By Hannah Catmur
Get Out! Explorers was imagined during my final year at University of Leeds whilst working on a Major Project for my Design and Communications degree. I researched heavily into technology, specifically its growing popularity and the effects of this on a young generation. It became apparent that children across the UK were not spending enough time outdoors; they were becoming less active and losing touch with the natural world. Studies proved the importance of time spent outdoors to a child’s health, physical and mental well-being.
With a personal interest in ‘digital’ and the outdoors, I realised that there was nothing to merge the gap between a child’s online virtual world and offline natural world. The idea for Get Out! Explorers was born. As a one-of-a-kind platform Get Out! Explorers is a place for children and their parents to discover and share cool places, events and activities. Inspiring adventure, the platform brings to life competitive and rewarding social elements. I completed all wireframes, designs and content to bring the brand to life, presented it to my lecturers and completed my degree.
Graduating in 2011, I looked to work in the digital space (despite my degree being mostly print based). By researching into what employers were looking for, I was able to develop, enhance and tailor my skills accordingly. Whilst many of my friends headed to London in search of work with recruitment agencies and grad schemes, I stayed at home to save money and gain further experience. I enrolled on courses in web, mobile and app design, alongside part-time work at a web developers to learn basic development. It was, and still is, essentially to have a strong online presence to portray your experience, that way you can them be confident in your skills and experience.
A few months later, I was discovered on LinkedIn by a startup digital media agency in London, they required a designer to work on a range of client projects, and the development of their own ideas. This was a steep learning curve, I had to apply what I knew previously and learn quickly. Through this, and a number of jobs since graduating, I realised that (as cliched as it sounds) I wanted to do things differently and working for somebody else proved challenging at times. This encouraged me to set up as a freelancer, giving me more responsibility and direction to work with my own clients.
I have to continually improve my skills, stay updated with trends and manage a work/life balance; this challenges me and what I learn can be applied to Get Out! Explorers. Being awarded £300 from O2 Think Big and now Think Bigger, I’ve been given access to tools, articles and resources available to young people wanting to start their own businesses in the UK. It’s an exciting space to be in right now. As somebody who never envisioned working for themselves, now I couldn’t want anything else and O2 enable me to develop my idea, work with mentors and build the platform. I maximise every opportunity that they sent me for networking, events and workshops. There is a ‘bubble’ of entrepreneurs, investors and business people in the UK and word-of-mouth is a powerful tool to get your name and business out there.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is one of these opportunities to learn and network. I’ll be attending the ‘Panel Discussion with Startup Entrepreneurs on Self-Funding Businesses’ talking about combining freelance work with building your own startup. I’ll be talking to like-minded people and entrepreneurs at the ‘Startup Networking Session’ too on November 20th.
Finally, my advice to anyone starting out in the world of business would be to “don’t follow the crowd”, strive to do things differently and seek opportunities in everything you do.
Hannah Catmur is a budding entrepreneur and professional designer, graduating in 2011 from University of Leeds with an International Honours Degree in Design and Communications. She is the Founder of Get Out! Explorers, an edu-game for children which will launch in BETA in 6 weeks. @GetOutExplorers