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BookBall crowned winner at CitySpark festive marketplace

Students have competed in the annual student enterprise competition for their chance to take home a share of the £4000 prize fund


Fifteen teams of budding student entrepreneurs have taken part in Book BallCitySpark, the University’s business idea competition. As part of the event, teams set up stalls where they pitched their business ideas to academics and representatives from the local start-up community. More than 150 guests gathered in CityBar to see the finalists and celebrate the creativity and innovation of the students taking part.

Organised as part of the CityStarters programme, the event aims to give students the chance to network and gain feedback on their business ideas, while competing for funding to progress their idea. From more than 50 entries, 15 of the best were selected by a panel of esteemed judges to participate in the finals. 

During the marketplace, around 40 judges, comprised of successful entrepreneurs, business owners and academics, voted for their favourite ideas after working their way round the various stalls. 

Students Stefan Metaxas and Henry Joliffe were crowned the winners with their BookBall business idea, an on demand sports facilities booking service. They were awarded the top prize of £1,000. Stefan said they came up with the idea after becoming frustrated with trying to book a football pitch in London. 

“Right now the booking process is like a game of batteships,” HoodiniStefan said. “You have to try to find a venue with pitches, call them to see when a pitch is available and then await responses from 10 different contacts before you can finally book it – and you still haven’t even paid. In this day and age, something as simple as booking a pitch should not be so difficult.” 

Stefan wanted to make this process simpler, so enlisted the help of Henry and got started on the idea of BookBall. 

“BookBall will allow someone to get online, find a sports venue around their area – it could be a football pitch, tennis court or any number of things – and book it instantly, paying through the website,” Stefan explains. “It is solving a problem that many Londoners face on a weekly basis. A problem that is preventing them from playing the sports they love.”

The most valuable thing about CitySpark, Stefan says, was getting feedback from the guests. 

The best part was hearing how excited other people were about the idea - they share the same pain as we do. Henry and I can’t wait to try and help them out with BookBall. 

Henry and Stefan are now working on a prototype ofEatSafe BookBall, refining their business model and preparing for the next stage of CitySpark.

Prizes were also awarded to two second place runners up, and three third place runners up. For the first time, a Green Award was also given for the most sustainable business idea. This went to Hoodini, set up by Umar Qamar to use leftover fabric to make hoodies.

The awards were handed out by Matt Barrie, CEO and Founder of, the world’s leading freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace with more than 17 million users. Matt is an award winning entrepreneur, technologist and lecturer, having won numerous awards, including being named the inaugural BRW Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011, and one of the 11 most influential Australians in IT by SmartCompany. 

Alex Elkins, Entrepreneurship Education Manager said: “The marketplace has been a true success, demonstrating the entrepreneurial talent we have at City. We welcomed over 150 people including staff, students and industry specialists to join us in celebrating and voting for the best new ventures.

“Inspired by our unique location, sandwiched between the City of London, Clerkenwell Design Quarter and Tech City, Enterprise Education is committed to inspiring, educating and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurial talent, and CitySpark this year clearly demonstrated that we have this in spades. I would like to thank all of this year’s finalists, as well as all of our judges for their time and expertise.”

The winners

First Prize 

Bookball: an on demand booking service for sports facilities idea created by Cass students Stefan Metaxas and Henry Joliffe.

CitySpark Green Award

Hoodini: an idea proposed by Umar Qamar to use leftover fabric to make hoodies.

Second Prize

Binta’s Kitchen: School of Health’s Farhana Ibrahim produces a delicious sauce with rich Nigerian flavours.

EatSafe: Matt Bland from Cass proposes an app and website that filters allergen data and provides allergy restricted menus for customers.

Third Prize

Monetize Fashion: A one-stop-shop for clothing designers by Mohamed Mahamed

LifeLine: Salman Peerally designed a wristband to detect irregular heartbeats in vulnerable patients and alert family members

Woof Woof, Walkies!: dog walkers taking the lead to combat social isolation by Andrew Stuck
The event was sponsored by the Cass Future Fund and the Sustainability team.


CityStarters is the home hub for students at City University London looking to kick-start their entrepreneurial talent.

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