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An entrepreneur was motivated to found a successful design studio after being frustrated in her search for a job because of her lack of work experience.

Kirsti-Lee Bushby received support from Teesside University to set up Segment Creative which has gone on to win several contracts with high-profile private, public and third-sector clients

Kirsti was inspired to set up the business after she thought there may be a market for her concept of hands-on tests to help diagnose the symptoms of dementia, which she conceived as part of her MA Future Design final-year project.

Since receiving the support from the Launchpad FUEL programme and a DigitalCity Fellowship, Kirsti has grown her business into a successful design studio based in Boho 5 in the heart of Middlesbrough’s digital and creative quarter.

Her clients include Redcar and Cleveland Council and North East Events, with work ranging from branding to designing magazines and books.

Kirsti, who also completed a BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Teesside University, is also in discussion with charities to explore the possibility of developing the prototype of her dementia test for use in a clinical setting.

Launchpad FUEL is an eight-week development programme for Teesside University graduates who are in the early stages of setting up a business.  It offers up to £19,000 of grant funding to help them develop their ideas.

DigitalCity Fellowships, which are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the University, offer entrepreneurs with innovative businesses up to £5,000 to support their business expenses during the initial development stage.

Kirsti said: “After graduating, I was struggling to find a job as a lot of companies said they really liked my portfolio but I didn’t have any experience.

“In the end I thought the best course of action would be to set up my own business.

“I pitched the idea for my dementia tests to the Launchpad FUEL programme and it all went on from there.

“I never really imagined myself setting up my own business but I’m really enjoying it. There’s always challenges but it’s great to be able to make your own decisions and be your own boss.

“The support I received from the University through the DigitalCity and Launchpad programme has been invaluable and really helped make the business a success.”

Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s business hub, said: “At Teesside University we strongly encourage our graduates to view entrepreneurship as a viable career path and so we are delighted to have been able to help Kirsti through our programmes of support.

“She is doing some really interesting and creative work and we look forward to seeing her business continue to thrive.”

Applications are being considered for the latest cohort of DigitalCity Fellowships. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 13 March. For more information email c.evans@tees.ac.uk.

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