A few weeks ago, the Aura team were invited on to the "Best of Belfast Podcast" for a talk with the wonderful Matthew Thompson.
We talked about starting up a business during the pandemic, a little about our past, the advantages and drawbacks of student start-ups and where we expect to be in five years time.
The episode can be listened to here or wherever you pick up your podcasts:
The name the series we are a part of is "Tough Times, Tougher City". It follows multiple entrepreneurs from Belfast venturing into the uncharted territory of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Best of Belfast" is run by writer, entrepreneur and BEA alumni, Matthew Thompson and it focuses on the people who make our wee city special.
So it's extremely humbling being a part of something alongside big names like Gary Lightbody, Pete Snodden, May Mcfettridge and Zoey Salmon. Not to mention giants from our own industry such as Collin Williams from Sixteen South Studios and Professor Paul Moore from Future Screens NI.
In the content of the podcast we briefly talk about being students and how that has influenced and guided our journey into the world of entrepreneurship. It's a point of pride to Aura that we are able to break through the stigma and dismantle stereotypes.
Unfortunately a part of achieving that has been letting our student identity fall to the wayside.
The Aura team have made leaps and bounds in the past year alone. The infrastructure we have built, the connections we have made and the experience we have gained along the way have brought us so far beyond what we could have been, had the studio not established.
And through all this, our identity as individuals has shifted from being students to being entrepreneurs, business owners, producers, artists, freelancers and much more. This led to our opinion, as Eva put it in the podcast: "Pigeonholing yourself as a student is doing yourself a disservice."
So if I could give advice to students looking to go down the same route we did, or even just those who want to successfully market themselves for employment or freelance gigs, it would be this:
If you are studying fine art, you are an Artist, if you're studying marketing, you are a Marketer, if you're studying animation ( ;) ) you are an Animator! Your experience, your passion and what you're good at is not up for debate. you don't need to graduate to qualify your identity. You just need to be good at it!
I mentioned above how it is unfortunate that we've had to leave our identity as students mostly to the wayside and that's because we are quite proud of where we come from. The help and assistance that Ulster's EPY scheme gave us from the very beginning has instilled in us a deep patriotism for our student background.
Chris Shannon, Jackie Smith, Naomi Browne and Seamus McConomy all particularly deserve a massive thank you for the help and assistance they have given us, the workshops they organised and the opportunities they clued us into.
Also Nancy Brown and Deirdre Fitzpatrick from Belfast Enterprise Academy for the help, advice and mentorship they provided.
Who knows where Aura would be without their help.
We also want to thank Matthew Thompson for giving us the platform to talk about Aura, and share our absolutely mental journey with you all!
For Information about Best of Belfast, BEA, Ulster EPY, see the following:
Ulster Enterprise Placement Year