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Campus Life Series: Graduate Success

Entrepreneurs shine online at CitySpark

City’s brightest student and graduate entrepreneurs competed for cash prizes at the first ever online CitySpark competition

by Matthew Little (Communications Officer)

With £25k to be won between five prizes, 10 finalists virtually pitched their businesses to an online audience and judging panel.
CitySpark is a business idea and venture creation competition run by the CityVentures Team, which helps students and recent graduates to develop a business idea, test it with potential customers and then make it happen.

The judging panel consisted of Gynelle Leon, Founder of London’s first and only cacti and succulent boutique, PRICK; June O’Sullivan MBE, CEO of the London Early Years Foundation; and Paul Beach, Director of Private Banking and Head of Executives and Entrepreneurs at Arbuthnot Latham.

CItySpark 2020 online This year was all about the pitches, and each finalist submitted a five-minute video explaining their business and plans for the future. 

At the online event, finalists were given one minute to further unpack their business before they were quizzed by the judges.

The panel decided four of the winners, however The People’s Champion award was decided by the audience who voted for their favourite pitch.

Pouring the perfect pint and helping international students

Winning with a whopping 3,600 votes, the People’s Choice Award went to Nick Harkin (Exec MBA) of Mash Paddle Brewery, London’s only incubator for start-up brewers.

In his online pitch, Nick said: “At Mash Paddle Brewery, we take care of the equipment, marketing and packaging logistics associated with brewing, allowing our members to concentrate on what matters – brewing great beer.

“Our incubator programme allows aspiring businesses to brew at commercial volumes without having to secure commercial premises – with packaging, distribution and tax advice integrated into the programme.”

One of the CitySpark winners was ISH Connect, a concierge service designed for international students acclimatising in a new city.

Speaking at the event was co-founder Shamilah Nyiramukwaya (MSc Health Policy), who said: “When we did our research, we found that the two main problems faced by international students were loneliness and feeling so far away from home, which can both lead to mental health problems.

“Going forward, we want to partner with as many services as we can to help simplify the process of moving to another country.

“Our goal is to help connect people with all the details on where they want to live, how to set up a bank account, where they will shop, where they will eat, how they can make friends and more.”


Rewatch all the of the five-minute pitches here.

If you or your students are interested in starting a business or gaining the skills to develop an entrepreneurial mindset then please contact the CityVentures team at www.city.ac.uk/cityventures.

Full winners:

  • GreenSpark winner: Ben McMenamin (MSc Food Policy) of WeEatLocal
  • MakerSpark winner: Gordon Tveito-Duncan (MSc Data Science) of WealthAware
  • CitySpark winner: Joel Satchi (Exec MBA) of EMenuNow
  • CitySpark winner: Shamilah Nyramukwaya (MSc Health Policy) and Elma Jane Lamba of ISH Connect
  • People’s Choice winner: Nick Harkin (Exec MBA 2019) of Mash Paddle Brewery
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