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Swansea students aiming for global brand with Mr University

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Max Kalu and Sean Lee Rice were in the library last summer revising for their exam retakes when banter began about creating a fitness society and show exclusively for students. 

Six months later and the engineering and humanities students have become young entrepreneurs with their unique idea rocketing to success.

Launching on 16th March 2014 in Leicester, Mr University will see students from all around the country compete in physique and athletic rounds.

Max, a second year Politics student, explains the back story to the competition:

“The inspiration behind the idea of Mr University was to really celebrate fitness at university but on a nationwide level.

“We started the Muscle and Athletics Sports Society this year and we just began to think about how we could make it bigger and a huge thing.”

Alongside the competition, the students want to create an educational ethos about how a healthy and fit lifestyle can benefit a university experience.

“A lot of people come to university with no fitness goals or aspirations and they’ll try new sports and things that they didn’t have access to before.

“Having the solid routine around fitness such as going to the gym three times a week, and I’ve got a reason to eat healthily. We’re not saying to everyone, "get on the stage and compete."

“The whole ethos is going to be that you do as much as you want but do some fitness as you’ll find it’ll improve your life."

Next freshers’ fayre, the brand hopes to address the general issue of students gaining weight at university and how it can aid them through educational packs and advice.

Country-wide there are various competitions for academics and organised sports and the pair wanted to facilitate for those students that are also interested in fitness:

“There may be a rugby player who started lifting weights and there may be people from martial arts who are interested. It’s about bringing it all together.

“We want as many people studying different subjects from a variety of backgrounds to get involved,” says second year Civil Engineering student, Sean.

Behind Max and Sean there is David Bissnell, a graduate from Leicester University who founded the original MAS society at his university.

“We came up with the trademark for Mr University ourselves as we realised it was a good idea then we had David mention the idea of it after and it got quite
awkward!” explains Sean.

The pair took a sensible decision to partner with David and since, the success rates has soared through the roof.

At the age of 20, the students have already managed to get Microsoft to sponsor the Mr University event in March, allowing those at home to spectate the event online.

Students at Swansea and other institutions nationwide have been following the event:

“We’ve got a great following on social media. We broke 1,500 followers this morning and we’ve had loads of entrants. Every time we make an announcement about the judges, the interest just goes up.

“Former Miss Bikini Olypmia, which is the biggest deal in body building, Nathalia Melo, shared our Huffington Post article on Facebook so it’s mad how much feedback we’ve had,” says Max.

The pair are already looking ahead to future events and even taking the brand internationally, but neither of them saw this entrepreneurial adventure and career coming before university.

Max said: “There’s no way I saw this coming especially because I study Politics; do you know what I mean?

“Swansea Konetics Society have really helped out with the idea. We never imagined we’d have to run a brand at this age so we’ve had to pick it up as we go along.”

“We were included in Big Wales, which is an entrepreneurial scheme run by the Welsh Government. We went to a weekend retreat where they held workshops and talks for support about it,” explains Sean.

Most students can just about manage their course and socialising, but how do Max and Sean manage to maintain a business alongside this?

Max explains: “Juggling the balance whilst at university is hard. It’s a case of using your time effectively and we want to do it.”

“I’d happily do these things than sacrifice our business. After we graduate, we want to take this internationally and as soon as we get the opportunity, we will trademark abroad and take it to other countries,” says Sean.

To keep updated with Mr University, find them on Facebook or @Mr_UniversityUK.

Photo of David Bissnell (left) after winnng the Fit Factor show. 

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