Student entrepreneur gets on his electric bike to woo commuters


He came up with the concept while studying for a master’s degree in Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London (UCL).

Mr Piatkowski has raised £180,000 from Crowdcube – a crowdfunding site based in Exeter that raises equity online for start-ups.

The Jive Bike – the first of its kind – is chainless and constructed from aluminium, propelled through enclosed drive shafts linked to pedals, instead of a chain.

It will roll off the production line next summer at an anticipated retail price of £1,500.

Targeted at commuters, the bike has an electric motor in the hub of the front wheel, which provides a top speed of 15.6mph when being used instead of pedal power, and has a range of 20 miles before needing recharging. It charges fully in just two hours, and folds down to the size of a small suitcase.

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Bags of style manage to give a Rae of hope to sore arms

Rae Jones

Not so long ago, the average woman was walking around with a handbag that weighed more than the average puppy. As smartphones replace laptops and Filofaxes the weight’s dropped a bit but the experience of dragging a hefty bag around town inspired a business idea for former fashion trend-spotter Rae Jones.

“I’d always had this idea in my head for a bag that could be used for any occasion that was practical, elegant, well-made and durable — that didn’t weigh a tonne before you put anything in and wasn’t overly branded or covered in blingy hardware — and no one was doing it,” Jones explains.

She was already running her own shoe business — named after herself — which she launched after a postgraduate course in footwear design at London’s Cordwainers College.

But Jones’ first Buckitt bag was designed last year — then she started crowd-funding for customers as well as backing.

“Since I’d already launched my women’s footwear brand, I knew what a slow process it is to build a fan base of customers, so I thought crowdfunding and social media would help.”

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Zoopla founder backs London student digs start-up


The founder of Zoopla knows a thing or two about property – and he thinks he’s spotted a winner with one London start-up hoping to revolutionise student accommodation.

Property website Zoopla, the UK’s second biggest, has quickly become a ‘must visit’ site for home buyers or sellers since launching in 2008. The site carries sale prices and value estimates for every single address in the UK.

Founder Alex Chesterman, who also co-founded LoveFilm, has now thrown his support behind another property website – UniPlaces.

The start-up acts like ‘AirBnB’ for student accommodation, allowing students to browse rental listings and acting as an intermediary for payments.

Launched in Lisbon last year, but now head quartered in Old Street, the site has over 6,000 properties in London and aims to be the first unified student housing search site.

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‘Pop-up shops can save the high street,’ says Boxpark entrepreneur


Roger Wade, the entrepreneur behind the Boxpark retail hub in Shoreditch, is spearheading a campaign to get more pop-up shops onto the UK’s high streets.

“I want government to help small independent shops by giving them small business rates relief for up to three months,” he explained. “This will encourage them to fill all these empty stores.”

There is, of course, an existing rates relief scheme already in place to help small businesses. But Mr Wade believes this initiative does not go nearly far enough.

“The existing rates relief system only applies to businesses in units where the rental value is less than £12,000 per annum,” argued Mr Wade. “You won’t find a single store in London for less than £12,000. We have some tiny units that are no more than 300 square feet at Boxpark and not one of those is worth less than that.”

As a landlord, Mr Wade has put his money where his mouth is to help pop-up shops get started. “I’m happy to give preferential prices or even free pop-up units for up to three months,” he said. “We’ve had more than 50 brands that have joined us on pop-up schemes which are sub rent.

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