Big wins for three Big Pitch finalists!

Published: 26 May 2011 at 11:30

Students toast success after their business ideas catch the eye of judges

Three teams from Anglia Ruskin University walked away with £10,000 each after impressing the judges during the final of The Big Pitch competition.

Team leaders Tom Barton, Kanayo Ogwu and Phill Richardson all successfully pitched their business ideas to a panel that included Rajeeb Dey, Vernon Spencer and entrepreneurial expert Walter Herriot OBE, after more than 40 initial entries were narrowed down to a shortlist of seven for the grand final in Cambridge.

In addition to their £10,000 start-up funding, they will also receive 12 month’s free office space at the Anglia Ruskin’s business incubator unit; 12 month’s free business banking with Barclays; legal advice and support from Eversheds; accountancy services and advice from Peters Elworthy & Moore (PEM); and creative and branding support from One.

Kanayo Ogwu, who is about to complete an MA in International Business, is behind X Sports Connect, which is a mobile phone app that will act as a social media platform for football fans across the world.

The 30-year-old, who is originally from Nigeria and now lives in Cambridge, said:

“This is so exciting because it has always been my dream to start my own business.  I’ll really cherish this opportunity and I’ll do my best to make sure that I don’t let down the judges, organisers and sponsors of this fantastic award.”

Tom Barton, 20, and his business partner Mark Reyner, 23, are behind Digi Ping, which is another innovative mobile phone app.  Digi Ping allows users to scan barcodes at venues such as libraries and museums to download maps and floor plans.

“The whole process during the final – especially making the presentation to the judges – was nerve wracking, but it was a great result for us,”

explained Tom, who is studying for a BA (Hons) in Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management at Anglia Ruskin.

“I think our product is quite bold and ‘out there’ and that probably appealed to the judges. We’ve been dreaming big, possibly too big at times, and we wanted to come up with an idea that can help a huge amount of people.”

Phill Richardson, who is about to complete a PhD in Acoustics of Percussion, has developed software that automatically generates music videos based on the lyrics of a song. Vid Magic gives up-and-coming musicians the chance to upload videos online for little cost or effort.

The 27-year-old said:

“The music industry is something that excites people and is now an incredibly hi-tech business, so that’s one of the reasons why my idea probably appealed to the judges. 

“To be honest I was pretty nervous before my presentation but I’m absolutely overjoyed to win, and I’m now really looking forward to spending the next year developing the product.”

Jackie Cooper won a smaller prize of £4,000, donated by Visual Planet, for Aquasoftna, which is a water filter that can be easily attached to shower heads to soften water without restricting flow.

The Big Pitch competition, which was open to all current undergraduate and postgraduate students at Anglia Ruskin, was run by Senior Lecturer Ben Mumby-Croft from the university’s Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR) in partnership with Anglia Ruskin’s Research, Development and Commercial Services (RDCS).

Ben Mumby-Croft said:

“We’re passionate about working with students and getting them to understand what it takes to get an idea and then make a success of it in the real world.

“Entrepreneurship is all about creating the right frame of mind; it’s not a job title.  The Big Pitch has been all about getting people to have a go, take ideas on board and not get downhearted if it doesn’t immediately work out.

“It’s very easy to knock ideas but we have to support young people and help them to take their ideas to the next stage, and those taking part in this year’s competition have not only been the trailblazers but also wonderful ambassadors for Anglia Ruskin.”

Lester Lloyd-Reason, Professor of International Enterprise Strategy at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“'The Big Pitch perfectly demonstrates the commitment CEDAR has to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship across the whole of Anglia Ruskin University.

“The quality of the student presentations illustrates the entrepreneurial spirit which exists across all Faculties and going forwards CEDAR will use every effort to allow all of our entrepreneurial students to achieve their aspirations.”

Paddy Bishopp, founder of Paddy & Scott’s coffee company and one of The Big Pitch judges, said:

“The Big Pitch has to be seen as a blueprint for showcasing the amazing young talent that will be the next generation of UK entrepreneurs. Not only did we see seven great business ideas in the final but we saw seven people with passion, dedication and a will to succeed.”