Young entrepreneurs from across the South East pitch their ideas to business professionals

Finalists, judges and sponsors at Basepoint Business Centre in Crawley

Finalists, judges and sponsors at Basepoint Business Centre in Crawley

Young Start-up Talent (YST) hosted its annual speed-networking event at Basepoint Business Centre with young entrepreneurs from around the South East, all hoping to inspire and impress business professionals from the local area. Each candidate was competing for their place in the final five, bringing them one step closer to being announced as the winner of prize fund of business products and services.


The entrepreneurial initiative ‘Young Start-up Talent’ was first in launched in the Gatwick Diamond back in 2010 and has since expanded across the South of England and London. With its eighth year in full swing, YST are very proud to work alongside a host of businesses, all of which support the next generation of entrepreneurs. Sponsors for the South East Region include companies such as NatWest, Lingfield Park Racecourse, Thales Group, Grant Thornton Accountants and many, many more.

New to the panel of business professionals this year is John O’Mahony, Partner at Grant Thornton who attended the event said, “The event was brilliant, we heard some great business ideas and met a group of very bright, brilliant young people”. Whilst fellow judge and sponsor Daryl Gayler of NatWest added “the entrepreneurial talent just gets better and better each year”.

Young Start-up Talent South East 2018 finalists

Young Start-up Talent South East 2018 finalists

Ten young business minds pitched their business ideas on a 1-2-1 basis to each of the 25 business professionals that attended the event. The candidates had just ten minutes to convince the sponsors of the feasibility and originality of their business, whilst also showing their entrepreneurial passion and creativity.

The young entrepreneurs included:

Joshua de Wit of Sussex University with his sustainable energy storage solution ‘Green Carbon’, Milimo Banji with his business ‘Student Inspire Network’ to help motivate and educate students to start thinking about their career paths, Natasha Drakakis of ‘VoiceBlog’ - an online platform to aid those with a disability to blog online using audio, Harriet Douglas of Miilkshake - a multi-platform publication and community for young female creatives, Alexander Heron with a bakery in East Grinstead, Angel Odumosa of Angel Orose - an innovative cosmetic lip range, Matthew Pritchard - an inclusive fashion and alteration brand for those with disabilities and Samara and Merrissa Gidden with Haus of FLVR - contemporary alcohol infused ice lollies.

Finalists and sisters Samara and Merissa Giddon of Haus of FLVR commented “We both found the session to be informative and engaging”.

With Milimo Banji of Student Inspire Network adding “Thank you to all those involved in the Young Start-up Talent project for all the support so far - very excited for the next stages and the rest of the process.”

The process will continue over the next couple of months, with the final five entrepreneurs formally pitching their businesses to the panel of five judges at the offices of Thales in Manor Royal during February. The winner of the prize fund of business products and services will be announced at a showcase final on Monday 12th March 2017 at Lingfield Park Resort.

To find out more about Young Start-up Talent please visit: Alternatively, if you would like to attend the showcase please RSVP to:

The Business Professionals that took part in the speed networking evening were as follows:

Daryl Gayler - NatWest

Dave Kickham - Thales UK

John O’Mahony - Grant Thornton

Ana Christie - Sussex Chamber of Commerce

Cath McDermott - Reigate & Banstead Borough Council

Antony Etheridge - Structured Communications

Matt Warren - Structured Communications

Melanie Martinez - Fastsigns

Alan White - Fastsigns

Ben Chubb - NatWest

Stephanie George - Basepoint Business Centre

Lise Sorensen - Crawley Borough Council

Marie Harris - Beta Futures

Leigh Chambers - Horsham District Council

Mark Bennett - Bennett Christmas

Roger Christmas - Bennett Christmas

Lorraine Nugent - Wildwood PR

Matt Turner - Creative Pod

Geoff Williamson - FSB

Neil Laughton - Laughton & Co

Tino Da Silva - Business Radio