“When people think of students, they tend to think of lazy, pasty couch potatoes, and for some, that’s pretty accurate.
But students Max Kalu, David Bissell and Sean Lee Rice have broken the mould, and created the UK’s first university-based fitness show – the aptly-named ‘Mr University’
Max, a 20-year old politics student at the University of Swansea explained: “The lazy student stereotype isn’t helped much by the sort of promotions students are exposed to. When they arrive at university they might receive a fresher’s pack and half of it is usually nights out and fast food vouchers.”
“But you don’t really hear about the large number of sporty, proactive students and Mr University is a showcase celebrating these values,” Max continues. “We want people to take more pride in themselves and in what they do to achieve their goals. There’s no reason why you can’t still have a little fun at the same time!”
The emphasis on fitness is something every student is used to seeing around campus, but undergraduates setting up their own successful businesses is much less common. Students have to balance university work, part-time work, a social life and exercise, but Max’s advice for entrepreneurial students is simple.
“Go for it. Uni is a great time to start up in business. We’re left with a lot more free time and none of the commitments of someone working full time, so you have plenty of opportunity to focus on defining your idea clearly, and really practice selling it to other people.”
Although the first Mr University competition on 16 March looks set to be a great success, the path to where they are now wasn’t without its challenges. Sean, a 21-year old Civil Engineering student at the University of Swansea, explained the biggest challenge that any entrepreneur faces when starting their business: money.
“Capital was an issue,” he says. “As three young guys we didn’t have much money behind us so we all work other jobs on the side, which reduces the time we can put into the business.”
But even in the current climate, a business can work if you find a way to raise some cash. Sean advises: “Do as much as you can yourself before approaching anyone else. Look for grants, schemes and challenges”.
“Max and I have been taking part in Big Ideas Wales, which is a scheme to help young entrepreneurs in a number of different ways.”
“Also make sure you talk to your university, most unis provide some sort of support to student entrepreneurs – we’ve found Swansea and Leicester Universities really helpful.”
Although it was a challenge, it looks as if Mr University has come out on top. The boys managed to bag Microsoft as a sponsor by getting in touch with senior management through the company’s student brand ambassadors, as well as LDN Muscle – a London based bodybuilding company established by four brothers, which according to David, is “making big waves in the fitness world”.
Mr University is well on its way to becoming a huge success, but why go to the trouble of establishing a business in the first place? It can be difficult, but the trio do a good job at selling the idea.
“I’ve always wanted to be my own boss”, says Sean, “and to be able to have a project that I can call my own.
“We recognised the need for a Mr University competition when we wanted to enter one ourselves but found out they didn’t exist!”
For Max, the spark behind Mr University was “realising that once my degree is over I’ll be in the same over saturated jobs market competing for employment with millions of others”.
“And setting up a business based around what you love is a beautiful thing,” he adds.
It seems odd to think that for some, it’s easier to start your own business than get a graduate job, but at the moment it might be the best option.
But what is Mr University doing for students’ fitness? It seems like it’d be hard for the average student, living mostly on Tesco Value frozen pizza, to get big biceps and washboard abs – but David, recent Aerospace Engineering graduate from the University of Leicester, disagrees.
“New members are joining all the time and finding their fitness with MASS (Muscle and Athletic Sports Society).
“With Mr University we’re aiming to use the competition as a showpiece event but we want to change people’s attitudes towards fitness and healthy living. We also plan to help complete beginners get involved in fitness and healthy living, by providing information like workout and diet plans.”
And with all the boys training for a reasonable six to seven hours a week, it might not be too much of a time investment if you fancy getting big for next year’s Mr University.
And with entrants being in with a chance of becoming the face of Mr University for one year, a photo shoot with a professional fitness photographer, and automatic funded entry to Fit Factor, a bodybuilding competition at BodyPower Expo 2014, you might be tempted.
Mr University is at the Leicester O2 Academy on 16 March, and is set to be “a celebration of the student athlete where you’ll find out what it takes to achieve a dream body whilst at Uni and be inspired to achieve”.
You can find out more information about Mr University on the website.“-http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/02/06/students-bodybuilding-competition-young-entrepreneur_n_4736255.html?utm_hp_ref=uk