Business in the Spotlight: Fish on Toast!
- Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m also the Co-Founder of property technology start-up, Glasspad. We’re looking to change how students rent housing, how landlords manage student properties and to make this experience better for both sides. As a northerner down south, I believe it’s my responsibility to show them here how we do business.
- What is Fish on Toast all about?
Well, Fish on Toast as Southampton University’s Entrepreneurship and Business Society helps every student reach their ambitions. It’s an important and extensive goal; our aims are to create opportunities for students to start and launch their business, to meet incredible mentors and have the ability, knowledge, and connections to build the career they want.
This is obviously an ambitious goal and we achieve this in a number of ways. We run weekly events in Southampton. These give businesses and students the opportunity’s to connect and to learn from incredible success story’s from entrepreneurs and investors (including a number of Dragons, top VCs and tech entrepreneurs). We also run conferences, mentoring programs, a start-up accelerator and have built relationships with incredible partner organisations like Future Worlds, NACUE and Barclays Eagle Labs.
The best part is we achieve our goals. We helped start 13 companies and from a survey of last year’s members, 94% (from 53 respondents) are in the careers they wanted with 100% saying Fish on Toast helped them achieve their ambitions. With over 300 members, reaching weekly over 3000 students, we’re the leading entrepreneurship society in the country.
- What makes Southampton a great place for business?
Southampton is in a great location since we’re easily accessible from London and with the docks, Southampton is a hotbed of business and entrepreneurial activity on the south coast. We’ve also got large multinationals based in and around the city, such as Carnival, JP Morgan and IBM. This is really great for us since we can connect students to mentors in these institutions and we can form partnerships to help Startups really flourish.
Southampton also seems like a pretty unique city, since there are very few chain shops and restaurants, this is also really great for us since there are so many SME business owners that we can work with. This exposure for students is great and we work really well with these businesses through our Student Apprentice Competition.
Students are a great asset for businesses to work with. Students are in an accelerated stage intellectually and educationally, constantly learning new skills and developing new ideas. Students who intern or work with businesses can really drive innovation and accelerate growth. Students are also in an ecosystem where innovation is crucial and they have access to some of the best minds in the world, they can bring this knowledge and inspiration to businesses.
I also think student organisations and companies are a great way to help many different businesses. Student businesses by definition are very young and tend to move incredibly quickly, often because of the above-mentioned capability for innovation but also because of their ability to adapt, improve and take risks. We’ve seen this with GlassPad – the landlords we’ve worked with have been able to boost their revenues and help to improve how students perceive them.
Through Fish on Toast, we’ve managed to bring our skills and experience to a number of companies, including multinationals when helping them to set out new strategies and interact with new technologies or movements.
Fish on Toast is now almost 15 years old. This has given us a huge amount of time to build up a strong reputation. Unfortunately, a few years ago we had developed a very negative reputation within the University and with a large number of business clients. Over the last couple of years, our new teams have put in an incredible amount of work to repair the damage, reconnect with lost businesses and make the society remarkable again. We’re really proud of where we are now but know the massive impact word of mouth can have around campus.
We’ve seen both the positives and negatives of word of mouth. We continually get new members, mentors, and speakers because people love what we do and how we do it. It’s very rare that anyone would get a negative opinion of Fish on Toast and when we do receive negativity we work hard to improve.
Word of Mouth is so important to us and we actively seek to develop it. It’s why Recommendable is such a great platform for us, the more recommendations the better people see we are and the more people want to get involved.