Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Inspiring Enterprising Graduates

Graduate profiles

Claud Williams Video Interview
Year of Study

My company, The Creative Circle, supplies a range of creative services including photography, video production and graphic design.

What prompted you to set up on your own?

My school Work Experience taught me a very important lesson – I realised that I did not want to follow a conventional career path and end up in a mundane nine-to-five job.

My older sister inadvertently reinforced this decision by giving me a copy of Sir Richard Branson’s autobiography. I was completely inspired – I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

How did you get started?

I actually started my first business – Cosmic Sports – when I was 17. At the time, I thought of it more as a project and launched it on a budget of just £10 that I had saved from my lunch money!

I organised basketball tournaments for young people. My family and friends were very supportive and the company organised a successful series of events.

What happened to Cosmic Sports – did you disband it?

While I was studying for my degree, I launched Starlight Imagery – a media company providing photography and video services.

When I graduated, I took stock of where I was. I realised that I had to re-think my business model. Starlight was too dependent on me – I needed a bigger team than just me to achieve the level of success I wanted.

I found myself a business partner, Bola Awoniyi, and a studio in Loughborough – and Starlight re-emerged as Cosmic Inc.

Where is your company at now?

The University has been pivotal to my business development. As well as guidance and networking opportunities, the University helped me put together a successful application to Enterprise Inc which supports graduate start-ups with training, one-to-one advice and funding. The support I received really helped me to get going.

It has also helped me to develop the confidence to let my ideas evolve. Cosmic was doing well and Bola and I realised that we could expand, and broaden our business by finding other creative people to work with.

So, we decided to develop as a creative collective, working with freelance photographers and video artists. Our newly formed company, The Creative Circle, allows us to do this.

We have taken on two interns to manage our HR and marketing so that we can concentrate on developing the business and creative side of things alongside freelance photographers and video artists.

Business is good. Our portfolio is growing and the University is actually one of our biggest clients.

So, I was really delighted earlier this year to win the Graduate Enterprise category of the University’s Enterprise Awards and be named the
Think BIG! Champion.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Success is not inevitable – the question is how many times are you prepared to fail before you succeed?

How would you describe your Loughborough experience?

The first business I set up – aged 17 – was a sports company. Because Loughborough has the reputation of being one of the best sporting universities in the world, it seemed a good match so I decided to take a look.

After visiting the campus on an Open Day, I fell in love – and applied for my course, Sport Management.

I enjoyed the variety of my degree. The wide range of subjects – marketing, politics, economics and psychology – was really stimulating, inspiring me to develop new business ideas.

My degree choice has been key to helping me develop a much better understanding of the business world, and the factors that influence it. It also made me face crucial aspects of business which I previously avoided such as accounting – making me a better businessman.

I got involved with a lot activities outside my lectures which also helped me on my journey to entrepreneurship...

  • Joining the photography team of the student magazine, Label, helped me to develop as a photographer.
  • Being a member of my hall committee taught me how to network and make important contacts. Plus, the Chairman at the time had great leadership skills so I learnt a lot from them.
  • I was part of the team which created the Loughborough Entrepreneurs Society which helped me build great links with the University's Enterprise team who have been really helpful over the years.
  • As captain of the Loughborough Flux 500 business team for two years, I learnt how to develop and pitch an idea.
  • My term as President of the Loughborough African Caribbean Society was like running a medium-sized business, giving me the chance to develop and put into practice a lot of skills – leadership, teamwork, marketing, fund raising, customer service and innovating. The Society won two Students’ Union awards during my time in office – so I must have got something right!
  • I was a candidate in the Loughborough Student's Union executive elections which was a great opportunity to network and experiment with viral marketing.

Looking back, I’m amazed I found time to study and graduate!

I’m proud of what I achieved and receiving the Loughborough Experience Award in recognition of my contribution to student life was an amazing honour.

Loughborough truly is an amazing University with more opportunities than you will have time to take up – or even realise exist.

The key to success and enjoying your time here is – the more you give and put into it, the more you get out of your experience.

What happens in the classrooms is important, but it’s really only half of the story.