The Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Metropolitan University has invested £8000 in eight new start-up businesses following its recent Countdown to Launch programme. The prize fund has been sponsored by Santander Universities.
Countdown to Launch ran from June 5th to 9th and saw 22 budding entrepreneurs developing their business ideas through a series of interactive workshops and guest talks. The Centre for Entrepreneurship is Cardiff Met’s dedicated department for supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship in students and graduates. The Centre is part-funded by Welsh Government under the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy.
During the five day programme participants learned about marketing, intellectual property, financial planning, supply chain management and business modelling. The programme was delivered by the experienced team at the Centre for Entrepreneurship with support from academic and industry experts as well as peer-to-peer support from recent graduate entrepreneurs.
The week kicked off with an inspirational keynote from former Wales international rugby union player Richard Parks. Richard told of his incredible journey into extreme endurance sports following an injury which forced early retirement from rugby. His talk focused on the importance of perseverance, support networks and determination, highlighting several parallels with the world of business start-up. The talk was followed by an interactive workshop in which participants explored potential business opportunities based on the information in Richard’s talk.
On the final day of the programme, participants were given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs and business professionals for a share of the prize fund. The panel consisted of: Santander’s Business Relationship Manager James Watson, lifestyle and interiors journalist and entrepreneur Nicola Wilkes and Lee Sharma, Chief Executive of EdTech and training company Simply Do.
James Watson commented:
“Without doubt, the Countdown to Launch event is one of the highlights of my year. Not only do I get to listen to the hopes & dreams of our next-generation entrepreneurs, myself and Santander also have the chance to help them on their way with seed-funding awards and mentoring sessions. This can make all the difference to the future plans of the students and strengthens our long-standing relationship with Cardiff Metropolitan University.”
The start-ups that have been supported are: jewellery designer and maker Rhian Morris, fine artist Molly Lewis, co-founder of Archer Sports Management Ben Hofmeister, event and nightlife photographer Katerina Hristova, Lloyd Rayer (founder of children sports coaching company), lighting and furniture designer and maker Evan Moore, Louie Sims (founder of sports performance company) and David Barton who has designed an insole product that can help prevent and care for foot lesions in diabetic patients.
MSc Strength and Conditioning graduate Louie Sims commented:
“Countdown to launch was a great experience. I learned more about business in a week than I ever knew before. Not only will the prize fund help me to build my business, but I have also been able to meet a lot of great contacts I can call on in the future.”
A selection of participants in Countdown to Launch have also been invited to join the Centre’s accelerator programme which will begin in July. The six month programme will guide entrepreneurs along their start-up journey providing specialist support and access to the Centre’s start-up incubator, a co-working space located alongside the Centre’s office at Llandaff.
The Centre’s Business Start-up Manager Dewi Gray commented:
“We were delighted with the quality of businesses that took part in Countdown to Launch this year. The eight entrepreneurs to have received funding were particularly impressive and the money will help to take their businesses to the next level. However there were plenty of talented entrepreneurs who did not receive funding but will continue to receive support from the Centre, many of whom have been invited to join our accelerator programme starting in July. The next academic year is gearing up to be our most exciting yet.”