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Student startups pitch their business ideas for share of £15,000 prize fund

Business experts and entrepreneurs have chosen the winners at the final of City’s business design competition

by Nicola Ranson

The winners of the second round of City University London’s enterprise and innovation competition have been selected at the CitySpark final. From more than 60 entries, the best 15 were selected to take part in the CitySpark marketplace, where the students and recent alumni hosted stalls promoting their concept to judges.

Made up of business experts, entrepreneurs, alumni and City staff, the panel of judges voted for the teams they felt had the most innovative, well-designed and sustainable business ideas. The five teams with the most votes each took home £3,000 and a place on the FastForward (FFWD) Accelerator programme. Designed by City University London and the Accelerator Academy, FWWD is an interactive six week programme that covers topics from technology and marketing to finance, with the help of industry experts and mentors.

CitySpark aims to help City students and recent graduates to understand the process of moving from an idea to a viable, scalable business venture. This year’s competition saw a record number of entries, with the number of applications more than double this time last year.

The winning ideas

CitySpark is a start dfQrown it by Olorunfemi Fagunwa and Kunmi Olatunji

The idea: An app connecting independent black hairdressers with clients in London

Olorunfemi said: “We came up with the idea because my friends and I routinely have problems finding a salon. The idea of connecting people technologically in this day and age seems like a rational solution to this problem.

“CitySpark helped us focus and it was great to speak to industry professionals at the final to get an external perspective on things we might have missed. Being announced as a winner was really motivating. Our next step is to make the prototype of an app with the help of the CitySpark prize money!”


CitySpark 2015 Plaque Checker by Hawaa Budraa

The idea: A quick and effective app-based plaque and gum checker

“The idea popped into my head when my sister was told to keep track of the health of her gums in order to have a brace fitted, but was finding it hard to monitor them when she was away from the dentist. 

"It is a fantastic feeling to see your hard work pay off. CitySpark has been great, providing me with mentoring and coaching that really helped me when pitching to the judges. Next I will be working on branding and developing my final idea to create the app.” 


CitySpark is a student enterprise competitionPeeps by Instetto by Christoffer Olsen and Daniel Infante

The idea: An app that lets people instantly share social and business contact details

Christoffer said: “The idea came from watching people clumsily trying to network, spelling their name letter by letter and at some points giving away their phone to make sure they had the details right. I thought there has to be a better way of exchanging details.

"It was absolutely magnificent when they announced I was a winner – I’ve probably never smiled that much before! I’m looking forward to attending the FFWD accelerator program in the summer so I can learn more about how to make Peeps a reality.”


BetU is a student start-up idea from City University LondonBet U by brothers George and Freddie Shelton

The idea: An interactive app that gamifies challenge based fundraising

“My brother and I came up with the idea whilst cycling from London to Gibralter. Thinking about the charity we were fundraising for was one of the things that kept us going but we were frustrated and surprised that there weren’t more ways to share what we were going through to make our fundraising efforts more interactive. After a particularly tough day we struck upon the idea to connect challengers and supporters with an app that makes fundraising more fun, exciting, immersive and effective.

"When it was announced that Bet U was a winner, we were gobsmacked! It was the most brilliant feeling to know that our idea had been validated by the judges, that all of our hard work and long hours had been worth it and that we would have the opportunity to develop Bet U further through the amazing resources and help of the CitySpark competition.

"CitySpark encapsulates the very best of what City has to offer ambitious young creatives. It is a truly unique competition which encourages students to dive into business head-first, and learn by doing. The marketplace final was an event buzzing with energy and a unique chance for budding entrepreneurs to not only win some funding, but to engage with thought leaders and industry professionals.”


Explain is a sudent start-up idea by City AlumnusExplaain by Jeremy Evans

The idea: Going behind the headlines with an interactive guide to current issues.

“I've worked in the journalism industry for a couple of years and gradually got more and more frustrated at the lack of innovation in how journalism is displayed to the audience. I also felt we weren't "teaching" as much as we should be, which means readers often feel overwhelmed with information that hasn't been explained. So I set out to solve it - hence Explaain.com!

"CitySpark forced me to think more about Explaain's viability as a business, and how to effectively communicate the message. I've also been based in CityStarter's The Hangout since December, which has been incredibly helpful!

"It was awesome when they announced I was a winner. It felt like a huge vindication of what I'm trying to achieve, and the money and pre-accelerator programme will be a huge help.”

Definition
CitySpark

CitySpark is a business design and doing competition that helps City University London students and recent alumni to develop a business idea, test it out with potential customers and then make it happen.

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