Launching and growing a business can feel like a huge achievement, but graduates can still face an uphill struggle on the road to success.

Even the most successful founders have a tough time tackling managing a business when it comes to marketing strategies.

To help you tackle these challenges, Plusnet have partnered with to bring together some of the UK’s most exciting start-up founders at a round table discussion, where they offered students their tips to help sales and raise brand awareness.

The roundtable was held as part of our new Plusnet Pioneers campaign enlisting some of the UK’s top entrepreneurial talent to create helpful tips small business grow in competitive industries such as retail.

Read on for their dos and don’ts for marketing and funding, as well as advice on how to keep momentum up when the going gets tough.

Dos and don’ts for marketing success

  • DON’T expect your marketing efforts to bear fruit straight away
  • DO have a focused marketing strategy from the start
  • DO prioritise social media and make it a priority to your business
  • DO put the customer first in your marketing strategy
  • DON’T rush to get your product or service to market

DON’T expect your marketing efforts to bear fruit straight away


Cathy White: founder of CEW Communications

CEW Communications is a PR and communications firm which works with growing tech and digital start-ups such as Blooming Founders and Gift Wink. Launched earlier this year, the start-up has grown without investment to date.

“A number of companies come to me and talk about a need for PR and needing the press to get their name out, but actually when you ask them what they’re doing with social, no one necessarily has an idea about what their strategy should be.

“Social media is generally considered low hanging fruit and low-priority, but it should be one of the higher priority marketing channels.

“Whoever takes care of your social media should have a really good idea of what they’re doing across each social media channel and have an idea of why they’re doing it. If you just fawn social media responsibilities off to an intern you’re never really going to see what that social channel can do.”


Riya Grover, co-founder of Feedr

Feedr is an online marketplace that enables Londoners to order artisan food for delivery to their home or office. Launched in January 2016, the company now works with over 100 vendors and has raised significant funding from high-profile investors such as Wonga founder Errol Damelin.

“We’re a marketplace, so we’re placing other people’s products. And a big consideration for us is how we get out own brand presence on the site. We can wrap things physically, we can get labels, but actually what’s very effective is trying to use social media for people who are engaging with products on both sites to engage with us.

“Another realisation I’ve had is just how much content you have to do as a business for social media. There’s just so much to put out, whether it’s marketing campaigns or blog posts or website copy that needs working on – it’s something that we hired for much earlier than I would have anticipated.”


Together in electric dreams

Today I am going to tell you the story of how I got offered my dream job. But first a little introduction. My story starts two and a half years ago when I first came to the University of Kent. I was keen and passionate fresher that couldn’t wait to start learning about film, but I was clueless when it came to how I was going to get it and who was going to give it to me. It is basically the endless dilemma of the chicken and the egg; you need experience to get a job, but you get a job if you have experience, which you can only get if you have a job… You understand the problem, don’t you?

But that still doesn’t explain the dream job thing does it? Well, this is how I did it. A few years ago I watched a film, I enjoyed the film and googled the production company, I promptly foundthem on FaceBook and liked their page. (The seed was planted.) After a year I contacted the company for an internship, I called them up on the number on their website and got the email of a producer. I emailed them and told them who I was and asked if I could intern there. I was rejected. Obviously this seemed like the end of the world at the time, but as the world has a habit of doing, it kept going. My already budding love for documentary pushed me to go to a Documentary Film Festival, the largest in the UK; looking over the program I came to a realisation, one of the films being shown was from the production company I had contacted so many months ago. So what did I do? I emailed the producer, because rejection number one should never make you
lose hope. I asked them how they were and said that I was also at the festival. They happily set up a meeting; and I realised that employers are human after all. We had a great chat and they invited me to contact them after the summer to arrange work experience. I made sure to do just that. We set dates and I went off to London and had one of the best experiences of my life; learning the ropes, researching, pitching ideas, editing in mandarin and drinking strong coffee. I worked
on two inspiring projects and got the contacts that will help me out after I graduate. In fact, one week after I got back to ‘the real world’, one of the directors contacted me to offer me a place to work on their next film; It is still in very early stages, but this is how I got offered my dream job.

