A new start-up is helping students to boost their wellbeing and personal development with its unique product launched through Teesside University’s FUEL programme.
Semester Student Planner, founded by Teesside University graduates Nathan Marr and Joe Hilton, designs and produces bespoke student planners which promote personal growth and wellbeing.
Not your average diaries, they encompass all of the practical necessities of a planner with additional features on goal setting, reflection, tasks and employability to teach students techniques which will help them to manage their work effectively and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Nathan and Joe, both 31 and from Billingham, launched the business with the help of Teesside University’s FUEL programme in connection with its business incubator, Launchpad.
The pair of entrepreneurs benefited from design, planning and sales workshops, mentoring, training sessions, and support from experienced industry experts during the seven-week programme, which culminated in them winning funding from FUEL and an additional supporter to help kickstart their business.
Nathan said: “The FUEL programme was a massive help; it allowed us to create the foundations – set up the website, start on the marketing of the product and network, as well as giving us access to funding.
“It's normally people who have already faced struggles who then need to discover something to pick themselves back up. We want to flip the script and bring it forward by enabling people to learn personal growth and wellbeing skills through a product that’s easy to follow right at the very start, so it's more proactive rather than reactive.
“We've used these techniques to great effect in our own lives and we’re getting really positive feedback – people are feeling more organised, their wellbeing is improved, and they feel like they're doing more within their lives that they enjoy.
“Starting so fast, getting the investment - it all happened because of Launchpad, and that’s why we've based ourselves here. It has great offices and there are loads of other fantastic businesses based here too, which makes it a hive of activity.”
Joe is proud to be making a difference to students’ wellbeing and development, adding: “The tools we’ve put in the planners for students are exactly what we’re using in running our business – setting goals, planning for the future and looking at our next steps – so they’re universally helpful.
“You can’t put a price on when you make a positive impact on someone’s mental health and wellbeing. If one student takes this and maximises their potential by improving their mental health and learning new skills to benefit their studies or future careers, that to us is a major win because it’s intrinsically rewarding.
“The FUEL programme has been amazing, not just with the financial aspect of the business, which has obviously been a huge help for our start-up, but also with the resources and the guidance that we've had from them as new business owners. We wouldn’t be where we are now without FUEL, so I’d definitely recommend it.”
Semester Student Planner is now based in Launchpad’s contemporary, on-campus working space housed in the Victoria building, which provides access to state-of-the-art facilities as part of the University’s £5.6m Enterprise Zone.
Steve Dougan, Head of Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “The FUEL programme is dedicated to helping students, staff and graduates to realise their entrepreneurial potential and bring their innovative business ideas to fruition.
“It’s excellent to see how Nathan and Joe have progressed since embarking on their FUEL journey a year ago, and we’re proud to have supported them along the way.
“We have recently accepted our new FUEL cohort and, looking at the success of previous participants, we are excited to see where their burgeoning businesses will take them with the help of Teesside University.”