On Thursday 20th October, Young Start-up Talent (YST) hosted their first showcase for the Solent region at the Novotel Southampton Hotel. It was announced that the lucky young entrepreneur who has won the prize fund of business products and services worth £50,000 is Harry Phelan of Studio H.
Following the announcement, Harry commented, “I’m genuinely shocked. Although I put in a lot of effort to get here, I didn’t think I would win. I was just so nervous!”
Harry now plans to use the prize fund to help expand and grow his business, much faster than he could have achieved without Young Start-up Talent. Studio H will now be able to move from a room in his parent’s home, into his own barber shop, as well as take on a number of apprentices from the local area, allowing Harry to train them on the job and teach them the special techniques that makes Studio H distinctive and individual.
Michael Dyer from Verisona Law and judge of the initiative commented “The enthusiasm for Harry’s business model was absolutely infectious. His vision to bring in education and train other young apprentices gave him the added edge.” With Zara Hogg, Partner of Wilkins Kennedy and also judge adding “It’s brilliant to see that it doesn’t have to be a brand new, technological idea, to win.”
In addition to the winning prize fund a Highly Commended Award was announced to another young entrepreneur, John Wheal with his business Group Hub – an online space to make the organisation and management of groups, clubs and societies much simpler. All judges were so impressed with John’s business knowledge and acumen when he pitched his idea back in September that all the judges kindly contributed to another prize fund to help him grow his business including virtual office space, help with PR, finances and legals.
John Wheal commented: “I am extremely happy and honored to have been awarded the Highly Commended prize. I am really looking forward to future and I have a vision that one day Group Hub will be used by every group across the world.”
Simon Finch, Relationship Manager for NatWest, also added, “At every awards ceremony, people always say that it was really close, but this time is actually was! The judges had to deliberate long and hard over who should win, and I feel both Harry and John are worthy winners”.
After launching the initiative in January of this year, the YST team sought to find the best young budding entrepreneurs, aged between 16 and 25 years old. After being carefully selected from a number of applicants, the chosen candidates worked their way through a series of business workshops and attended a 1-2-1 speed-networking event with both sponsors and local businesses to help them develop their business plans. From there, the candidates were whittled down to just five finalists.
At the Pitch, the finalists had to present their developed and refined business plans to not only a panel of seven judges but also with five camera’s recording them and later shown at the final with the hope to convey why they deserved to win the competition. After a long and tense wait, the winner, Harry Phelan of Studio H, was announced as the very first Solent winner. Studio H is a modern take on a traditional barbershop and already has nearly 300 clients. Harry believes that it is his unique cutting styles and shaving techniques that attracts the clients, and keeps them coming back.
Young Start-up Talent was honoured to welcome guest speakers Chris Allington, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation, Patrick Le Henaff of Novotel Southampton Hotel as well as successful young entrepreneur and newly appointed director of Young Start-up Talent, Rob Nunn, to speak at the event.
Richard May, Innovation Director at Oxford Innovation, said “It’s amazing to be able to give these young entrepreneurs the opportunity to trial out their thoughts, aspirations and ideas. I wish there was a scheme similar to this when I was their age.” Richard is looking forward to working with YST next year, as the success from our first year in the Solent snowballs.
Mark Waldron, Editor for The News Portsmouth, said, “This is a brilliant initiative that supports these very talented young people. Harry is a very worth winner – he is a star, and I wish him all the best.”
As well as the winner, and highly commended award the other finalists, who also impressed the judges with their professional pitches, included:
Calvin Macleod, with his business ‘Life Beacon’ – a mobile based application that provides tools for its users or patients to manage their medical health. Calvin said; “Although I’m disappointed not to have won, it has been a great experience and I have made lots of great new contacts to help push me forward”.
Ming Wu, with ‘UU-U Design’ – an experimental lifestyle brand and design studio, specialising in fashion, jewellery and wearable technologies. Ming stated; “The process has given me clarification on where and how to take my business forward. I want to become an industry leader in making technology disappear”.
Casper Nielsen, with his business ‘One Beyond’ – a new customer-centric mobile network offering 4G on EEs network. Casper remarked; “The value in this competition is not just the prize fund, it also lies in the networking and contacts you receive throughout the process. With this in mind, I now plan on growing One Beyond to 2 million customers within 5 years.”
Young Start-up Talent would finally like to thank all the sponsors who have helped make the YST Solent initiative a brilliant success. We would also like to thank the YST team behind the scenes, who ensured the whole process ran smoothly.
Sponsors of the initiative and who all contribute to the £50,000 prize fund are as follows:
If you would like to get involved in the process next year please email firstname.lastname@example.org