Enterprise success stories

Ned Aufenast

Edmund Aufenast established Whike UK before he came to the University of Exeter to study for an MEng in Mechanical Engineering, but as Ned outlines below the support on offer at the University has helped him to run the business more efficiently. Whike UK is the UK’s exclusive distributor of the Whike, a sail assisted tricycle and an extreme sports product. Ned enhanced his business’s presence at trade events and implemented improved business logistics with a student Start Up Award and support from the Exeter Innovation Centre. Funding for Student Start Up Award was provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). The award allowed Whike UK founder and University of Exeter student Ned Aufenast to purchase a new trailer to easily transport Whikes to events, fairs and demo days as well as deliver new whikes to their owners. He also invested in a range of marketing materials.

Most of the company’s marketing and sales are achieved by being present at large events. The grant award has enabled Ned to present a more professional image.

He said: “When I go to events it’s really clear I’m not just some guy with a bike, I now have a proper stand and business like presence, it’s much more professional than before.”

Other support included getting Ned involved in business networking events, the provision of hot desks and a free accounting workshop which helped ensure Whike UK’s books were in good order. Mentoring was also available through Business Support Manager Joe Pearce, who Ned said “gave helpful advice whenever he needed it, or pointed him in the best direction to find it”.

Ned also worked with Matthew Rusk, the Student Entrepreneur in Residence (a role filled by a successful student entrepreneur to support others), who told Ned about the awards.

To apply Ned had to make a presentation supported by a business summary document explaining how the award would benefit the company. Whike UK are now looking to further increase sales and build up the UK market to expand sail cycling as a sport.

You can see a Whike in action in the below video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72NI-P1zP1Y