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FLUX Winners: They Mean Business

10 May 2018 - 15:30
Monocle Solutions founder David Buckham (far left) and David Casey (third from left), UCT Careers Service Director, present the award to the FLUX winners

 

They were four complete strangers. However, within 24 hours they managed to scoop R15 000 in prize money because of their collective drive, business acumen, teamwork and entrepreneurial spirit.

UCT students Bongekile Buthelezi, Emirhan Caner, Xiluva Maswanganye and Sameshan Perumal showed that smarts, grit and teamwork were some of the skills needed to be crowned the First Semester FLUX winners 2018.

FLUX is an entrepreneurial business game hosted by UCT Careers Service (CS) with the help of its employer partners. This year, banking and insurance consultancy firm Monocle Solutions (Monocle) came on board as its headline sponsor.

FLUX allows students from all degrees and years of study to compete in teams to solve a real-world challenge and practise their strategic-thinking skills. It uses the growing trend of gamification to help teach “studentpreneurs” the skills involved in business planning, as well as how to pitch an idea.

Students apply as teams or individuals and compete in groups of six. A case study is presented to teams the night before the event, which students try to solve the following day. This year, Monocle provided The Monocle Business Case Challenge, which was focused on streamlining the recruitment process for businesses seeking new talent and for graduates entering the workplace. Teams were required to provide a viable business model that would fulfil the needs of both graduates and employers by providing a seamless end-to-end process for recruitment.

David Buckham, Monocle founder, says that FLUX gives students a feel for what business is about, including the issues and challenges faced by business people and entrepreneurs.

“It encourages them to think about questions such as, ‘Where is funding going to come from?’ or ‘What are the business’s fixed costs?’. Although they have great business ideas, these are some of the practical questions that many of the students have never even contemplated. This makes the event an amazing learning opportunity,” he says.

During the full-day challenge, teams receive advice from experts in Strategy, Marketing, HR and Finance. They then compile a business strategy and solution, which they pitch to a panel of judges. Three teams are chosen as finalists and square off in a final 90-second elevator pitch, after which the winner is chosen. FLUX, which is entering its fifth year at UCT, was initially largely paper-based; however, this year, the CS further streamlined the evaluation process by introducing technology in the form of online Google docs, which employers accessed via their mobile devices.

“This proved a very positive change – the use of new technologies was very effective and added to the event’s ability to create a fun environment,” says Buckham.

First Semester FLUX winners, the Exciting Entrepreneurs, called their business Week@Work, or WOW. WOW would provide an outcomes-based, outsourced internship programme to companies via a simulated work environment. Graduates would be put through the programme, given the exact tasks expected of them as real employees, and would then be evaluated. The results of the evaluation would be given to the respective company.

For Maswanganye, who is studying towards a BSC in Engineering in Mechatronics, finding a business idea small enough to solve a big problem was the real challenge. She says there were many checks and balances that needed to be ticked while working through their idea. “The execution was most important,” she says.

Caner, a first-year Bachelor of Social Science student, felt that learning to work and interact with people he had never met before was the most challenging, but the most rewarding, aspect of his experience.

But what was the drawcard to enter? Buthelezi, a Bachelor of Education student, has always had a keen interest in business, which is why she decided to sign up.

Overall, the experience proved both challenging and rewarding. Master of Science student, Perumal, felt that the game was an effective way to expose students to the expectations and pitfalls of starting a business. “It was great to interact with the business partners and receive their feedback,” he says.

Do the winners have any advice for future participants? “You need to be able to refine a rough diamond and turn it into a final product. Viability is important,” says Caner.

Hishamodien Hoosain, FLUX Project Manager, says that it is one of the most exciting entrepreneurship events he gets to manage. “If I had the opportunity I would grow FLUX so that we have more students participating simultaneously, due to the popularity of the event and their keen interest to participate. It’s a great event as students get to interact and network with employers at all levels. It also helps them realise that entrepreneurship is viable as a career choice.”