Success for student start-ups - Business Works
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Success for student start-ups

Mark Hanington, Managing Director, FIG
The winners and runners-up (left-right) PetShopBowl, LIC, The Tab
The winners of the nationwide university business plan competition have just been announced. The competition, RBS EnterprisingU, was run by Find Invest Grow (FIG) in collaboration with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the competition was open to students and graduates of the past five years.

More than 2200 entries were received since launching in September and a shortlist of seven innovative ideas was picked to present to a panel of judges that included business luminaries such as Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, Karen Hanton, founder of Toptable and Peter Ibbetson, RBS Small Business Chairman. The application process and judging criteria were focussed on ensuring businesses and their founders have investible propositions, meaning that the competition was centred on discovering the business success stories of tomorrow.

At the final, each company had just ten minutes to present their idea, as well as answer probing questions from the panel in front of an audience of around 150 early stage investors and members of the press.

"We were overwhelmed by the standard of entries this year and it was very difficult to select just seven ideas for the final," said Mark Hanington, Managing Director of FIG. "We were looking to uncover businesses that make investors sit up and take notice, businesses with high-growth potential and businesses with the ability to generate significant returns."

"The competition is an excellent opportunity for students and recent graduates to demonstrate their business potential in front of high-profile investors," said Peter Ibbetson, RBS Small Business Chairman. "Congratulations to all the finalists; I am looking forward to seeing how their business concepts develop."

high ABV cocktail-flavoured iced popsicles

Love Iced Cocktails, known as LIC for short, impressed the most, scooping the top prize of £25,000. The business, founded by Imperial College, London and University of Nottingham graduates, Noah Geeves and Harry Simpson, makes high-ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktail-flavoured iced popsicles. Their unique, patentable formula allows the freezing of alcohol with a much higher ABV than competitors without the extensive use of stabilisers. In addition, their products can be transported in liquid form and frozen in any domestic freezer.

"We’re absolutely ecstatic to have won RBS EnterprisingU," said Harry. "The competition this year was incredibly diverse and talented and thanks to everyone who supported us. The £25,000 prize money will be spent on marketing and filing a patent for our formulation. We hope you will all follow us on this exciting journey and look forward to seeing you at our launches!"

"While LIC thoroughly deserved to win, all of the finalists have great potential and we will continue to support them all going forward," commented Mark.

PetShopBowl, a home delivery pet food subscription service and The Tab, a university student media network, took second and third places respectively, winning £10,000 and £5000. Other finalists included Bio-bean, a green energy company turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel, Project Policy a 'search engine' for the world's socio-economic data and My next Tattoo, an online tattoo visualisation tool.

"Nothing beats the sense of achievement when years of hard work, passion, perseverance, fun (and stress!) finally 'morph' into a successful business," said Nick Wheeler, the Chairman of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts who delivered the keynote address. "Hats off to FIG and RBS for helping so many students to embark on their own incredible journeys. The quality of business in this competition has been extremely high and I have no doubt we have seen some real stars of the future."

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