Birmingham City University (BCU) student Laurentiu Nae dreamt of one day developing a business with the help of the University’s STEAMhouse collaborative space. Now, he’s not only done just that – with his own firm specialising in blockchain – he is also hiring BCU students and graduates to grow his business.
Posted 14 September 2022
Building confidence with expert help
Laurentiu has had a long history with BCU, joining the institution to study a part-time course after the University was recommended to him by friends.
Now studying a HNC Construction course, Laurentiu is really enjoying his time with the University.
“The lecturers are knowledgeable and are experts in their fields,” he says. “There are great places to study and to learn, and the BCU library provides me with all the material I need to progress with my studies.”
Laurentiu first became interested in the field of blockchain – a distributed database or ledger that is shared among the nodes of a computer network – in 2013 but didn’t become fully immersed until eight years later.
After experiencing success working with a developer, Laurentiu began to build the confidence needed to start his own business.
Just three months later, Blockchain Advisors Ltd was born.
“We are a tech firm specialising in business’ digital transformations, helping them reduce operational and administrative costs using innovative technology,” Laurentiu explains.
“We offer a range of products and services, and work with financial institutions and multinational management consultancies.
"We use blockchain technology to reduce our client’s operational and administrative costs and offer innovative ways to improve their businesses.
"Thanks to a new feature called SmartContract, we develop cutting-edge applications to facilitate secure information exchanges among geographically dispersed stakeholders such as global trade logistics companies, transportation management, procurement, tracking and tracing shipments, and trade finance.
"We are working closely with metaverse developments and NFT integrators to achieve a new standard in digital ownership."
Vital support on the business journey
Being a BCU student, Laurentiu has seen BCU’s STEAM offer grow from the very start and dreamed that he would one day start a business within STEAMhouse, the University’s maker space and innovation facility.
Once STEAMhouse Business Incubator – a hub for startups offering desk and meeting space, access to funding and key support – launched, Laurentiu and the team have never looked back.
“Being part of the Incubator, and the STEAMhouse community in general, has had a positive impact on our business,” he explains.
“Not only have we been able to focus on our launch, but we have also been able to learn thanks to the business workshops provided by STEAMhouse.”
Within the first two months of being in STEAMhouse Business Incubator, Blockchain Advisors successfully launched a new platform for their first client.
Laurentiu also credits STEAMhouse with helping Blockchain Advisors to build relationships.
“We have made connections with other business owners within the community and had access to mentors from marketing, SEO, finance and other important areas of business. All of this has helped us in our journey.”
Positive contribution from BCU students and graduates
Blockchain Advisors are not only utilising BCU’s services. They have also hired a BCU graduate and PhD student, respectively, to help them progress.
When it came to recruiting talented individuals, Laurentiu and the company sought help from the University’s Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) programme.
HLSM – part-funded by the European Social Fund – is an account-managed recruitment and upskilling service that helps businesses in the region build their skills and knowledge, as well as access new talent.
“We were looking to reach out to as many skilled and knowledgeable candidates as possible, especially BCU students and graduates,” Laurentiu explains.
“We worked with HLSM both during the recruitment process and they supported us with the recruitment questionnaire and what to consider when interviewing graduates.”
Thanks to HLSM’s support, Laurentiu and the team gained more insight into what to expect during and after the recruitment of personnel, as well as the best ways to support their growth and help get the best out of them at work.
As a BCU student, Laurentiu is pleased that he is helping his fellow students and alumni by giving them employment opportunities.
“It is quite important for us to give back as we feel we have received massive support from the University,” he says. “We will be seeking more graduates as the company looks to expand.”
For now, though, Blockchain Advisors couldn’t be happier with the positive contribution the two new recruits are making.
“They’ve learned a completely new software programming language in just a few weeks, as well as redesigning, developing and implementing our website using newly learnt technologies,” Laurentiu enthuses.
“Their can-do attitude is top notch.”