Cardiff Met invests £10,000 in eight new start-ups with Santander funding

​​​17/06/2016

​The 2​016 Countdown to Launch programme​ participants with judges and Cardiff Met staff

The 2016 winning participants:

Back row l-r: Lauren Davies (Entrepreneurship Coordinator at Cardiff Met), Karen Dell'Armi (panel member and contemporary jewellery designer and maker), James Watson (Santander Regional Business Manager and panel member), Dewi Gray (Business Start-up Manager at Cardiff Met), Lee Sharma (founder of Simply Do Ideas and Head Judge), Steve Aicheler (Entrepreneurship Officer at Cardiff Met) and Sarah Thomas (University Relationship Branch Manager at Santander).

Front row l-r: the graduate winners: Clojo Bedingham, Sam Davies, Nimyrah Caesar, Jennifer Finnigan, Anna Palamar, Jay Symonds and Danielle Flowers. 

Cardiff Metropolitan University's Centre for Entrepreneurship has invested £10,000 in eight new start-up businesses following its recent Countdown to Launch programme. The £10,000 prize fund has been sponsored by Santander Universities.

From June 6th to 10th the Centre for Entrepreneurship held its annual business start-up programme Countdown to Launch which saw 22 budding entrepreneurs developing their business ideas through a series of interactive workshops, guest talks and development activities. 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 the Cardiff Met students and graduates learned about all aspects of business start-up from refining their idea and marketing their product/service to intellectual property and financial planning. The programme was delivered by the experienced team at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, academic staff within the School of Management and two previous Countdown to Launch winners: Charlie Anderson and Josh Barnett.  Charlie successfully pitched for funding for his business Trucktel at the first Countdown to Launch programme in 2013. He is currently developing the world's first standardised network of inland cargo ports and has received funding from several global organisations including the Willis Group. Charlie shared his expertise on accessing investor funding with this year's cohort.

Josh Barnett was one of six Countdown to Launch winners in 2014. He runs a street clothing brand called Treatment Clothing and has recently starred in the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee. Josh delivered a talk on the marketing tools that he has used effectively in his business including social media and celebrity endorsements.

On the final day of the programme the participants were given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs and business professionals for a share of the £10,000 prize fund. The panel consisted of: Santander representatives James Watson (Regional Business Manager) and Sarah Thomas (University Relationship Branch Manager), contemporary jewellery designer and maker Karen Dell'Armi and Lee Sharma, Chief Executive of Simply Do Ideas which provides assistive technology and tools to turn early-stage business ideas into action.

Lee Sharma is also working closely with the Centre for Entrepreneurship to deliver the ideas accelerator programme which aims to support graduate entrepreneurs in developing and refining their business ideas while also developing their entrepreneurial capabilities. Lee commented:

"Countdown to Launch is a fantastic programme highlighting the entrepreneurial talent being produced at Welsh universities. The standard of pitches was exceptional this year with many presenting market-ready products and services. I'm particularly excited as Simply Do Ideas will have the opportunity to work with many of these talented entrepreneurs as part of the next Ideas Accelerator at Cardiff Met." 

The eight Countdown to Launch winners will be offered a place on the Ideas Accelerator programme and will also receive on-going support as they develop their businesses. In addition, the winners will receive a share of the £10,000 prize fund which will enable a number of opportunities including test trading, marketing activities and product development. The funding has been provided by Santander through its Santander Universities division. University Relationship Branch Manager Sarah Thomas commented: "We've been really impressed with the commitment of Cardiff Metropolitan University to its student entrepreneurs. Countdown to Launch is a fantastic programme that transforms budding entrepreneurs into confident business owners. Launching a start-up is always a daunting experience and Cardiff Met and Santander are proud to be supporting these entrepreneurs ensuring they get a head start in their business ventures."

The eight individuals that have received funding are: Will Ruscombe-King, who has developed a patented exercise box, textile designer Anna Palamar, furniture designer and maker Jennifer Finnigan, Sam Davies who has created a pop-up retail and exhibition solution, Jay Symonds who runs a yoga and meditation business aimed at students, textile designer and maker Clojo Bedingham, Danielle Flowers who is launching a contemporary craft business using sustainable methods and Nimyrah Caesar who is launching an international student recruitment and support agency.

The judges commented on how impressed they were with the high calibre of candidates at this year's programme. Each of the eight winners will receive access to the Centre for Entrepreneurship's start-up incubator which provides free office space for Cardiff Met student and graduate start-ups as well as mentoring and support from the team at the Centre for Entrepreneurship. Winner Jay Symonds commented:

"Countdown to Launch has been a great experience, so much effort and work has been put into supporting young entrepreneurs and I am very grateful to have been chosen as winner. It is my passion and goal to bring yoga and meditation to students who could benefit from these practices and winning Countdown to Launch has allowed me to get closer to this."

The team are looking forward to working with each of the start-ups as they grow and develop their businesses while continuing to provide specialist-support to budding entrepreneurs throughout Cardiff Met.