(Written Friday, 18 January 2020)
I write from Gate 24 in Edinburgh International Airport awaiting a flight back to Belfast.
Today was quite a day. I woke up at 5:30am in an Edinburgh flat to leave for basketball practice with my former University of Edinburgh team, then afterwards headed straight from the gym with a few teammates to climb Arthur’s Seat (the gentle sloping cliff that rings one side of the city) to watch the sunrise from the top. We hiked back down to a favorite small cafe for breakfast, where I changed into business-casual and bused to a 10:30 appointment at a law firm for a short meeting to receive some business advice. I left from there to meet more teammates for lunch, then met a former professor for another chat. Then back from one end of the city towards the other again to sit for an hour in another favorite coffee shop where I was able to write some notes on previous meetings before being met by more teammates for one more catch-up before catching a benevolent friend and business advisor at his office for a final meeting before taking a bus from the city center to the airport.
Why in Edinburgh? Why all the meetings? Great questions. For the past year+, I’ve been working on a business start-up idea building an app that has evolved from personal fitness tracking to providing monitoring and evaluation tracking for sports organizations. I worked on this project in my spare time for the duration of my master’s program last year and have continued to explore what it could look like while living in Belfast. If you’re interested in more specifics you can always ring me and I’ll chat with you about it until you’re sorry you asked. I’m really passionate about what this idea could do for the sport industry here in the UK and beyond.
So why Edinburgh this week? The University of Edinburgh sponsors a small number of individuals every year to receive what’s called a Start Up visa. Essentially, if you’re an international student working on a business, you can present your business idea to the university for consideration. If they like it, they’ll sponsor your application for a 2-year visa to be able to stay in the country to continue its development. On Thursday afternoon, I presented Fathom (the name of my project) to a small panel. This morning, I received an email saying I had been approved.
So what does that mean? It means that rather than having to leave the UK in a month and a half when my student visa expires, I will be able to (assuming my visa application doesn’t get caught up in any brambles) secure a visa to stay here for two years to work on my business.
It’s welcome news — my overarching sentiment at the moment is affirmation and encouragement by the validation of being approved by my university for sponsorship. Of course, even while my dreams for the future feel bright and exciting and so much more possible now, so many unanswered questions still exist.
One primary set of questions is still for provision and being able to keep my accounts afloat while stepping into a volatile start-up existence in which there are no guarantees of paychecks and where I’ll have to do a whole lotta scrambling and pitching and vision-casting and fund-seeking to try and keep whatever this embryonic endeavor will ultimately become alive. But hey, settling for some kind of normal life direction at this point would have been a little bit anticlimactic anyway right? If this is the door God is opening, I’m interested to see what’s around the bend.
Thanks for reading and staying tuned to this crazy adventure as always. If you want to know more about what I’m up to, I’m just an email or call or carrier pigeon away. More soon,