Who got me the job? Well, I need to thank my family and friends for always encouraging me. I need to thank the Careers and Employability Services for giving me the confidence, improving my CV, and giving me professional and caring help and advice, I need to thank BKEW, because travelling in London is expensive, and knowing that my experience was important enough for them to fund made me work all the harder. And finally I am the one that got myself the job. You are always the harshest judge of yourself, if you put in the work and demonstrate your passion, you can do anything.

– Elena Morresi is a final year Film student at the University of Kent

Kent Alumni: Startup Stories @unikentalumni

About you: Monifa Walters-Thompson graduated from Kent in 2013 with a  first class degree in Law. She spoke to BrighterBox, a graduate recruitment platform working with high growth startups, about her time at Kent and how it was the perfect springboard for kick-starting her career.

What were your first impressions of Kent?

I was apprehensive before arriving at Kent in 2010, but from my first day, and the Keynes College Pub crawl, I was hooked. That’s when I met my first friends at university, some of whom even studied law, like I did and those relationships continue today.

Law must have been an intensive course. What did you enjoy most about it?

I really enjoyed course work and had the freedom in third year to do two dissertations. The tutors were supportive and of course, the opportunity of working in the Kent Law Clinic was invaluable.

How much of a factor was your time at Kent in your career?

A huge factor. I am a barrister now, so without my education at Kent I’d be nowhere. I got a 1:1 in my degree, giving me that springboard as a BME student trying to get to the bar.  I don’t know if I would have achieved as much anywhere else.

You have also had experience working at an innovative background-checking startup called Onfido – what was that like? What was the best thing you did there?

Onfido was a big start up (3 countries, 100-120 employees). Everyone was kind and friendly and I had a lot of opportunities to take on different work. The best thing I did on a personal development level was travelling to the US and working with the team out there; helping to set up compliance in that office; and assisting Onfido in inter-country office communications. I had the chance to do and see so many new things during that time because I was given that opportunity. For Onfido, I think the best thing I did was honing in on communication between the customer success team to ensure everyone knew how to access information they needed to perform the role effectively. I worked with other team members to create a knowledge base of foreign documents which I hope is still in use today (!)

Sounds like a varied role! Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing right now?

I’m now a self employed barrister working in family law. It’s pretty busy, lots of reading and taking on board new information. Each day is definitely a challenge!

As someone with a range of experience, what advice would you give to a graduate looking to get into the startup world?

Just make applications and be ready to start from the bottom and work your way up. Use what you know and what you’re interested in to take you that step further and make yourself stand out. Creating a niche for yourself is really how to progress in a startup so always look for opportunities.

BrighterBox helps ambitious graduates kick-start their careers at exciting start-ups like Onfido.

Graduate and Internship Opportunities!

On Friday the 29th September 2017 between – 11 am and 3pm there will be Civil Service Fast Streamers (and Kent Alumni) on UKC campus Plaza – giving out information and answering question on graduate scheme and internships details of which are below.  This would be great opportunity for Final Year Students, Penultimate year Students to get information about careers in civil service.

Fast Stream 

The Fast Stream is an accelerated career path to leadership with supported development. We are a graduate employer that is consistently ranked in the top five of The Times Top 100.  Join us if you’re interested in:

  • Responsibility and permanent employment contracts from the start.
  • Intellectually challenging work.
  • Excellent training and long-term prospects.
  • An opportunity to make a difference.
  • Good work-life balance.
  • Playing a crucial part in major national events.

There are 15 separate Fast Streams – covering every aspect of the Civil Service including Digital, Commercial, Finance, HR, Generalist and Diplomatic. No matter your degree or interest there is a Stream that will interest you! Applications are open now!

Summer Diversity Internship Programme 

The Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP), is a paid two month internship in the Civil Service, aimed to give people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the Civil Service is like. It puts talented undergraduates and graduates on a work placement in a government department.  Are you eligible?

If you receive a positive appraisal during the 2018 SDIP internship, and then apply for Fast Stream 2019, you’ll be fast-tracked past the initial online selection stages.  This gives you an excellent chance of Fast Stream success.

Back to life. Back to reality.

It’s nearly the start of a brand new term. The ‘what am I going to do with all this time’ summer is over. What did you do with yours: earnt money, did some work experience, eat.sleep.rave.repeat?

Whatever you did we are thrilled to have you back at Kent. While you’ve been away we in the Careers and Employability Service have been preparing all sorts of exciting things for you. Our hope is that they will take the stress out of finding jobs and work experience, applying for grad roles or continuing your studies. We offer everything from quick CV checks and job finding workshops, to mock interviews and assessment centres. Pop along to any one of our free sessions during the term to collect employability points.

