On Thursday 26th January 2017, Basepoint Business Centre hosted the Young Start-up Talent (YST) annual speed-networking event with a selection of young entrepreneurs from across the Gatwick Diamond region, all hoping to inspire and impress the business professionals that they met during the evening. Each candidate was competing for their place to be in the final five, bringing them one step closer to being announced as the winner of a prize fund of business products and services worth £50,000.
The entrepreneurial initiative 'Young Start-up Talent' and powered by NatWest was first in launched back in 2010 in Gatwick, and has since expanded across the South of England and London. With its seventh year in full swing, YST are very proud to work alongside 140 businesses, all of which support the next generation of entrepreneurs. Sponsors for the Gatwick Diamond include companies such as London Gatwick Airport, Lingfield Park Racecourse, Thales Group, Richard Place Dobson and many, many more (see list of those involved at the end of the article).
Lisa Sorensen from Crawley Borough Council, commented; "There is some really interesting business ideas, some of them quite on trend. It is great to see youngsters feed their entrepreneurial aspirations".
David Kickham from Thales Group and judge for this year stated; "I am very impressed with the quality of the presentations and the enthusiasm of the candidates"; whilst long-term sponsor and fellow judge, Matt Tyson of Richard Place Dobson added; "There was a good variety and culturally diverse offering of business ideas".
Nine businesses pitched their ideas on a 1-2-1 basis to each of the business professionals. The candidates had just ten minutes to convince the sponsors of the feasibility and originality of their business, whilst also showing their entrepreneurial flair, passion and creativity.
The young entrepreneurs included:
Will Putner and Sam Devine, both aged 16 and students from Sackville School, with their business 'Shoe Kingdom' a UK based shoe auction app.
Sean Wicks, aged 18 and at Central Sussex College with 'Project Trinity', a games developer, designer and publisher; who said, "overall the experience has been incredible, from the interaction with the judges to their feedback. It has been really useful to help assess my business and push it forward with my drive and passion".
Gideon Angell, aged 17 and also a student from Central Sussex, who is selling stylish urban baseball caps;
Robbie Walder and Josh Leggit, both aged 17 and from Southwater and former students from Collyers College, with their business 'Label', an online platform that allows clothing retailers to sample their stock to young male adults;
Abbie Pritchard, age 21 and a current third year student at Brighton University, with her revolutionary food app that reveals the amount of specific nutrients, such as fat and sugar, in food hoping to prevent bad nutrition. Abbie stated; "I have learnt more in the last 3 months by working with the Young Start-up Talent team and from the event today than I have in the last three years of University!"
Harry Daymond, age 17, with 'Kart Kompany', a multi-functional event brand which provides services in the form of a vintage Kart for weddings, parties and other special occasions;
Ben Hickie and Archie Burrows, both aged 24 with their specialist recruitment business, 'Balmont Associates';
Will Bower, aged 23 and a graduate from Sussex University, with 'Royalty Three' - a unique viral marketing and video production company; and finally,
A group from Sackville School all aged 17 years old, including; Sidney Ellis, Henry Lagrange, Daniel Wheate and Thomas Axtell with their business 'Counter Play Café', which brings people together through gaming. Sidney Ellis commented; "it has been a very intense experience which has taught us a lot already, with plenty of things to think about for the future. The event has brought new ideas to the table that we hadn't ever considered before, but that can help us develop the business even if we do not win the prize fund."
The process will continue over the next couple of months. The judges now have to decide which five businesses will make it through to the final, where they will have to present and pitch their detailed business plans to a panel of six judges at the offices of Thales Group in Manor Royal. The winner of the prize fund of business products and services will be announced at a showcase final event on Monday 20th March 2017, at Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel, where the winners of 2016, JubyLee Bakes will give an update of their first 12 months in business and inspirational guest speakers to include Neil Laughton.
To find out more about Young Start-up Talent, please visit: www.youngstartuptalent.co.uk. Alternatively, if you would like to attend the showcase please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sponsors and judges that took part in the speed networking evening were from the following organisations: