UCL, so she could stay in the UK and launch Musemio with her business partner. Musemio is based at the Hatchery, a dedicated space within BaseKX, UCL’s startup hub in King’s Cross.
Musemio is a virtual reality (VR) education platform that brings culture to life. With just a smartphone and cardboard headset, children can adventure through curriculum-led quests featuring interactive narratives from museums across the world. (Basically, we’re building the Indiana Jones of cultural education!)
Our customers are parents of eight-to-twelve-year-olds who want to provide this cultural capital at home in an easy and affordable way. Though we aim to be the Disney of cultural education, our plan for the future is to continue growing our partnerships and platforms throughout 2020.
Applying for sponsorship for a Start-up visa
The process of applying for sponsorship is not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. It involves researching the market and your business, testing any initial assumptions you can, and communicating your idea as clearly as possible.
It takes time to really evaluate your business idea from all angles. The application gives you clarity on all aspects, from routes to market to your own competitive advantage.
You need to supply a 10-page business plan that highlights all the elements of your business proposal. I think the most challenging part for me was the financial forecasts. As someone who did not have an accounting or economics background, that took the longest and was the most difficult.
Support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise
I met with a UCL business advisor when I was interested in applying for sponsorship, and they helped me focus my idea. The business advisors here make you think critically about your business and push you to build a great, sustainable business from an outsider, objective perspective.
During the time of my application I was also taking part in the Launch programme which helped me refine my idea further. Launch is one of the three business development extracurricular programmes run by the entrepreneurship team in UCL Innovation & Enterprise. It’s an eight-week programme, with detailed classes each week on themes like branding and design, raising funding, and IP. It was a great way for me, as a non-business major, to jump into the world of entrepreneurship.
Developing our idea through research
We did a great deal of research in developing our idea. My cofounder did her MA dissertation on museums and VR which helped us have a solid foundation. Beyond academic research, we conducted focus groups, surveys, and interviews to help us narrow some of our assumptions.
Advice for others applying for a Start-up visa
Think about why you want to begin a startup in the UK and see if the opportunities here at UCL align with those goals. I would talk to the business advisors early, and see if you can meet any other entrepreneurs who have been through the process before you. Also, be sure you have all the requirements the Home Office asks for regarding the visa, like the account maintenance.
Most importantly, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete the application. I would give yourself a week or two to complete it thoughtfully. It’s a lot more work that you realise!
Being part of the entrepreneurial community
Being a member in the Hatchery means I have access to world-class mentorship and guidance every day, and I’m surrounded by some of the most innovative, creative, and inspiring people from UCL. I have made great friends and connections, as we’re all going through the entrepreneurship journey together.
Besides the free co-working space (which is great in Central London) I love being involved in the First Mondays networking events and Women in Enterprise talks with other female founders. I’ve also been a mentor/judge on the Launch programme. These events bring together so many like-minded peers who are interested in innovation, and coming to them recharges my entrepreneurial spirit. It’s great to expand your network, talk, and find others who are on the same path as you.