Tom Charman - Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany

BSc Economics and Politics with European Study

During his year abroad in Munich, Tom took the opportunity to start up his own business, KOMPAS.

“The University of Exeter is ranked as one of the best universities in the country, and the Business School in particular invests in its students. What particularly appealed to me was the opportunity to study abroad and the freedom to explore modules outside of my degree title.

When organising my year abroad, I was given a huge amount of support that helped me analyse and choose the place best suited to me. I decided to spend the year in Munich, studying at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. This gave me the chance to learn a second language, immerse myself in a new culture and travel.

I also took the opportunity during my year abroad to create KOMPAS, a mobile application that uses artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning to generate travel recommendations and plans, according to each individual’s interests. I saw the lack of personalisation when exploring a new city, and used this to cofound the company with a fellow student, Olivia, before moving on to create the app.

My study abroad year has quite easily had the biggest impact on my life to date. It’s allowed me to travel around Europe, learn a new language, and make friends from all over the world. I became more confident, independent and adaptable. I’ve also had a huge number of opportunities presented to me since cofounding KOMPAS.

Olivia and I won the Third Year Abroad Entrepreneurial Award for the Best Startup Idea. I also made it through to the finals of the Future Business Leader Award at the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2016 and was selected to represent the UK at the world finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards 2016. Being selected for these awards has been both a huge confidence boost and a validation of KOMPAS. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet some of the most driven and exciting students from across the UK and Europe, as well as industry experts and leading businesspeople.

After graduating, I’ll be working full time on KOMPAS with my team, as we plan on raising a round of investment and building a user base all over the world. Because of my year abroad, I can now work in Germany and the UK, which is where our user base stems from. I’ve also learned fundamental skills, and connected with people who can provide a different perspective, to make sure that we can adapt to any necessary changes. I’m looking forward to the journey, and hope that KOMPAS will be recognised worldwide over the next 5 years. My long term goal is to find a sustainable way to give everyone an equal opportunity at life, so that each and every person has the same chance.

My advice to other students is, firstly, make the most of your year abroad. Take advantage of everything that’s given to you, and do things outside of your degree that help you understand it better. Make sure you’re doing what you enjoy, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you’re not sure about something.”