University Dragons’ Den Style Event Sees Students and Public Pitch Business Ideas

Dragons Den panel web

The Great Business Idea Competition, which operated a similar format to the popular BBC programme, saw students and the wider business community in Worcestershire in front of a panel of local business professionals and entrepreneurs. 

They explained their plans or idea to a panel of local entrepreneurs, who then scrutinised their business model.

The event, at The Hive, was a collaboration between the University of Worcester's Business School and the competition’s corporate sponsor Wynne Jones IP.

Students presenting were shortlisted from over 30 entries. Finalists included University of Worcester students, Kelley Akers, Harry Lonsdale, Imogen Mornement and Nikolay Tsvetkov.  Ideas ranged from an innovative sports retailing business to a handmade lingerie e-commerce business.  The business experts questioned each presenter on key areas of their business idea, such as the finances, marketing and sales, and offered constructive feedback.

The panel of local entrepreneurs, who gave up their time to be part of the event, included Steve Randall, founder of recruitment specialist T2M Resourcing, Dr John Park, a serial Entrepreneur in the Education sector, Dr Adrian Burden, of Malvern-based Wyche Innovation Centre and Key IQ, and Katy Rees, founder of highly successful Midlands-based Smile Education.

The Dragons chose Anita Hill, the owner of recent start up business Comfyse, as their winner.

She has benefitted from the University’s own business start-up programme for budding entrepreneurs and follow on support from a Natwest business accelerator programme.

Anita said: "Attending and winning the pitch competition was a wonderful opportunity for my new business, to reach a new audience.  By presenting for the first time to the wider community, it has personally given me the confidence to speak in public again, so that I may share my story with others.  I'd definitely recommend pitching to anyone wanting to share what they do with others."

Kelley Akers, 24, an arts student at the University and third prize winner, said: “This event helped me to understand that my idea for a small business had actual potential.  Beyond that, it helped me formulate a business plan and grow the confidence to take that plan and go forward with a project that otherwise may not have been anything more than a concept.” 

Panellist Dr Burden said: "This was a great opportunity for the students to succinctly pitch their business idea.  The presentations were all of a high quality and delivered with real enthusiasm, so I hope some of the entrepreneurs will now take their plans forward and make successes of their proposed ventures."

Nick Bancroft, Enterprise Manager at the Business School, said: "This is the second year we have run this competition and it goes from strength to strength.  This year we felt it was important to open the competition up to the start-up community in Worcestershire and demonstrate the University’s role in the wider community. Events like these are really important in stimulating opportunity and economic growth in the local economy. We really hope the follow on support on offer to the finalists will enable their business ideas to flourish and do just this.”

He also thanked sponsors, which also included Barclays, Kendall Wadley, Franco Florenzi, Smile Education and Key IQ.

Picture credit: Oscar Capdevila-Sole