The science of a startup

Hassan Mahmudul founded Scientistt Ltd, a networking site for the scientific research community, as he completed his studies at Durham University. Here, he explains what the first year of running his own business has been like.

What are the circumstances that prompted you to start your own business?

While I was studying for my MSc at Durham University, I became aware of the various online platforms that are out there for researchers, and I also became aware of their limitations – they have millions of members but the number of active users is less than 1%. The sites weren’t being used for networking and I knew that I could develop a site that allowed researchers to connect with each other. My background is in scientific research but I also have an interest in business and have spent time working with a startup in Newcastle which gave me the skills I needed to set up my own business.

What business support did you access to get up and running?

I had the idea for Scientistt towards the end of 2019 and I worked with the Enterprise team at Durham University to carry out market research and test my idea with the research community.

As well as working with the Durham University Enterprise team, I had support from Durham City Incubator which gave me access to mentors and a support system within the North East. It’s a small region so you can quickly get to know the people and organisations that are out there. The security of the incubator environment gave me time to test ideas and access funding.

What are the benefits of being your own boss?

I’ve worked for other people but in the end I didn’t want to just do the nine to five and then go home. I wanted to be creative, put forward ideas, and make decisions. I know that when someone is already in a regular job that can be a barrier to starting your own business, but there are more and more programmes out there which can help you test your business idea, even while you’re working full time.

What would you say to others considering a new business launch right now?

The first year has been really exciting but starting a business isn’t always easy. Don’t be too attached to your initial business idea – keep experimenting and be open to going with plan b or even plan c. You might think you have a great idea but you need to find ways to test it and you have to have the flexibility to change. I’d also advise people to be proactive in finding resources and reaching out to people for advice, especially other founders who have gone through the journey in a similar market.

Find more advice and support for startups in our Business Startups Toolkit.