And for those of you arriving for the first time this September – WELCOME! It’s good to have you with us. Really embrace all the great stuff university has to offer. Be enriched with subject knowledge and practical skills through your course; develop courage and resilience as you navigate university life, some of you away from home for the first time; realise your strengths and weaknesses; get better at planning your time (or faster at typing!). All these skills add up to one super employable graduate.

Once you’ve settled in to your halls/houses you’ve got your timetable and you’re in a good rhythm, why not come and see us?

The Careers and Employability Service is open:

Mondays: 10.30am-5.00pm

Tuesdays-Fridays 9:00am-5:00pm

We’re located between Keynes College and the large D-shaped bus stop. You can pop in for a 5 minute chat or book a 45 minute appointment with one of our advisers. There are computers to use and helpful resources to take away. All this info and more can be found on our website: We look forward to seeing you soon!


Top Tips for video interviews – Video killed the face to face interview

Video interviews are becoming a popular choice with graduate recruiters such as Aldi, Bird and Bird, Skanska and FDM. According to a recent AGR Survey 42% of employers have used video interviews. You can find out more here.

So what exactly is a video interview?

This blog will focus on one-way video interviews where an employer is using online video software to interview. The interview questions will be pre-recorded and the interviewee will be given a set amount of time to answer each question. At no point during these type of interviews are you talking to a live person. The interviewee will be given a log in for the software and will usually be given the option to complete a practice question before the assessed questions begin. The instructions on how to complete the interview will be clear. A typical amount of time given is 30 seconds to read the question and 2 minutes to respond but this will vary from employer to employer. The time will countdown on the screen for each question.


The good thing about a video interview is that the candidate can complete the interview in their own time and at a place convenient to them. The only thing needed is a computer and a webcam and some video interview software will also work on a mobile phone.  This cuts out travel time and costs. Video interviews also cut time and costs for recruiters and mean that they can replay anything that interests them. As video interviews are timed all candidates get a fair and unbiased experience.

Top tips

  1. Understand the mission and values of the organisation. Research the company and the sector just as you would for a face to face interview.
  2. Complete the practice question at the beginning of the interview. This will help you understand what the time given to answer the question feels like. Practice watching and timing yourself answering questions before the interview by recording yourself on your mobile phone. Maintaining good eye contact is key so practicing before the interview will help you with this.
  3. Complete your video interview at least a couple of days in advance of the deadline incase technology fails you
  4. Make sure your background is professional and that you are dressed smartly. The employer can still see you when they play the video back so dress the way you would for a face to face interview!
  5. If you have time left on the clock at the end of a question do act naturally- do not pretend the camera has frozen!
  6. Make sure that you complete your interview somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Tell your housemates beforehand and put a sign on your door.

If you have a video interview coming up and you would like more advice and support please do come and visit us during a drop in session in the Careers and Employability Service building.

You better work work work work work!

It’s summertime! Time to relax, spend some time with friends, laze about in the sun, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Sure there’s time to do some of that, but the summer vacation is the perfect time to find some work , not only to earn a bit of money for the coming academic year, but also to gain some work experience!

Does your CV have a skills gap? 

Is there something missing from your experience that would be really useful in the future? Which skills do job descriptions ask for, and can you provide all of them? Think about what you want to gain, and look for work experience that will tick that box.


Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience and skills. You won’t get paid, but you’ll be supporting a charity as well as making new friends and learning new skills. Charity shop work can help you develop customer service skills, time management, creativity (think about window displays and merchandising of stock) and organisational skills. Going abroad to help build a school or dig a well will give you cultural awareness, resilience, time management and team working skills. Employers love seeing volunteering on CV – it shows that someone is interested in the world they live in and is keen on giving back.

Some ideas:

Summer camps and language schools

Thinking of going into teaching? Want to gain some leadership skills? Summer camps and language schools could offer you these skills. Look online for local opportunities, and look around on campus – language schools take place across the summer at Canterbury campus, so find out who they are and where they are, and get applying.

Some ideas:

Talk to your friends and family

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” So many jobs are filled by people already known to a company, or someone who works there. Ask around, and see what’s on offer. You could find your dream job!