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2015

Student stories - getting a new business off the ground

4 August 2015

Postgraduate student Colin Gray – who is currently studying for his PhD at Abertay – was recently awarded a prestigious Enterprise Fellowship by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The fellowship is intended specifically to help postgraduate students turn the outcomes of their academic research into high growth businesses.

Colin has received funding for one year to help get his business – The Podcast Host – off the ground.

Here, he tells us more about it and the fellowship scheme itself.

What is so good about an Enterprise Fellowship?

“The Enterprise Fellowship is a scheme that aims to encourage the formation of high growth companies in the UK based on the outcomes of academic research.

“It's great because they provide a salary for a year, and a full programme of teaching which aims to get everyone up to scratch in business practices.

“They also provide mentorship through industry veterans and further funding for equipment, events and other things that might benefit your business.”

How did you hear about it and what made you apply?

“I heard about it through Alan Feighery of the Enterprise Campus North. They ran an event for postgrads interested in business and the Enterprise Fellowship was something they were promoting there.

“Since I was already running a very small business as a part-time job during my PhD I thought it sounded a really amazing way of turning that into a fully-fledged company and so I applied!”

How did you get into this area of research?

“My background is a bit varied, but mainly it's in web technology and online learning.

“I worked for Edinburgh Napier as an online education lecturer and adviser for five years before taking on the PhD here.

“Throughout that time, I worked as a web designer and online business consultant part-time. And that's what led to the part-time business – The Podcast Host – that I ran throughout my PhD.

“My PhD research was around online education for entrepreneurs and work-based learners.

“I developed a model for online learning in that context, which I've shown is more effective in generating engagement with learning than traditional methods, and it’s this model that I’ll be using to build my business this coming year.”

How did you come up with the idea for The Podcast Host?

“I taught lecturers how to podcast throughout my time at Edinburgh Napier - it's a really innovative and effective way to engage students, so it came up time and time again.

“While I was teaching it, I also started to podcast myself and ended up running a couple of shows through the university.

“Through doing that I discovered a few different things that were a problem in the industry and I used my web development skills to create a solution.

“I also discovered that podcasting has power way beyond education and can help businesses to grow an audience and promote their products in a really value-adding way, as opposed to pure selling.

“The combination of all of that led to The Podcast Host website where I offer courses and services which aim to help any person or business start podcasting.

“The business will create online courses based around my model, do client audio production, and create a whole lot of media which is aimed at offering both free and paid support to businesses around the UK.”

What kind of people is The Podcast Host aimed at?

“The Podcast Host is aimed at two types of people. First, those who want to podcast themselves but need a bit of help along the way. For them I have really thorough and effective courses which take them through it, step by step. These are based on the entrepreneurial education model I developed through my PhD which ensures they're really engaging and effective for working learners.

“Second, for those who want to podcast – but don't have the time – I offer production and mentoring services. That means we can do everything for an aspiring podcaster apart from the presenting! They talk, we produce – taking care of all of the technical elements.”

How is it different from current podcasting technologies?

“It’s different from something like Audioboom or Mixcloud in that we're a support company, offering education and services, rather than a digital platform.

“For our production customers we can provide hosting and broadcast, but we're really about supporting people and businesses in getting started, in promoting themselves, and in keeping their show going over the long term.”

We wish Colin the best of luck in getting The Podcast Host off the ground this year - sounds like a great idea!

To find out more about it, visit thepodcasthost.com or drop Colin an email.

For more information about the The Royal Society of Edinburgh's Enterprise Fellowships, visit their website.

To find out more about research opportunities at Abertay, please visit our research pages.

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