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Edinburgh Graduate on Road to Success Proves Inspiration for Students in Edinburgh

An Edinburgh PHD student who has established launched a match maker car sharing solution will be among those sharing their advice with hundreds of students at a regional enterprise day taking place at the University of Edinburgh on 16th November 2011.

The regional enterprise event, which will cover everything from sparking your idea to the practicalities of setting up your own business, licensing, marketing and achieving commercial success, is part of a month long programme of activities organised by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) to encourage, inspire and develop the spirit of enterprise among students at Scottish universities.

Zoom2Work [www.zoom2work.co.uk], which was established last year is one such example. University graduates Jonathan Millin (25), Nick Pilkington (26) and Mike Winn (26) knew they wanted to start a business offering an online customised car pooling service, but it was thanks to the support they received from SIE that they were able to turn their ideas into reality.

Explaining how the idea took shape, PHD student, Johnathan Millin who lives in Edinburgh, said “We had what we considered to be a good idea but none of us had any experience of starting or running a business. We attended SIE’s start-up day and other SIE events which put us on the right track and we also received significant help from Launch.ed at the Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre who guided us through the start-up process.

“Our research identified 2 out of 3 drivers in the UK think car pooling is a good idea, but they are often put off by the organisational logistics involved. Crucially, one of the other most common pieces of feedback we received was they didn’t like the idea of putting up with their passenger’s annoying habits!

“We developed a car pooling website where people can register their details, share their likes and dislikes and we match them to car pools in their area. This means we can offer passengers and drivers a safe and enjoyable journey, where they can meet like-minded people, in the knowledge they are saving money and helping to reduce carbon emissions, as well as congestion on our roads.”

As well as helping individuals reduce their carbon foot print, the founders of Zoom2Work, which have already won numerous awards, including: Abbey Bank (now Santander) Pitching Competition, SIE New Ventures Competition (Category Winners), Innovation Cup, Acceleration Pipeline, and Shell Livewire Grand Ideas Award; are also speaking to companies who want to be take responsibility for their part in creating a greener environment.

“We are currently in discussions with a number of very large companies, not just in the UK but as far away as South Africa” said Millin, “who are interested in adopting Zoom2Work as a company scheme which they can own, badge and promote to their employees. Not only does this provide their employees with a green, safe and friendly choice of transport, it’s also an ideal solution for companies who want to reduce the size of staff car parks and the carbon environmental costs that go with that.”

Commenting SIE chief executive, Fiona Godsman said, “Zoom2Work is a great example of the entrepreneurial talent that exists in our universities and colleges. These regional enterprise days are aimed at harnessing that enthusiasm and talent and providing opportunities and support that will inspire and encourage more young people like Johnathan Millin and his colleagues, to become Scotland’s next generation of successful entrepreneurs.”

The Edinburgh regional enterprise day will include presentations by Tom McGuire from SIE; Paula Skinner and Rachel Thomson from Harper Macleod LLP; Rebecca Barr from Edinburgh Research and Innovation; Brian Baillie from University of Edinburgh, and Anna Lawn Thomas from Shell Live Wire.

SIE is also co-hosting an evening session with the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club, featuring presentations from Rachel Armitage, Product Director at Skyscanner; Alexander Cole, Managing Director at Peekabu Studies Ltd; the Editor of The Skinny and former Prospekt Entrepreneurship Fellow at Edinburgh University; Melinda Matthews of IBM; and Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, Co-founder of Deliverics Ltd and Nexxus and Young Scientist of the Year 2011.

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