Posted: Sun 23rd Jun 2024

Entrepreneurial University of Chester students and graduates share £7,000 of start-up funding

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Entrepreneurial students and graduates with growing enterprises in areas from music-based support and African fashion to game development have been awarded a share of £7,000 start-up funding thanks to the University of Chester’s Venture Programme.

The Venture Programme equips University of Chester students and graduates with the skills and knowledge to start a business or build on their freelance careers. Accessible to students from all disciplines and levels of study, Venture consists of a unique blend of content from industry partners to support people at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

A total of nine shortlisted students and graduates attended a two-day event in June aimed at supporting their ventures. This included the opportunity to pitch their proposals to a panel of judges for start-up funding and a range of business prizes.

Students and graduates who had been involved in the Venture Programme during the year have the opportunity to apply.

This year marked the involvement of more than 1,500 University of Chester students and graduates in enterprise activity and the creation of over 140 new businesses from the Venture Pitch.

Judged by Mike Skinner, RTC North; Hems de Winter, Hems de Winter Consulting; David Murphy, Forresters; Stephanie Taylor, StephiLou Photography; Helen Shanley, The Chester VA; and Kirsty Badrock, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at the University of Chester, participants were asked to deliver a five-minute pitch outlining their business idea and model.

Five businesses received a share of £5,000 funding, which was kindly awarded by Santander Universities UK. In addition, £2,000 in University of Chester Careers and Employability grants were shared between businesses, and more than £6,000 worth of further business support prizes were awarded during the event. The University’s Careers and Employability team would like to acknowledge the generous support and sponsorship offered by: Santander Universities UK; the University of Chester; Forresters IP; Hems de Winter; Chris Sharkey; Bec Bates; Mick Roberts; Chris Berry; and Lukas Works.

The successful pitchers were:

Melissa Knight, a Dyslexia and Research Practice postgraduate, who was awarded £1,750 from Santander for The Musician Clinician, a consultancy service providing music-based intervention, speech therapy, and dyslexia assessment to children and young people aged between seven and 18 with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Melissa was also awarded a £500 Careers and Employability Enterprise Grant and six months of one-to-one business mentoring with Chris Sharkey.

Meg Dempsey, a second-year Business Management student, was presented with £1,250 Santander funding for Dempsey Digital Marketing, a digital marketing start-up with the purpose of providing local businesses with tailored solutions to their marketing issues through consultancy, business audits, and analysis followed by implementation of strategies through social media management, content creation, and branding. Meg was also awarded six months of one-to-one marketing mentoring with Hems de Winter and a £500 Careers and Employability Enterprise Grant.

Daniel Gruffudd-Jones, a first-year Product Design student, was awarded £1,000 from Santander for Piano Play, an educational sensory shape sorter toy for children. Daniel was also awarded a £500 Careers and Employability Enterprise Grant, a professional logo designed by Lukas Works, and a 30-minute trademark consultancy with Forresters.

Helle Hammonds, a Psychology master’s student, received £500 Santander funding for Thrive Continuum, a supportive business offering targeted solutions to combat workplace stress and prevent burnout, using the latest research and insights from personal experiences. Helle was also awarded a two-hour trademark consultancy and £200 fees covered with Forresters, a professional photography shoot, and six months of mentoring with Chris Sharkey.

John Oji, a postgraduate International Business graduate, was presented with £500 from Santander and a professional logo for his business, Banknbook, a platform for small businesses to use hassle-free scheduling.

Ololade Adeniyi, a postgraduate International Business student, was awarded a social media coaching package, an Apple iPad, and a video production and video marketing package to take her African clothing business to the next level. Soorente seeks to bridge cultural gaps and embody the unbreakable spirit of African culture, bringing a youthful, balanced, and sophisticated flair to the fashion scene.

Jade Lambeth, a postgraduate Clinical Counselling student, was awarded a start-up website and a professional logo designed by Lukas Works for Mind Vista, a comprehensive therapy service, including innovative Virtual Reality (VR) to support the diverse needs of clients and personal development.

Thomas Woodthorpe, a Games Development student, was awarded a £500 Careers and Employability Enterprise Grant and a professional logo for Inverse Reality, a games development business focusing on delivering polished content to the Fortnite platform.

Sara Bauker, a Bioveterinary Science graduate, was awarded a professional logo and a start-up stationery package for Walsall Pet Services. The business offers mobile dog grooming, dog walking, and pet sitting services to those living in the Walsall area.

Daniel Gruffudd-Jones shared the impact of the Venture Programme and linked University initiatives: “Thank you for the Venture Pitch, Venture Programme, and Enterprise Development Programme; for all the great prizes, the new contacts, and the experience. It has been wonderful to be part of these initiatives and has truly made my summer.”

Amber Gaffoor, Entrepreneurship Co-ordinator within the University’s Careers and Employability team, said: “The Venture Pitch 2024 highlighted an incredible amount of entrepreneurial spirit across the University. Each and every individual showed true commitment, dedication, and passion in pursuing their business idea, and we are so excited to see where they take their businesses in the next few months and beyond.”

She added: “Thank you to our Venture partners and Santander Universities for your continued support.”

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