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2021 business plan competition winners

The University’s 2021 Business Plan Competition saw a 65 per cent increase in entries on the previous year, with winners sharing a total prize fund of £9.5k.

Organised by Spark, the University’s business start-up team, the prestigious competition is open to both undergraduates and alumni who graduated up to 7 years ago. Business plan entries cover two categories: trading and pre-trading.

Kairen Skelley, Spark’s head of business start-up said: “It was really interesting that while we had such a large increase in entries this year, the overall standard was as high as always. Perhaps lockdown gave students and graduates the space to really hone their ideas and plans. The judging panel found it tough to select a shortlist of twelve for the presentation stage, never mind decide on the overall winners!”

First place in the trading category was awarded to graduate Lyndon Timings-Thompson (Geological Sciences, 2016) for his business We are Social Enterprise, a recruitment agency that helps disadvantaged and underrepresented groups all over the north of England into work. Now based at the University’s flagship Nexus building, Lyndon (26) left a graduate job at a large construction company in April 2019 to start his venture. Despite lockdown restrictions, he and his business partner have already placed dozens of people into jobs.

“I’m a big believer in business for social good,” says Lyndon. “We’re focusing on the construction industry for now, but have plans to expand into the retail and financial services sectors. The prize is fantastic and will go towards expanding our current team.”

First place in the pre-trading category was awarded to graduate Connor Moore (Anatomy, 2017) for his venture OSCEpal. Now qualified as a doctor, Connor has developed an app to support medical students through practical exams - an idea sparked when studying with friends for their exams, known as OSCEs.

“Typically we practice OSCE scenarios using prewritten cases in textbooks or we write our own. It’s difficult to prepare and practice this way, so OSCEpal is bringing this revision into the digital age,” says Connor. “It’s great to have your idea recognized by business experts, and I’m excited to keep developing the app further with the prize money.”

Two special prizes funded by Limehouse were awarded by its Managing Director, Nick Howard, who won the business plan competition himself in 2008 and who now helps to judge the competition.

Nick gave £500 each to undergraduates Pauline Pawlak (Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence) for her business, Immibox; and Corin Elliott and Sam Murphy (Mathematics) of Turncoat Games.

“Both businesses really appealed and the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs was infectious,” explains Nick. “Creating a new board game is something we’ve not seen before and in an increasingly digital world, it’s novel to see students take on such a traditional market. The attention to cultural detail in sourcing products and treats for those living away from their home countries in Pauline’s business - including things like creating music playlists and sourcing streamed films in non-English languages - is a lovely, thoughtful touch.”

The full list of winners: Trading category
First prize - £2000: Lyndon Timings-Thomson, We Are Social Enterprise
Joint Second prize - £1250 each: Benjamin Clark (Business Management, 2020) for Crease Preventers, importing shoe care products and reselling online; and Economics student Harry Simpson for Moss Nook Honey, producing honey for local businesses and private customers from his beehives and offering beekeeping courses.

The full list of winners: Pre-trading category
First prize - £2000: Connor Moore, for OSCEpal
Second prize - £1250: Business/Economics/Finance students Jack Miller, Edward Silverstein, Daniel Jackson and Jack Glazer for USH Mobility Ltd, providing pay-per-minute standard and electric bikes for the campus and around Leeds

Third prize - £750: Theatre and Performance students Arathi Suresh, Ellie Cansdale, Grace Wilkinson & Hetty Bater for Hitcher Encounters, an immersive theatre production company.