Business Start-Up Journey 2020 Winners Announced

A virtual pitching final saw four student start-ups share the prize money in this year’s Business Start-Up Journey.

Measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic meant the programme’s usual Dragons Den format had to switch to a virtual contest, with students pre-recording their pitches for submission to the judges.

The businesses were scored in categories including sustainability, scalability, innovation and financial viability.

From a strong field, the winners were:

  • John Arceno and Alan Gurung with YCampus – a way to bring empty high street shops back into use as multi-purpose hubs
  • Lewis Squire with Reality Room – using Augmented Reality (AR) to rethink Escape Rooms and bring education to life.

Lewis, a Stage 2 Kent Business School student from Canterbury, John, a final year Biology student, and Alan, in his final year studying Philosophy and Politics, will receive £1,000 per business towards their start-up costs.

Runners up were:

  • Phoebe Thompson with By Phoebe – a new product to keep false eyelashes dry in the shower
  • Molly Walsh with Ignite – a vegan-friendly and sustainable pre and post-workout drink.

Phoebe, a Stage 4 KBS Business and Management student from Medway campus, and Molly, a Stage 2 Sports Science student also from Medway, receive £500 each towards their start-up costs. Other businesses in the pitching finals included RR Collective, a sustainable fashion business upcycling Nigerian rubbish into jewellery and Talking Heads, a documentary film exploring ways to reunite a fragmented UK society.

Lewis said: The Business Start Up Journey has been an incredible experience allowing us to create and develop our business ideas. Through the help of the amazing mentors, program leaders and industry professionals, I have been able to build The Reality Room idea into something tangible. Thank you to all the judges for the feedback and opportunity to progress The Reality Room further! Now the next steps in developing the software and hardware in order to bring it to life!”

Judges included Daniel Rubin, founder of the international footwear brand, Dune London, Dean Johnson, Managing Director of international medi-tech company Haag Streit UK and Emay Enemokwu, a KBS graduate and Business Start-Up Journey finalist who founded the successful streetwear brand Jehu-cal.

The Business Start-Up Journey is supported by philanthropic donation including funding from Santander Universities. It is part of the University’s Study Plus programme and open to students from any subject or level of study.

The Business Start-Up Journey takes students through all the stages of setting up a business – from finding and testing an idea of building marketing plans and understanding financials. It offers a combination of exciting practical and interactive workshops and one-to-one support.

All of the finalists will continue to be supported by the ASPIRE (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise) which is the University’s flagship space for student business support and entrepreneurial skills development.

Those ways include:

  • One to one support from the ASPIRE team of entrepreneurs in residence
  • Access to mentors
  • Financial grants to support for attending relevant expos and conferences
  • Funding

Find out more about ASPIRE and register your interest in next year’s Business Start-Up Journey programme.

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