Setting up a Business – Former Student Gives Advice

8 students with business tutor around a conference table listening to Ali on speaker phone

For students thinking of going into business, the College arranges a programme of visiting speakers from the business and entrepreneurial world. One such speaker was former student Ali Ismail who took part in a conference call with students recently.

Ali came to study at RNC following a move from France in 2010. He studied A Level Business Studies, A Level French, BTEC Level 3 IT and Level 3 Braille. He was also part of RNC’s Sports Academy and played Goalball.

Ali went on to study a Business Management degree in Manchester. He said he had the perfect life at RNC and didn’t realise how different university would be. The lecturers were amazing but there was a lack of knowledge on how to make things accessible.

Ali’s funding didn’t come through quickly either, so he didn’t have the equipment he needed and although someone took notes, they weren’t employed to type them up, so were rendered useless.

After three months, Ali was on the verge of giving up as he had missed so much content. But his mentor convinced him to stick with it and he got back on track.

He had to be resilient and had to keep pushing for what he needed. It was a tough environment and luckily he had the right people around him. His hard work paid off and Ali graduated from university with a First class honours degree in 2018.

During the final year of his degree, Ali took part in a Young Enterprise unit. He says he used his disability to his advantage and came up with a business idea – a solution to constantly misplacing his cane – ‘HeyCane’ was born.

‘HeyCane’ involved a sophisticated device being attached to a cane which could be linked to an App on a smart phone. When the cane was lost, the App would send a signal via Bluetooth so that the device fitted to the cane would bleep and be easily located.

Ali talked through all of the steps he and his university business team went through. From concept, research, business plan, budget management and production of a prototype.

After graduation, the team decided to pursue the concept further and set up as equal partners through a Private Limited Company (PLC). However, realisation soon struck, that not everyone was thinking the same and with different priorities and work being done remotely, it wasn’t working, so they parted ways.

Ali was still passionate about the project and with the help and support of Accelerate ME, an entrepreneurial programme based in Manchester, he was able to set up a new PLC named ‘RevolutionEyes’ and continued to develop the product ‘HeyCane’.

It’s been tough, Ali works seven days a week. and at the moment he is working on the final minimal viable product or, as we know it, a working prototype.

He is also organising a pilot study so that the responses will inform whether he should progress to manufacturing or look at making improvements to the prototype.

Ali gave a hugely detailed and informative talk on every aspect of putting his business together. Students were really engaged and asked some excellent questions.

Claire Lewin, Teacher in Charge of Business, who organised the event, thanked Ali for sparing the time to talk to the students and for giving such a good insight into life after RNC.


2 responses to “Setting up a Business – Former Student Gives Advice”

  1. David says:

    Great idea positive role models is what VI people need to help them overcome barriers.. the if they can do it. iI can mentality I am sure many ex students would only be too glad to help

    • steven ramsdale says:

      I had the pleasure, and it was a pleasure to teach Hayder Ali Ismail from 2013 to 2015, for his Business course. His determination and application to fulfill his full potential shone brightly through in those years. It’s fantastic that it has continued after he left the RNC and I am so pleased to see how he is making a successful career. I am confident it will continue.

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