Skip to main content Skip to navigation

My Entrepreneurial Journey (Mads Hoefer)

In this article, Mads Hoefer (final-year PPE student) describes his experience of entrepreneurship at Warwick, and his involvement in a wide range of innovative ventures.

Before I came to university, I had already tried starting a project of my own, attempting to create a business out of bundling gym contracts for greater customer experience and comfort. However, coming from a rural town without the proper network or experience, it turned out to be a rather hard task to cope with. All the better, I landed at the University of Warwick.

Upon arrival at university, I was overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of support and inspiration offered by a number of parties. I started juggling ideas around with friends over dinner and grew my personal network of entrepreneurial spirits via societies like Enactus Warwick or Warwick Entrepreneurs. These helped me grow an understanding of what it really means to start a business of your own, which I consequently did.

One particular example is our participation at the Warwick Apprentice, hosted by Warwick Entrepreneurs. A five-day challenge with four friends together (pictured below: Johannes Pittgens, Philipp John, Jonathan Karl, and myself), dedicating ourselves to just rock whatever task we were given, spending entire nights on campus, was a memorable experience from my first year. Also, it brought us some nice prize money for winning it!

We were quite happy

We were quite happy with the result of the Warwick Apprentice

Motivated by our early success, at the end of the first year at university, I started my first project, Animals’ Move, with my co-founder Philipp John (who was also part of our Warwick Apprentice team). We were friends that just felt the urge to go out there and try something. Even if it would fail, it would be worth getting the experience. Subsequently, we joined Warwick Incubator and their 16-week programme that includes mentoring sessions, training and workshops on how to establish and grow a business, as well as pitching competitions.

This has been our

This has been our probably best photoshoot for Animals’ Move

This programme also prepared us for out first real investor pitch, at Warwick Enterprise. After sending in our application form (an investor-like elevator pitch), we quickly got an invite to come over and present our idea in front of a jury. That was intriguing, but a real chance for us to test what we have learned so far and further our efforts of getting the necessary funding and advice we needed to start up. Fortunately, they liked what we did and we were able to secure funds for the expansion of our project.

In my second year of university, with some newly won experience in what it means to be an entrepreneur, I could say that I have gotten some incredible support from the entire University of Warwick ecosystem and secured advice that will last me a lifetime. But that was not the end yet, there was more to do. So I took part in the Hult Prize Campus Round, a yearly worldwide competition for founding a social enterprise.

Within that competition, I met entrepreneurial people beyond the obvious, people that were not taking part in the Warwick Incubator, or events run by Warwick Enterprise, but specialists in their field with the vision to share their expertise for the better. Together with Aaron Baw, Paul Tanu, Jonathan Karl, and Toby Flynn, I started Icycle, and although we did not win the competition, we got to learn from an international cohort at the National Round in London and received advice that turned our idea upside down. Such good advice that today our team can be proud to have been to India, set up a supply chain for recycled plastic products, taken part as client projects for Warwick Consulting Society, raised around £15k on Kickstarter and, last but not least, succeeded in winning the Student Enterprise Fund from Warwick Enterprise again, after pitching the idea for the third time (yes, they do not splash around with cash, they know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it right).

Our core team for Icycle

Our core team for Icycle at an incubator pitch

Here we are with

Here we are with a family in Pune who invited to drink some local chai

With all that great experience, there comes great responsibility as well. That is why I spend some of my time trying to give back to the student community. As Head of the Innovation Unit and later on Vice President of Enactus Warwick, I attempted to help other students fulfil their ambitions of being a social entrepreneur. Together, we even won the award of 'Most Entrepreneurial Society of the Year' awarded by the Bright Network.

I guess you can tell

I guess you can tell, I am proud of these people

All in all, the University of Warwick has been a springboard for fulfilling my dream of having the entrepreneurial impact that I wished for before coming here. This would not have been possible if it was not for the immense support that Warwick Enterprise, student societies and the student community itself offered me.

Mads profile pic

Mads Hoefer is a final year PPE student. While being busy studying, he still found time to launch two startups during his time at the University of Warwick. During his first year, he founded Animals' Move with fellow student Philipp John. Onwards, in his second and third year, he spent time participating in startup competitions and incubators with his second venture, Icycle, with fellow students Jonathan Karl, Paul Tanu and Aaron Baw. Icycle has been successful in raising £15,000+ on Kickstarter in December 2019. During both projects, Mads and his Co-founders have been successful at winning a grant from Warwick Enterprise as well. Additionally, he participated in student societies throughout, having been Head of Innovation Unit and subsequently Vice-President at Enactus Warwick.