It’s the age-old problem. How do you get experience if you haven’t got experience?
George Biddle says it’s a situation that is preventing graduates landing their dream jobs and companies fixing their skills gap.
However a solution could be at hand in the form of his Leeds-based startup The Grad Soc.
“Trying to get any real experience is incredibly hard if you’re a student,” explains Biddle. “There are so many barriers to entry and catch 22s like not having enough experience in order to get experience.
”The situation creates so much stress and anxiety for students at a time of their lives when they’re already under a huge amount of stress and anxiety. I started picking apart that problem. That’s why I came up with the idea for The Grad Soc.”
The startup connects students and companies through internships.
Companies pay as little as £1,200 for an intern across two months or £3,000 for a group of four interns. In return The Grad Soc provides a month of work-readiness coaching before they start, all the training and management during the internship, and pays the interns £10 an hour from their fee.
Biddle takes inspiration from Euan Blair’s London-based apprenticeship startup Multiverse, which raised £95m last year.
“The news about Euan Blair and Multiverse was possibly my most exciting day that I’ve had because they are doing for apprenticeships what I’m trying to do for internships,” he explains.
The 28-year-old says his own experiences partly inspired the idea for the business.
“I was always quite ambitious and fairly switched on in terms of my career,” he says. “I initially wanted to get into investment banking and I got myself a year-long placement in Munich working for Goldman Sachs.
“It was while I was there I decided that if I was going to work 12-13-hour days I was going to do it for myself, not someone else.
“I came back after that year and started sending off a bunch of applications for internships, graduate schemes, anything really. And the whole process was awful.
“The skills gap is a result of years and years of these barriers to entry and it puts people off pursuing these harder careers, which is often where the skills gaps are.”
Biddle states that The Grad Soc wasn’t his first business idea.
“My original business idea was a lecture registration app,” he recalls. “Universities were still using paper registrations. It was ridiculous so I made an app.
“Then along came Covid so I had to pivot and launched The Grad Soc in December 2020.”
All the interns are trained by The Grad Soc and work remotely.
“From our initial market research everything came back to students wanting experience and the easiest way of doing that is through part-time, remote internships alongside their studies.
“I noticed that a lot of companies hadn’t even considered an internship so we’ve created a very efficient structure whereby we manage and train the interns – who work fully remotely towards agreed KPIs – and the company is properly incentivised through low costs, quality output and great CSR exposure.
“The companies get access to a full pool of talent right across the globe in the most cost effective way.
“It’s great for employers and excellent for students because they get the all important experience that they need with no barriers to applying, in a standardised structure that fully supports them.”
Thousands of university students have already signed up to the platform and The Grad Soc is working with a number of clients, including one who’s used their remote internships to expand into 14 states across the US.
“We’re targeting over 100 clients this year which will provide us with a great opportunity to continue developing our proprietary tech,” says Biddle.
“If 100 companies take an average of four interns that’s 400 internships that we would have literally created from nothing in a space that is crying out for students needing experience – and companies needing to attract fresh talent.
“Our main goal is to open up and redistribute opportunities for people from all backgrounds and with over 70% of our interns so far being female or from underrepresented groups, I’d say we’re right on track.”
- The Grad Soc’s George Biddle has been chosen as the latest winner of TechBlast’s Star of the Week. Every Friday it’s given to the entrepreneur or entrepreneurs who have most impressed TechBlast in the previous seven days. At the end of the year we’ll publish the full list of 50 names. To nominate someone email [email protected]