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Entrepreneur secured startup business funding with SimVenture Validate 

Discover how an Open University entrepreneurship competition helped ‘Beyond the Bathroom Scale’ founder, Karen Oliver, secure £2500 startup business funding from Santander Universities to develop her own business.

Recently, SimVenture had just released their 2022 Christmas Gift Guide which included a range of different entrepreneurs and business people associated with Universities across the UK. Amongst these entrepreneurs was Open University student Karen Oliver, founder of Beyond the Bathroom Scale – the award-winning coaching programme for intuitive eating and body acceptance.

In 2022, Karen had managed to secure £2500 startup business funding during an Open University student entrepreneurship competition using SimVenture Validate to help develop her business.

So, how did our online learning platform help to grow and expand a BSc student’s business?

Continue reading the following case study to find out more about Karen Oliver’s journey to further success and how she overcame the difficulties of writing a business plan.

Introducing Karen Oliver and Beyond the Bathroom Scale

Allow us to introduce Karen Oliver and the start-up she founded, Beyond the Bathroom Scale.

Karen Oliver, founder of Beyond the Bathroom Scale, who used SimVenture Validate to secure startup business funding

Karen is a former social worker based in the UK with experience in mental health, domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, and addiction.

Whilst studying as a part-time BSc Psychology student with the Open University, Karen is also currently retraining to become a psychotherapist, specialising in eating disorders and body image. Beyond the Bathroom Scale was launched in 2012, and has developed into an award-winning coaching programme by 2018 for intuitive eating and body acceptance. You can now find this coaching programme on the BeyondTheScale app.

Beyond the Bathroom Scale logo - the business that won the Open University entrepreneurship competition

The Open University Entrepreneurship Competition offering student startup business funding

During her second year on the BSc Psychology course with the Open University, Karen decided to enter the 2022 Open University Student Entrepreneurship Competition with the chance to secure startup business funding from Santander Universities.

Entrants of the startup competition were required to complete and present their business model canvas and business portfolio, created using SimVenture Validate, to a panel of judges. With only three months to complete her business model canvas and business portfolio, Karen worried that her lack of a business plan would hinder her entrepreneurial aspirations.

“I initially felt overwhelmed at the idea of submitting a business model canvas for the competition,” Karen explained, “However, as soon as I logged into SimVenture Validate, I realised that the tool would walk me through each step and break down specifically what needed to be included.”

The easy and supportive guidance of the platform allowed Karen to continue writing a business plan with new ideas such as new target markets she could approach, different audiences, and new revenue streams that could benefit her business.

SimVenture Validate – Straightforward and Uncomplicated

Before being introduced to SimVenture Validate, Karen was apprehensive about creating a business model canvas and business portfolio, let alone submitting an entry to the Open University entrepreneurship competition for the chance to win startup business funding.

However, the platform’s simple step-by-step guidance and straightforward interface allowed her to worry less and understand what direction she wanted her business to go in.

Karen explained, “The experience of using SimVenture Validate and working through each aspect of the business model canvas, helped me gain clarity around the direction I want to take my business in. This included ideas for scaling my app to offer organisational licenses.”

“SimVenture Validate is really straightforward to use.”

“After completing my business model canvas, I exported it to a PDF, printed it, and placed it in a portfolio to present when pitching.”

The SimVenture Validate business model canvas interface

Beyond the Bathroom Scale and the startup journey

Karen’s startup journey began with a health blog before the launch of Beyond the Bathroom Scale in 2012. Her experience and studies at Open University allowed her to venture forward and develop her business into an award-winning coaching programme.

Karen explains, “As I got deeper into my counselling training, and psychology degree, I began developing self-help resources and coaching courses to help with body image and disordered eating.”

“The coaching programme was developed with clients over the last five years.”

“By the end of 2021, the mobile app version of the programme went live on Google Play and Apple App Store.”

The Beyond the Bathroom Scale app that secured startup business funding

“Setting up a business is very time consuming and it was challenging to fit this around my former full-time job and training. Remaining organised was key.”

Karen’s determination to develop her business means that people now have access to:

  • Downloadable Therapy Workbooks
  • Their own Pocket Coaching App
  • Recommended Emergency Support
  • Recommended Books and Podcasts to Support Recovery
  • Informative and Helpful Blogs

You can find out more about Beyond the Bathroom Scale here.

Online learning platform helping entrepreneurs secure startup business funding

There is no easy way to start up and run a business. Entrepreneurs can be faced with many difficult decisions when starting a business and, as Karen found, it can also be very demanding. However, her experience with using SimVenture Validate helped overcome these challenges and secure startup business funding.

“After working through the business model canvas, I began to compartmentalise the different aspects of my business such as customer service, marketing, product development, finance, and legal, and sorted my digital business files and emails into separate folders.”

“When I scale and secure more people to oversee these different aspects, these will then become departments.”

“I’ve since secured £2500 worth of grants by using the business model canvas I created with SimVenture Validate.”

“I honestly don’t think I would have managed to secure these grants had I not had access to a straightforward tool for putting together a plan.”

The future of Beyond the Bathroom Scale

Karen explains that the next step for Beyond the Bathroom Scale is to market towards Universities.

“The mission now is to offer organisational licenses for this app to Universities to purchase as part of their pastoral support offering. This is so that their students can access the help they need at no cost to themselves.”

The future also expands beyond the app and website and looks towards more private and personalised support.

“Upon qualifying as a psychotherapist, I intend to set up a private clinic for eating disorder recovery.”

SimVenture Validate tips for securing startup business funding

Karen’s success with using the online learning platform has helped her develop and grow her business further. Having experienced the platform, she has a few tips to share with students using the platform for the first time.

Karen explains, “Lengthy business plans are becoming less commonplace. Instead, investors and funders like to see concise plans. A business model canvas is therefore an ideal format to use as it shows all the different parts of your business and how they work together on just one page.”

Based on Karen’s experience with the platform, she encourages entrepreneurs to use SimVenture Validate.

“SimVenture Validate will let you expand on each section, and you can include these in a portfolio. But lead with the one-page canvas alongside a short ‘elevator’ pitch.”

Developing your business skills with SimVenture Validate

Entrepreneurs are not the only people who can benefit from this educational platform. We also wanted to get Karen’s recommendations for people wanting to develop their business skills.

“I think owners of both startups and businesses looking to scale would benefit from taking some time away from the day-to-day running of their business.”

Karen specifically states to, “Work through the SimVenture Validate tool, analyse each aspect or department of your business, and plan your next move.”

Thank you to Karen Oliver for sharing your startup journey and online learning platform experience with us. We can’t wait to see what more Beyond the Bathroom Scale has to offer!

You can follow Karen’s journey with Beyond the Bathroom Scale on her Instagram or Facebook.

We hope this blog has helped and inspired you in your own entrepreneurship journey. We also hope that Karen’s tips and experience with SimVenture Validate has helped and shown you the impact it can have within the real world.

If you would like to find out more about SimVenture Validate, request your free online demo from our team today. We look forward to working with you.