Entrepreneurial Students and Pupils Pitch Ideas to Business Experts

Entrepreneurial students had the chance to pitch their ideas to business industry experts in a competition at the University of Worcester.

The Great Business Idea Competition, which operated a similar format to the BBC programme Dragons’ Den, saw them presenting in front of a panel of local business professionals and entrepreneurs, who then scrutinised their business model.

The event was a collaboration between the University of Worcester’s Business School, and Katy Rees, owner of Smile Education; a local education recruitment company, and the event’s lead sponsor.

Students presenting were shortlisted from an initial 30 entries. They included University of Worcester Business students, Tamathli Legiers, Christopher Lopez, Lavinia Ostate, and Marcus Strand. Ideas ranged from creative inflatable furniture to a tourism app to a platform providing resources for entrepreneurs. A team from local school RGS Worcester also spoke on their idea for a pet care app. 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 Nick Baxter, who founded recruitment consultancy Baxter Williams, Nicky Matthews, who founded Worcester-based beauty brand Sienna X, Dr Adrian Burden, of Malvern-based Wyche Innovation Centre and Key IQ, and Sharon Davies, who founded life coaching and anxiety management consultancy, Create Yourself Anew. Also on the panel was University of Worcester Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship graduate, Rowena Simmons, who runs her own online jewellery and accessories business, Franco Florenzi.

The Dragons chose Joshua Callis, 22, a third year studying Computer Science, as their winner for his intelligent retailing platform idea. He said: “The pitching experience and the detailed questions from the Dragons, has definitely given me more confidence with pitching and I am now looking to pitch for a seven figure seed investment, once I've completed my studies, as a result of the whole experience."

Entrant Lavinia, 22, said: “It was good because it gave us the opportunity to have contact with people in business and the experience of talking in front of people and feeling comfortable. This has given me more confidence and I found the feedback very useful.”

Panellist Dr Burden said: “This was a great opportunity for the students to succinctly pitch their business idea in front of a live audience and then to receive some constructive feedback. 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 first year we have run this competition and are already looking to grow this exciting event for next year. The University of Worcester believes that, by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking amongst our students, we are actively supporting and enhancing their career prospects after graduation, whether it be starting a business for themselves or simply being more equipped with the right skills in the ever-changing workplace environment.

“Finally, I would like to thank our local business sponsors who provided the prizes for this event Smile Education, Kendall Wadley accountants and Franco Florenzi.”