Ellis & Co sit on judging panel at Venture Programme

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Entrepreneurial students and graduates from the University of Chester have been successful in securing start-up funding to set up in business, courtesy of Santander Universities UK, as part of the University’s Venture Programme.

The Venture Programme equips students and graduates with the skills and knowledge to start up a business or build their freelance career.

It is comprised of nine modules which cover different aspects of starting up a business.

These are setting up, sales and marketing, business responsibility, finance and funding, enterprise skills, business planning, legal matters, online marketing and 1-to-1 business advice surgeries. 

Accessible to students from all disciplines and levels of study, Venture consists of a unique blend of content from industry partners to support individuals at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey. 

Venture offers different interventions, from 1-to-1 tailored advice to interactive group activity through a series of 53 events delivered throughout the academic year.

Students and graduates who had been involved in the Venture Programme over the year had the opportunity to apply for The Venture Pitch 2020, with the aim of winning start-up funding, courtesy of Santander Universities UK.

Following a competitive application process, nine businesses were shortlisted to pitch. Shortlisted candidates attended a full day of workshops, around the theme ‘Your First Year in Business’, followed by the pitch day itself.

Judged by Leon Stowell, Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers; Mike Skinner, RTC North; Robert Simmonds, Santander Universities UK; Andrew Davey, INDUSTRY Chester Coworking; Hems de Winter, Hems de Winter Consulting and Louise Hope, motivational speaker, and Jennifer Kennedy, Membership Director of the North Wales and West Cheshire Chamber of Commerce, participants were asked to deliver a five minute pitch outlining their business idea and model.

Following their pitches, six businesses were awarded a share of £5,900 start-up funding through the Excellence in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Scholarship.

Various other business support prizes were also awarded during the event and we would like to acknowledge the kind support and sponsorship offered by INDUSTRY Coworking, Forresters IP and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce.

Kirsty Badrock, Venture Programme Co-ordinator within the Careers and Employability – Student Futures team, said: “The team at Ellis & Co. Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors have supported the Venture Programme at the University of Chester for a number of years, helping to prepare aspiring student entrepreneurs to launch their business and to introduce important considerations around tax, bookkeeping and accounts.

“We value our partnership and we are tremendously grateful to Leon for dedicating his time and expertise to judge this year’s student business ideas!”

The following people/businesses were successful with their pitches:

  • Rachel Sinden, a Creative Practices in Education graduate, was awarded £2,500 for Play Pizzazz whose vision is to provide training, consultations support and arts-based activities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children across the UK in both schools and in the home. Rachel was also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce.
  • Amber Gaffoor, an English Literature and Education Studies graduate, was awarded £1,000 for Destiny Dice; a small business that specialises in creating customised dice for gamers in the UK. Amber was also awarded a start-up website, 1-to-1 business coaching and a professional logo design.
  • Franceska Shollo, who is studying a Masters in Digital Marketing, was awarded £300 for Standout; a company which aims to bring social media e-campaigns to life by developing basic camera effect filters, interactive filters and games across social media. Fran was also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and desk space within INDUSTRY Coworking.
  • Jacob Trainer, a final year Law student, was awarded £600 for Jake Eats; a platform which brings together content and information for students, relating to all areas of student life. Jacob was also awarded an iPad through the Forresters Award.
  • Thomas Johnstone, a second year Psychology and Sports and Exercise Science student, was awarded £1,200 for Eat Good at Tommy’s; a food stall which combines the love of food and travel. Thomas was also awarded 1-to-1 Marketing Consultancy, a professional logo design, a branded merchandise bundle and a professional photography package.
  • Cherry Baguneid and colleagues from Mind Audit Ltd., who are all studying Masters in Clinical Counselling, were awarded £300 for 1-to-1 business coaching to help the development of their North West based start-up company which addresses the specific mental health needs and challenges faced by both individuals and organisations. They were also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and a professional logo design.

The following awards were also made:

  • Cheryl Sorensen, Conor Dangerfield and Jack Higgins, who are studying at the Chester Business School, were awarded 1-to-1 business coaching for Event Meet, which helps small event organizers by providing a website to connect, engage and expand their following and community and provides a digital platform for event attendees to engage with a community of other event enthusiasts.
  • Shelly Gathigia, who is studying a Masters in Family and Child Psychology, was awarded a professional logo design and social media support package for Research Den, a company which seeks to solve the problem of sourcing adequate, reliable and suitable research participants and delivering them the researcher on request.