Racheal Olaosebikan-Somoye | UR Launchpad 2020 Winner

Racheal Olaosebikan-Somoye is a 2020 graduating student from BA Mass Communication. She is also the winner of the 2020 Launchpad competition. We recently caught up with her to discuss her project and future plans.

Can you tell us about your business?

Desireé Dolls is a new line of dolls that celebrates fashion and diversity. Desireé aims to provide a representation of black women. We currently use traditional African Ankara and kente to create contemporary styles that celebrates culture and identity and we strive to expand our brand to include fashion that is representative of various cultures from around the world.

What was your experience with the Launchpad Competition like?

Taking part in Launchpad is one of the highlights of my year so far. The bootcamp was extremely informative as I learnt a lot of things about running a business I would not have considered prior to entering. It was a great opportunity to network with like-minded students and alumni which fanned the flames for my passion for my business.

Other parts of the competition involved creating a two-minute video pitch, which was extremely nerve-wracking as I had to make the judges want to invest in my product in that short space of time, and building a business canvas which helped me visualise Desireé Dolls as a reality I needed to actively take the steps to achieve.

I also took part in a one to one meeting with advisors so I could learn exactly what I needed in order to put forward a successful pitch. This one was ten-minutes long and the judges asked a number of questions regarding possible challenges ahead. Overall, it was an easy and exciting process but it challenged me mentally because I had to consider every aspect of my business in greater detail than ever before.

Did you come up against any challenges?

One thing I was really worried about doing was creating a financial forecast. It involved a lot of maths, numbers and excel work so that was a huge hurdle I had to overcome. I dedicated time to learning how to use excel (The one good thing to come out of quarantine) and ended up creating a three-year financial forecast as well as a one-year cashflow projection.

If you could offer advice to any aspiring entrepreneur, particularly one considering the Launchpad competition, what would it be?

The three main pieces of advice I would give is;

1. Always have a purpose behind your business. Your purpose will dictate the decisions you make. Are you driven by financial gain? Is there a moral or ethical purpose behind your business? The reason for you starting your business will directly determine the steps you take to succeed.

2. Planning and preparation is key. I have had the idea for Desireé since I was 16 and one thing I always told myself is that I will never know when an opportunity will arise so when it does I am always going to be ready and know everything I need to about my business plan.

3. Do it properly, take the right steps legally and financially. There is no rush.

Similarly, if you could offer any advice to current students moving into their next year of study, what would it be?

I would tell students progressing to make the most out of all the university has to offer. Arrange tutorials with your lecturers as it could be the difference between getting a 2:1 and a first. Use the careers service, library services, wellbeing  and the rest. There is so much available.

I had lunch with one of my lecturers and she told me to look for services on campus that could help me start my business. That is how I was introduced to the Launchpad Competition.

Finally, what are your plans for the future?

I will be heading off to China in August to start my new job as an English teacher. I will also be working on launching the Desireé brand and establishing Desireé as a competitor in the doll industry. I also hope to pursue a masters at the University of Roehampton when I return!

The University of Roehampton changes lives by helping our students to develop the confidence, knowledge and values they need for a successful and fulfilling life. We produce world-class research that helps us understand the world and change it for the better.

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