A Caribbean-inspired clothing line, unique student magazines and a low-fat frozen dessert are just some of the student-led business ideas to be rewarded by Queen Mary, University of London this week.
The College has awarded a group of entrepreneurial undergraduate and postgraduate students a total of £16,500 to build their start-up businesses. Some of this year’s winners will also go forward to represent Queen Mary in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards to win cash prizes of up to £20,000.
Eleven student projects received Student Entrepreneurship Prizes of £1,500 from Queen Mary’s Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell, at a ceremony on Wednesday 25 March at Café World Marché on the Mile End campus.
QM Student Entrepreneurship Prize Fund awards are given to applicants who submit feasible and novel business plans that are most likely to be developed successfully.
Yasmin Desai, a first-year Economics student, says: “I have set up my own student magazine, The Student Directory, that is distributed to over 5,000 students in my hometown in Basingstoke. My future ambition is to widen the distribution of the business to surrounding areas in the county.”
Ashley Smith, in his second year studying Environmental Science with Business Management, also has big ambitions for his company, the Stag Musicians Agency: “We want to become the leading UK live entertainment company, at the same time as providing music experience for student musicians who are hoping to develop a career in the industry. In three years time we hope to have expanded internationally into Europe. Our ultimate goal is to be an event organising company.”
Adesua Obetoh and Torita Ann-Maria Aguba from the School of Business and Management will use their award to develop their own fashion line, taking the vibrant colors, patterns and prints which represent the Afro-Caribbean culture, and presenting them in a young, modern and high fashion way.
PhD candidate Toby Harris aims to produce and sell software and hardware for performances through his company, SparkLive. His business idea is based on his research work at QM.
"Being given this money now, up-front, has meant I'm on track to put a product where my mouth was,” Toby says. “I had a list of people wanting to buy something I had hacked together for my own use, but transforming that into a commercial product was proving a leap too far. With this award and technical mentorship from my department, I've been empowered to make that leap, and now have the prototypes to prove it."
Speaking after a recent meeting with Queen Mary students, academics and Santander’s CEO Ana Botin, QM’s Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell encouraged the College to help students engage in entrepreneurial activity, commenting that “it is important not only for their future, but for the future of the wider economy and society”.
The Student Entrepreneurs’ Showcase and Awards evening included a showcase of the student businesses, a presentation on the new student business accelerator suite in the School of Business and Management, and the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs over a buffet dinner. Two award winners from previous years, Sam Amrani and Ashley Smith, addressed the attendees.
This year's winners are:
Adesua Obetoh and Torita Aguba (Business and Management) - 'Adrita Vierra' clothing line
Babatunde Williams and Ollie Brown (History and Politics) - New Turn society magazine
Andrei Yermalovich (Law and Finance) - 'Imagine', creative website
Ashley Smith (Environmental Science and Business Management) - Stag Musicians Agency
Joseph Holland (Law) - 'Commercial Awareness' magazine
Thomas Voice (Geography and Business Management) - 'Yogi Ice', health frozen dessert
Oliver Brown (International Relations) - 'MinVids', educational website
Sanjay Shroff (Medicine) - 'Boost My Pharmacy'
Suzanne Westley (Medicine) - 'Toothloop.com', oral health website
Toby Harris (Media and Arts Technology) - 'Sparklive', audio-visual tool provider
Yasmin Desai (Economics, Finance and Management) - 'The Student Directory' magazine
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