The Tech Partnership

Jack Culpan

How I created a start-up to help university societies

By Jack Culpan, ITMB student

About me:

I’m Jack Culpan, a final year student at Lancaster University studying the ITMB degree alongside juggling various societies and jobs. The flexibility and variety of modules throughout the degree have proven very useful to get me to where I am now. Combining this with my past experiences working in societies and sports clubs, I realised the need for Sponsor My Society.

My position as Vice-President for Lancaster Snowsports involved a lot of researching and emailing correspondents, often with little responses. This was the fuel that motivated me to create Sponsor My Society, to help simplify and speed up the sponsorship process for societies allowing them to focus further on their members. Over the past month, I’ve signed up over 100 societies and sports clubs across the UK from over 25 different universities!

What is Sponsor My Society?
Sponsor My Society is an online platform that connects university societies and sports clubs with businesses. Student committee members can sign up their student group and access sponsorship opportunities on the site, as well as uploading their key events to a collaborative calendar which is accessible by companies. What is unique about Sponsor My Society is that it allows societies and sports clubs to access affiliate opportunities - something rarely done in this sector. We all know the successes of Deliveroo and Uber's referral schemes, and as more companies start to follow in their tracks, it is opening more opportunities in the student market. One area I’m focusing on is articulating these referral programs and presenting them in an affiliate form that can be used by societies to generate funds, providing further value for their members.

I created the site using Squarespace, and have managed to incorporate JavaScript, which I was lucky enough to have learnt whilst studying my degree. I chose Squarespace as I felt that creating a new website from scratch would be very time-consuming at this stage.

What I’m hoping to get support for:

I’m looking for businesses that want to help support societies and assist in the amazing things that they accomplish. Working with student societies and sports clubs is a great way to heighten a company’s CSR, whilst really making a difference to a student’s experience at university. I think with greater collaboration students will be able to participate in bigger events, further their knowledge on possible graduate schemes and company’s values before they start graduate life.

Aside from the affiliate opportunities, the other sponsorship model I’m pursuing is the more traditional style of sponsorship, a lump sum investment for the society which then unlocks access to mailing lists, communication channels, social profiles, events etc. This method is used more regularly by the likes of the top four consulting firms, with more companies starting to realise the benefits. I’m working to show the real value of both sponsorship models to companies who might never have considered societies as a communication channel, and how the use of this platform can help them easily make that connection.

How I can help other students:

I have implemented a student jobs page into the site, as I believe the types of students visiting the website (entrepreneurial, motivated, self-starters) are prime applicants for roles such as Student Brand Ambassadors and Influencers. Hopefully, this will allow companies to harness this student niche. Running a society/club (especially a large one) is similar to running a start-up, and gives students an excellent experience of finance, customer service, event management, marketing and much more. I personally believe that they make outstanding applicants and will go on to do great things.

Why did I choose to study the ITMB course? 

I always had an interest in technology from a young age and after enjoying GCSE ICT, it encouraged me to study Information Technology at A Level. From there I learnt skills such as graphic design, working with databases, HTML/CSS and computer ethics which I have found to be extremely useful skills in life.

The ITMB degree was the perfect choice for me, as due to my dislike for maths it made a full computing degree less appealing. The ITMB degree gave me the perfect balance between computer science and business, allowing me to fine tune my modules to suit my style of learning and interests. It also looks great to employers which is a definite bonus! The flexibility was one of the main points which attracted me to the course, and being able to meet a varied group of people from different subject areas has been great too.

How the course has benefitted me:

Before I went to college I had little interest for education, and pursuing a degree was the last thing on my mind. After studying Information Technology at college and enjoying learning new practical skills, it lead me to research into the ITMB degree scheme. The practicality of the degree was a key selling point for me, as other options seemed too theory based. If I hadn’t have found the ITMB degree scheme, I believe that I would currently not be studying in further education and I can honestly say it has completely changed my outlook on education!

The ITMB course has allowed me to study a wide range of modules that have ultimately made starting a business that much easier. From accounting and finance to marketing, to business information systems, combined with learning practical and ethical computing has given me the knowledge needed to approach this with a more experienced and positive outlook. It’s also been the main talking point when networking with other ITMB course members, especially when introducing Sponsor My Society to the ITMB societies I’ve been in contact with. The ITMB course has also allowed me to study entrepreneurship alongside other skills which has been very useful when listening to guest speakers explaining how they started their businesses. All in all, the course has given me a wide but detailed range of skills that are valuable in both the start-up and graduate world, I’m very glad I chose this course and would recommend it to anyone!

Visit sponsormysociety.co.uk or email jack@sponsormysociety.com to discuss how you can help to support university societies. 

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