RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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No. 7


George Imafidon

MEng Mechanical Engineering with Programming
University College London
Business and Academics

From bikes to cars to technology platforms, George - like all engineers - likes building things. George has fused his engineering talent with his entrepreneurial spirit and interest in personal development to create Motivez, an events app made for young people, by young people.

These three elements - engineering, entrepreneurship and self-improvement - are the product of George’s personal experiences. Born in Peckham, George grew up with his mother and older brother, Kenny. However, violence and deprivation in the area led George’s mother to move them out of south London. The brothers lived together until Kenny, 2014’s number one Rare Rising Star, was wrongfully charged with murder and was sent to a young offenders’ institution in 2012. In what was a “really difficult time” for the Imafidon family, George moved back to the family home in Peckham. During this time Geroge became acutely aware of his mother’s decision to move from Nigeria to the UK. The responsibility of realising his mother’s vision of a better life lay solely at his feet.

“You’re usually not the first to do a lot of things, but often it feels like you are, especially in our community.”

This pressure inspired George to start his first business. From the age of nine, George fixed bikes and motorcycles in his local area. Initially a hobby, George monetised this service which soon became the main source of income for his household. George’s interest in engineering continued in the classroom. He was in the top 1% in the country in GCSE Engineering and went on to achieve 3 As in STEM subjects at A Level. George, driven by the principle “be the change you want to see in the world,” defied the expectations of those in his community when he was awarded a place to study Mechanical Engineering with Programming at UCL. He was awarded four scholarships including a prestigious scholarship from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Consequently George helped to normalise success in academia among his peers, many of whom were unable to see the opportunities beyond Peckham.

George, deeply grateful for the support from these organisations, knew he wanted to share his knowledge with others. He co-founded the Aspire Education Group and works as a teaching assistant and mentor once a week at a local centre. As a youth leader in his church, George has also helped to build a school in Nigeria and is designing an entrepreneurship programme for students.

Despite the positive impact of his mentoring, George began to question how he could reach even more people. His experience running a business and his interest in technology led to the creation of Motivez, an app that lists a range of personal and professional development events. Though neither George nor his co-founder could code at the time, they raised £15,000 from private investors, family, friends and by working part-time. The app, which launched in March 2016 on the Apple App Store, provides young people with a tailored experience catering to their social life and career development. Over 2,000 people use the app and the team has grown to six people based across the country.

“Be the change you want to see in the world – I decided to lead the way through positivity and aspiration.”

Now in his second year, George has amassed a wealth of experience at EDF Energy, J.P. Morgan and several financial services firms. As Project Officer at Engineers Without Borders UK, George developed five international project teams working on initiatives such as a rainwater harvesting system in Mexico and designing low-cost latrines to improve sanitation in Mozambique. Simultaneously a founder and investor, George is also the Venture Capital Fund Director of UCL Entrepreneurs. He has raised over £10,000 of seed capital from leading venture capital firms which has helped to fund six startups. George will also be starting an internship in Civil Aerospace at Rolls Royce this summer.

As his experience demonstrates, George is far from a “conventional engineer”. Drawing upon his experiences and wide interests, George approaches problems in engineering and society from a unique perspective. In the future, George intends to found his own engineering consultancy and develop Motivez into the number one events platform for young people in the UK.

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