Essex Startups Big Pitch: the results are in

07/10/2014, By Tom Gillman It was summertime when I last saw the Essex Startups’ ‘Big Pitch’ entrants at The University of Essex. Back in June, I spent a day providing mentoring advice to the students ahead of the teams refining their entrepreneurial ideas and creating a tangible business plan for the chance to win £3,000 towards turning paperwork and ideas into commercial reality.

By September, seven fledgling startup concepts had been distilled down to three determined teams with success in their sights. So it was with a sense of excitement that June’s mentors became judges to find a winner when we arrived in Colchester once again. Our three remaining contenders were:

Simple Is Beautiful – a team of four students who sought to upcycle used denim into designer accessories, including handbags and luggage. Sustainability, ethics and eco-friendly production was at the heart of the business with a global audience and an international manufacturing concept.

Light Gap Productions  - a duo with videography services aimed at SMEs hoping to find a competitively priced solution to create engaging video content to promote their businesses and generate interest.

Fused Roots – two men with a mission to create Afro-Caribbean fusion meals for hungry students with a passion for great food.

Three very different offerings to evaluate. As with most great business opportunities, it all culminated in a big pitch and a last chance to impress the judges and ‘sell’ the concept.

All teams put in strong performances on the day and it was evident just how much work had gone in over the Summer to create structured business plans and create shape around their ideas, including forecasts, schedules, marketing plans and objectives.

Each group faced a barrage of questions from the judges, exploring every aspect of their business plans and challenging anything which didn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Eventually an overall winner emerged and Fused Roots walked out with an oversized cheque for £3,000 for them to invest in progressing their catering business. Good luck chaps!

In an unexpected twist, an undisclosed runners-up prize was also awarded, much to the delight of videographers Light Gap Productions, which won £2,000.

Overall a great experience to be involved in and heartening to see Essex University Students turning their ideas into working businesses.

Thanks to our facilitator Christine Michaelis, Enterprise Officer and to my fellow judges.

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