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Students learn how to start a business at the CityStarters Weekend

Budding student entrepreneurs learn new skills at a weekend-long event hosted at Cass

by Nicola Ranson (Communications Officer)

More than 120 aspiring student entrepreneurs have attended the CityStarters Weekend, a weekend-long event celebrating innovation and start-ups.

LonbrellaThe event was aimed at students interested in starting their own business, bringing together developers, designers, makers and start-up enthusiasts to share ideas, build their teams and increase their employability skills.

Over the course of the weekend, attendees had the chance to pitch their ideas and join up with others to work on and develop them further. Students received coaching from industry experts and learned about product development. The teams with the best ideas were awarded funding to help them progress them further. Speakers included Joysy John, former CIO of Ada; Daniel Benamran, former Head of Marketing at BlaBlaCar UK and Emma Zangs, Co-Founder of MetaSpeech.

At the end of the weekend, Wendi Lai (MSc in Entrepreneurship) and Rodrigo Camino (MSc in Entrepreneurship) were named the winners for Lonbrella, an umbrella rental service. They took home a prize fund of £3,000.Build-A-Bar

Wendy said the weekend was a great learning experience for her. “I really enjoyed meeting a diversity of mentors with different specialisations. It was my first time pitching and I gained valuable insight about how to engage the audience well.”

The second prize went to Marie Magnusson (MSc in Entrepreneurship) for her Build-a-Bar idea. Build-a-Bar is a new vending machine, which allows consumers to build their own healthy snack bar using a touch screen to choose the ingredients. She was awarded £2,000.

Dominic Baun (LLB) was named the third runner up for his job website idea, Jigsaw. The website allows employers to outline the shift times they require work for as part of the job advert. He won the £1,000 prize.

Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes organised the event. She said: “It was wonderful to welcome so many motivated and entrepreneurial students for our first start up competition of this new academic year. It was amazing to see students put themselves out of their comfort zones, eager to learn new skills and interact with other students and business mentors. I look forward to seeing how many of these business ideas will develop into successful companies.”

Students who attended the event said they found it a really worthwhile experience and really enjoyed the chance to meet mentors and investors. Simone Di Girolamo (MSc Project Management Finance and Risk) said: “This weekend was awesome, we got lots of helpful suggestions from real investors and it really helped me to understand how they think and what they’re interested in.”

The event, held at Cass Business School, was sponsored by Santander Universities and Shirlaws.

Chandresh Meghji, Deputy Relationship Director at Santander Universities said mentoring and judging at the CityStarters weekend was “wonderful.” He added:

At Santander our vision is to help people and businesses prosper and what better way to do this than helping the students prosper. I look forward to seeing their ideas and imagination grow and continue our support to Cass into the future.

Tracy Gravesande, Head of Product and Learning at Shirlaws described the weekend as “inspiring”, adding:

It was invigorating and exciting to meet with students who have ideas to address big market needs in such innovative ways.

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