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Henry Jinman

Warwick Ventures has launched its Software Incubator with recent graduate, Henry Jinman (BA Politics with International Studies 2010-13), as its first ambitious entrepreneur. Henry’s idea is a crowd-funding platform for projects developed by University communities. The Incubator provides a base for Henry to develop his business and access to Warwick Ventures’ commercial support and mentor network.

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How did you go from Warwick to the Software Incubator?
Having won a Santander University Entrepreneurship (Business Plan) Competition at Warwick, I was determined to pursue my business idea further. It was obvious to me that I needed advice and support. Warwick Ventures (the University’s research commercialisation office) were a natural stakeholder in the business as improving the quality and quantity of start-ups coming out of Warwick is a mutual interest. They invited me to be the first entrant into their new incubator which launched this year.

What do you do at the Incubator?
The incubator occupies two rooms in the Avon building on Westwood Campus. I can work and hold meetings there. Typically it is the place where I grind out difficult tasks, in an office environment free from distraction. But more importantly the incubator provides me with access to the support, knowledge and expertise provided by Warwick Ventures.

What is Crowdfund Campus?
Crowdfund Campus is the business I am working on in the Incubator. It is a crowdfunding platform for University communities. It will provide the opportunity to invest in student projects, alumni start-ups and research-led spin outs from Warwick and other British Higher Education Institutions. Find out more here.

You studied Politics and International Studies at Warwick, how does this help you in your role?
My business is somewhat removed from my studies, however my link to Warwick is important to my role. My whole business is built around the idea of University Communities, and so understanding students, alumni and the University itself is paramount to understanding the stakeholders and customers of the platform.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?
By their very nature start-ups are subject to uncertainty and turbulence. This environment makes it difficult to plan a start-up but also my own life. I moved back to Warwick, and put the business first. I focus my efforts on the business and try to find paid work around it. It is not always easy, and is certainly not sustainable in the long term.

What have you done that you are most proud of?
Although almost everyone who reads this will have been awarded a degree from Warwick, mine came with particular difficulties. I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in my first year of University, missing much of the year and narrowly passing at the discretion of the PAIS department. Although this hardly counts as something I have done, but rather a necessity I was forced to overcome, I am proud that I persevered to catch up with my studies and achieved a good result in the end. I am fit and well now, and enjoying the new challenge of starting a business.

I will feel an enormous sense of pride and achievement when ambitious entrepreneurs find the investment through my platform that enables them to start their businesses and see their aspirations realised.

What drives you?
I have always been entrepreneurial. I bred sheep when I was 10 in an attempt to make a profit. I organised a talent show in Monmouth in 2009 raising money for charity which has continued to run every year since, and started coaching tennis in rural primary schools around Herefordshire. My last business saw me selling crepes at festivals and starting an outdoor event catering business. I have always felt a natural, inherent desire to be my own boss, and I am driven by the freedom and autonomy that this affords me.

What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
Getting up and running. I am currently trying to raise investment to build the software, ensure proper regulation, find a Compliance Director and start crowdfunding Warwick businesses. I would welcome any support or advice from experienced alumni and encourage them to get in touch with me. My start up story can be followed on my website.

What was your favorite aspect of the PAIS course at Warwick?
The international scope. I spent much of my second year abroad in Hong Kong. In addition, the variety and flexibility of the modules enabled me to study Russian, Mandarin, and the political and economic transformations of South East Asian countries.

What would you tell someone thinking of studying at Warwick?
For any entrepreneurs, I would say it is a very exciting time to be studying at Warwick. The Warwick Enterprise Partnership and the Warwick Venture Software Incubator have recently launched and with the addition of my platform to the community, the University is building a real infrastructure for supporting and promoting entrepreneurialism and start-ups.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently during your time as a student?
Certainly. I enjoyed my time at Warwick but in many ways I don’t think I took advantage of all it has to offer. I wish I had joined more societies, and in particular societies relevant to my course. I also wish I had joined a sports team, having coached and played tennis since I was a child.

How do you balance work and life?
I am taking risks now, and working hard. I feel I am making sacrifices today so that I might enjoy a more prosperous future. I work from the incubator on campus and I still have friends at the University and so fitting in some ‘life’ around the work is not too difficult.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I have many interests, probably too many. I find areas of law, finance, business, consultancy and politics that all appeal to me.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
I would hope to have started, built and exited my first start-up. A secret ambition is to make it onto a Forbes 30 under 30 list (although I will be 33 in 10 years time). But all being well, I would hope either to be running a successful start-up or realised an exit opportunity and be studying for an MBA.

What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?

  • I wear a jade Hei Matau (fish hook) pendant from New Zealand around my neck that my sister gave me. I am not a superstitious person but it is believed to bring good health and safe passage over water. It has not left my neck in three years. I think it may come in useful on a desert island.
  • Sun cream. An Englishman does not fare well under desert island sun.
  • A pistol with one shot. Pirates of the Caribbean fans will understand.

What are your favourite memories of your years at Warwick?
My time at Warwick felt short but formative. I will remember and be thankful to Warwick as a place where I met great friends, supportive lecturers and even learnt to breakdance a little.

Do you have any advice for new graduates?
There are other options to banking, law, accounting and consulting (but it will probably be less stressful to stick to the status quo).

Henry Jinman: the facts
Age: 23
Lives: Kenilworth

Monmouth School
BA(Hons) Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick

Career: Currently a fledgling ‘wantrepreneur
Interests: Tennis, languages, travelling (especially in Asia, I love the food)