Jess Scarsbrook

Studying towards a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts
UCE Student Profile Jess Scarsbrook

UCE Involvement:

Summer Startup Programme 2017/18

Bootcamp 2017

Kathmandu Social Enterprise Challenge 2017

Entré $85k Challenge 2017


University of Canterbury Diversity Society (DeSoc) General Exec 2017

What project are you working on at UCE?

Aspirations, a social enterprise providing a practical pathway to employment for young people with intellectual disabilities. We provide hospitality training and practical experience for people with these disabilities. Lately, we have changed our business model, rather than running Aspirations as a training café ourselves, we are working with other cafés to run our training programmes using their premises. This means we don’t have the responsibility of running a café which works out better for everyone involved.

How did you find the UCE Summer Startup Programme?

It was so good. The people especially, students and mentors, everyone had something valuable to give. It was really good to get external feedback because when you’ve been working on the same project for a while, you do kind of get stuck in your own head. I was working on Aspirations for a while by myself before the programme and before meeting, Jacyntha, which was a lot harder.

What are people’s reactions to Aspirations?

There’s a lot of really good support because there is not really anything like it in New Zealand. I got a lot of useful input out of the programme and made changes that made my venture more. The Summer Programme was good getting to a point where we have a strong enough proposal to show others. The reaction has been largely pretty good and everyone wants to help which is nice.

So, you now have a team mate, how did you meet her?

Jacyntha was actually the first person I talked to at the UCE Summer Startup Launch. We clicked straight away and eventually became friends. Her venture fell through a week later and she needed a venture, so it was natural for her to join me. We both have experience and passion for this kind of work, so it just made sense.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?

The biggest challenge has been having an idea that people are hesitant to give feedback on. I didn’t have a lot of experience and if people aren’t willing to give you that feedback it can be quite hard to figure out where to start. Once you find your feet though, it starts falling onto place.

What is your most memorable moment this summer at UCE?

Getting 26 out of 25 for our cheesecake at the ‘My UCE Summer Team Rules’ morning tea competition. I am very competitive so was very pleased with that score.

What do you find interesting about being an entrepreneur?

It’s totally not what I expected to do while being at university! I fell into the whole entrepreneur scene by chance and have ended up really liking it.

What advice would you give to another student considering starting up their own venture?

Just do it. If you don’t try it, you don’t know if it’ll work out. Don’t worry about making mistakes, if you’re never going to try it, you’ll never know if it’s going to work out.

What are your plans for this year?

To keep studying and keep working on my venture. The first stage we hope to have out by midyear is the first stage of training for the adult trainees. I also want to have a venue finalised and a group of trainees to help them start working towards their qualifications.

And what are your aspirations for the future?

In 5 years I would like to see myself graduated! I would like to see Aspirations roll out around the country not just Christchurch but to other cities that can benefit. I would also like to see out first group of trainees working out in the community, this would be good to see and I think it would start to change people’s mindset about it all.