A selection of LSE PhD students and graduates recently shared their experience of entrepreneurship during and after their PhDs. Read their biographies below – they’re impressive people, and encourage you to be equally so! There are also a few key messages to repeat about getting started, the people, your motivation, and resources.

The messages

  1. Find people you want to work with, people you like and who know what they’re doing. Make sure they bring different skills to your enterprise.
  2. Get started! Work out your market and if you can, start alongside your PhD and let your idea grow.
  3. Work out how you work best and use that to your advantage to structure your time, relationships and space so you can juggle lots of projects more easily.
  4. Be proud of your LSE PhD – you have great credentials, use them for your own confidence and, when you need to, emphasise your value to others!
  5. The money – get it sorted so you don’t have to give away equity; sweat equity is cheap so do as much as possible yourself to start with, and make full use of the student network to augment your skills. If you do raise equity you should target people/institutions who bring skills and their time as well as money and are willing to join your board.
  6. A mentor can really help you get started and plan for the future.
  7. Build an institution – keep the future in mind so your enterprise can grow and at some point work without you. Gives you freedom to move on! Plan for it.
  8. LSE Generate inspires entrepreneurial potential amongst LSE students and alumni. You can make use of this service and move a step closer to finding an entrepreneurial career path that works for you. There’s a skills development programme and a series of networking events. Together they offer a unique platform to learn, market test ideas, and identify key relationships.

The entrepreneurs 

Alex Green (Chair, Economic History, ongoing)

Alex has just started a PhD in Economic History at LSE. He maintains a portfolio career combining academia, non-executive directorship, angel investing and mentoring to young entrepreneurs, social enterprises and charities. He is an experienced international business leader with two decades in energy commodities trading. He has a strong strategic, commercial and risk management focus and a successful track record of starting, developing and executing asset based trading, marketing and distribution businesses.

Andrea Rota (Sociology, 2016)

Andrea started his first web-focused business while still studying for his BA, and co-founded Xelera, a web development and IT infrastructure services studio, shortly after. His ‘dual’ background as social science researcher and software engineer shaped both his PhD research and his ongoing web development work: after a brief collaboration with a data visualisation project for humanitarian response after completing his PhD, he has just co-founded Peskïs, an independent web platform for researchers, research projects and centres.

Asi Sharabi (Social Psychology, 2005)

Following completion of his PhD in which he brought together Israeli and Palestinian children, Asi moved on to build a career in everything digital. He started Lost My Name as a DIY project with some friends. Pretty soon the project changed from being a labour of love and went on to become a funded tech and storytelling startup with the ambition of making millions of kids around the world curious, clever and kind. In three years the company has sold over 1.7 million copies of their impossibly personal books in 178 counties.

Giulia Pastorella (European Studies, 2016)

Giulia is one of the founders of ACAD Consultancy, which offers personalised consultancy and mentoring for international candidates who wish to apply to top UK universities. She is Italian and obtained a BA from Oxford University and then an MSc and PhD from LSE. She has worked on and off in the public affairs sector for the past six years and is currently Government Relations manager for UK and Italy at HP.

Stuart Theobald (Philosophy, ongoing)

Stuart is chairman of Intellidex and a director of Leriba Consulting, both of which he co-founded. He has spent the past 16 years researching financial markets and institutions in Africa, first as a financial journalist and then analyst. He founded Intellidex eight years ago to fill a gap for research that was media-savvy but driven by excellent data analytics and market research and now has a team in Johannesburg and London. Stuart is in the final year of his PhD in philosophy at LSE, researching the foundations of theoretical finance. He has pursued it part-time whilst building his business.

Jonathan Freeman (PhD International Relations, ongoing)

Jonathan began his career in the startup world in Iowa, Silicon Valley, and New York City in the telecommunications and Internet industry before making a radical change. He is a decorated combat veteran and continues to serve as a Major on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon as a Reservist. After he served on active duty, Freeman was the Deputy Director of Veterans and Military Families Outreach on the 2008 Obama for America campaign and was asked to serve as the as the Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs on the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He was appointed as the Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of Defense, where he was responsible for assisting the appointment of all the political appointees at the Pentagon. Jonathan was then asked to serve as the Senior Advisor in the Office of Civil Military Cooperation at USAID. He did his undergraduate work at University of Michigan, master’s at Harvard University’s Extension School, and holds an MBA from UMASS-Amherst. He consults on operations, strategy and political intelligence alongside his PhD.

How LSE Careers supports your career progression

Catherine Reynolds, LSE Careers Consultant for PhD Students, assists your career progression during and after your PhD studies.

Specialist PhD Careers events are held in the PhD Academy and some employers deliver PhD specific careers events (browse and book on CareerHub). Also, LSE PhD students and graduates are welcome at all our career events and should check the full list to see what’s most relevant. For example, some of you will want to come to our annual International Organisations Day (IOD).

One-to-one confidential career discussions are also held in the PhD Academy, usually on two afternoons per week. In these 30 minute appointments you can review your career; prepare for the next transition; consider ways to develop your portfolio of experience; assess your options; receive feedback on CVs, application forms and practise your interview performance. Book on CareerHub whenever you’re ready.

 

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