"If you're aspiring to take a plunge into entrepreneurship, Surrey is the place to start. Surrey will help you do it and you can even get start-up funding for your project from the University!"
Maciej Kokot is CEO at Fellow Foods. He has started three businesses since graduating from the University of Surrey.
What attracted you to choose Surrey and to study your course here?
I had it easy - back in 2010 only a handful of universities in the UK offered PG courses in Entrepreneurship, so my choice was narrowed down for me. Surrey seemed like the best option - with a strong academic record, excellent facilities and infrastructure (and you DO need that for social sciences, too!) and within close proximity of Europe's busiest business hub, I made my mind up within hours.
What is your strongest memory of your time at Surrey – what do you picture first when you think of being here?
My strongest memories are Lecture Theatre 1 in the Rik Medlik Building (Faculty of Management and Law back in my days) and Manor Park. In business, relationships you make are just as important as the knowledge you gain and Manor Park created some of the best friendships I've had ever since.
What is the one thing you would say about Surrey (or your course) to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
Keeping it simple, I'd just say "go to Surrey, you'll thank me later!" But in all fairness, I'd mention the superb staff and facilities, excellent accommodation and sports venues, and the kind of people that are hard to find elsewhere. For the first time, my course mates were genuinely interested in everything we had done, and we were equally immersed in Entrepreneurship both inside and outside of the classroom. Last but not least, I would recommend MSc Entrepreneurship as such - writing a business plan instead of traditional dissertation was of great advantage to a person like me, with strong preference for applied knowledge.
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey postgraduate, and how has your time here influenced your life and career since then?
I have COMPLETELY changed as a person. From small things, such as changing my activity habits, to a complete change in attitude towards business per se. Arriving in Guildford, I just wanted to "get through" the course and "be done" with my degree. When I was finishing, it was all about possibilities that my time in Surrey gave me. Once again, relationships and heavily applicable knowledge were all that mattered.
What has been your career highlight to date?
So far, I have successfully failed one start-up company and helped develop another two start-ups (which are still around and will keep it that way, fingers crossed!).
What are your top tips for students aspiring to work in your profession?
If you're aspiring to take a plunge into entrepreneurship, Surrey is the place to start. You'll hear voices saying: "don't study Entrepreneurship, just do it!" Surrey will help you do it and you can even get start-up funding for your project from the University!
You'll also hear people saying "Entrepreneurship can't be studied, you're either born with it or you're not". Well, being born with it is one thing - and letting your inner monster out is yet another! The worst case scenario is you'll get a well-rounded management degree with focus on small companies rather than big companies your undergrad course focused on.
Finally, all the stuff you'll hear on your course IS TRUE. You will make mistakes, stupid mistakes as well. But the bottom line is, after you have been warned about the setbacks ahead, it's easier to overcome them and keep moving on. This is, by far, the one most important thing I took away from the University of Surrey.