Young Entrepreneurs Face Fiery Panel of Business Professionals in Kent

YST Kent finalists 2016 – Left to Right Kelly Culver, Jonathan Wood, Serena Christie, Ben Jeffries, Edoardo Abati

YST Kent finalists 2016 – Left to Right Kelly Culver, Jonathan Wood, Serena Christie, Ben Jeffries, Edoardo Abati

The Business Terrace at Maidstone House, the Gateway has been home to this year’s Young Start-up Talent process for the Kent region. The initiative, designed to aid 16-25 year olds in starting up their own business, has taken this year’s entrepreneurs through business know-how workshops followed by a speed networking event which saw local business professionals meet with the young minds. The chosen final five faced the tough job of pitching their polished business plans to a panel of judges in a bid to walk away with the prize fund worth upto £50k. The prize fund, which is made up of products and services donated by local businesses and sponsors, will provide the chosen winner with all the necessities to kick start their business off the ground.

YST Kent judges 2016 – Left to Right Keith Cane, Simon Warne, Matt Turner, Lorraine Nugent, Rob Nunn, Dara Chauhan, Michael Adamou and Irfan Baluch

YST Kent judges 2016 – Left to Right Keith Cane, Simon Warne, Matt Turner, Lorraine Nugent, Rob Nunn, Dara Chauhan, Michael Adamou and Irfan Baluch

The judges consisted of 8 business professionals and included Keith Cane – Director of Town & Country Housing Group, Dara Chauhan – Director of NatWest, Simon Warne – Partner of Crowe Clark Whitehill, Irfan Baluch Partner of Cripps, Michael Adamou – Head of Media Sales of Trinity Mirror South, 22 year old entrepreneur Rob Nunn and Director of six businesses, Lorraine Nugent – Managing Director of Media Word Waves and founding partner for Young Start-up Talent along with fellow founding partner Matt Turner and Director of Creative Pod.

Judge – Simon Warne of Crowe Clark Whitehill commented “I found the event hugely enjoyable and the entrepreneurial spirit was clearly evident in the business plans and presentations.  Some of the candidates had to endure close questioning and it was encouraging to see their mastery of relevant detail as well as defining strategic vision.

Whilst Keith Cane of Town & Country Housing Group and also a fellow judge added “I was really impressed by the quality of the pitches and how the business ideas had been developed since the last round” and Michael Adamou of Trinity Mirror South said “A wonderful night, such a talented bunch of individuals with extremely exciting futures”.

                                                           The judging panel that finalist faced

                                                           The judging panel that finalist faced

The final five young entrepreneurs included:

Serene Christie with her business Imperial Industries which works around upcycling old coins into cufflinks and jewellery.

Ben Jeffries with Influencer, a social media marketing agency that connects people with a high social media following.

Johnathan Wood, who entered the initiative with Eagle Travel, a service that specialises in flexible holiday bookings with a personalised touch. Jonathan said “A very competitive and a fantastic experience”.

Edoardo Abati, who pitched his business Servee to the judges, a company which aims to fill a gap between local restaurants and big food chains.

Kelly Culver was passionate about her business Route 66 Motors which involves restoring classic American cars and said “A great night with such valuable business advice given”.

Judge, Dara Chauhan of NatWest said “I was impressed to see the finalists show their talents and especially impressed by the fact they had taken on board feedback delivered at previous sessions which is a very important part of the process.”

Thanks go to the team behind the scenes at the event where former finalist of Young Start-up Talent Kiran Reardon who along with Ben Towers of Towers Design and successful young entrepreneur helped calm the finalists and prepare them for the formal pitches.

The team at Young Start-up Talent would like to thank Karen Franek of Maidstone Borough Council for the use of the building to film the formal presentations as the team were given access to a part of the building that has never been used before to create an industrial feel to the footage and formal presentations.

The Young Start-up Talent winner will be announced on the 15th of September along with the first showing of the film created at the Maidstone at the famous Gulbenkian Theatre at University of Kent campus in Canterbury. The judge’s verdict will determine which lucky entrepreneur will be walking away with the prize fund worth upto £50,000.

To find out more please visit:


Sponsors involved in this year’s Kent initiative include:

Crowe Clark Whitehill

Town & Country Housing




West Kent Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Maidstone Borough Council

Creative Pod Ltd


Media Word Waves

Infinity Integrated Technologies

Breakfast Friends

The Kent Foundation

Gulbenkian Theatre

Young Enterprise

University of Kent

BIS (Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

Kent Regional News and Media

Let’s Do Business Group

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

The Kent Foundation



Social Marley

Discovery Park