Safia remembers how much she loved reading and writing as a child but felt that, with the onslaught of modern technology, children these days were less likely to engage with these activities.
By combining reading and writing with technology, she hopes to encourage more children to develop a love of reading, writing and storytelling.
Imagine Forest is a website where children can create their own story book online. They can earn points by playing games and completing quests, and use these points to upgrade their avatars.
Since launching the site, she has already been shortlisted for the Santander 60 Second Pitch Awards and has received support from the University’s BSEEN programme.
The BSEEN initiative, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund supports students to turn their enterprising ideas into reality. It offers successful students (up to 5 years post-graduation) business grants, tailored mentoring and free work space, as well as a variety of workshops.
After applying to BSEEN, Safia had to give a presentation to judges about her business idea, and was delighted to be accepted onto the programme.
After a week’s training in June which covered a range of topics including digital marketing, Safia was given six months’ free office space and a business mentor, who she says has so far been hugely supportive in setting up the business and in promoting the product.
Safia said: “I'm so much more motivated since I joined the programme. The positive feedback I received from the judging panel and from my mentor has given me the confidence that Imagine Forest can work, and the determination to make it happen.”
Talking about how her degree prepared her for entrepreneurship, she said: “Aston is a fantastic university for any student interested in setting up a business. There are loads of relevant student societies and there's always the encouragement to just get out and do it. BSEEN workshops really help with giving you the confidence and skills you need too.”
Even with all her new-found confidence though, Safia was still very surprised to be shortlisted as a finalist in the Santander 60 Second Pitch Awards. The prize on offer is a cash prize of up to £1,500, as well as advice and support from Santander.
Safia knows that the publicity and awareness gained from winning the competition would give the Imagine Forest brand the publicity it needs to really take off. If she were to win, she hopes to spend some of the money on marketing, especially online advertising, to grow awareness of the brand even further.
Imagine Forest has gained over 400 votes in the competition so far but is currently in third position with voting open until Friday 28 August.
Safia's ultimate aim is to help motivate thousands of children worldwide to see reading and writing as a cool activity to engage in, and make Imagine Forest the market leading website in the children’s market endorsed by parents, educators, authors and bloggers globally.