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University of Chester students emerge from Dragon's Den-style event to set up their own businesses

Students granted funding after success in The Pitch 2017

Students Toshaan Malik, Jordan Tew, Jessica Saunders, Andrew Davey, Jennifer Bakkali, Michelle Parkinson and Ryan Holland celebrate their success alongside judges John Moorhouse, Emma Woollard, Jo Forsyth and Danielle Houston(Image: UGC)

Entrepreneurial students and graduates from the University of Chester have been successful in securing start-up funding to set up their own businesses after taking part in a Dragon’s Den-style event called The Pitch 2017.

The Pitch is part of the Accelerate event, which forms part of the university’s Venture programme.

Venture is part of the consortium-led Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme Project which, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), equips students and graduates with the skills and knowledge to start up a business and develop their entrepreneurial capacity.

Applicants were asked to submit a 500 word business summary and to create a 60 second video pitch.

The submissions were judged internally, to provide a shortlist of eight businesses.

Shortlisted participants were then invited to bid for start-up funding and a number of business support prizes.

The pitches were judged by John Moorhouse of Ellis and Co; Emma Woollard, The Language Guys; Danielle Houston, Santander; and Jo Forsyth, careers and employability at the University of Chester.

Participants were asked to deliver a five minute pitch outlining their business idea and model.

Following the pitches, four businesses were successful in receiving cash funding, courtesy of Santander Universities UK.

Andrew Davey, from Chester, who completed his Masters in design this year, was awarded £1,000 for Gro Space.

The social enterprise will offer co-working space in Chester to provide a bridge for start-ups, particularly the visual arts, to realise their dream of working for themselves.

Ryan Holland, from Colwyn Bay, a final year fine art and graphic design student, was awarded £1,000 for Hoz Designs offering bespoke packages to small businesses, to create promotional videos they can use on their online spaces.

Michelle Parkinson, from Chester, a second year English literature student, was awarded £500 to launch The Speak Easy; by night, a monthly event of literature and entertainment; by day, a community service offering workshops and courses designed to support well-being.

Jordan Tew, from Chester, and Jessica Saunders, from Warrington, a first year global entrepreneurship and business management student and a first year health and social care student respectively, were awarded £2,500 for Stu’s Deals.

The Stu’s Deals app will enable students to find local deals and events relating to their interests within their city, specifically working alongside local businesses.

The judges also awarded two iPads, a start-up website, a total of £1,000 in careers and employability enterprise grants, a professional photography package, a full day one-to-one social media diagnostic and a number of one-to-one intensive business coaching sessions.

Pitchers were all offered a professional logo design and a Business Hacks book.

Venture programme co-ordinator Kirsty Badrock said: “Accelerate showcased a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial spirit and talent. The dedication and enthusiasm of those who took part was evident and the innovative business ideas sparked real interest with the judges who saw potential in everyone. We are incredibly grateful to all of our partners who have contributed to this comprehensive programme of support.”

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