Children’s indoor teepees and a taxi-sharing app for students have been named winners of the 2014 University of Leeds Business Plan Competition organised by Spark, the University’s business start-up service.
The annual competition awards prizes in two categories: Pre-trading and Trading up to 24 months. The winners each receive a prize of £2,000.
Alice Colligan won in the Pre-trading category for her business, Youmi & Teepee, a range of indoor playhouse teepees for children.
BSc Biology undergraduate Alice came up with the idea when discussing ways to encourage children to read for pleasure with her mother who works in a primary school.
“I’ve been approached by local boutiques to stock the teepees and I’ll start selling in May 2014 when my website goes live.”
Alice was awarded an Enterprise Scholarship from the University in November 2013 and also received Proof of Concept funding in January this year.
She will be using her prize money to create more designs as well as work on ideas for accessories.
“I absolutely love being creative, and winning this prize is a great boost to my business. With ongoing help from Spark I’ve got the support I need to move forward.”
The taxi booking and sharing app is tailored specifically for students and is in use in Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham.
A new deal signed with leading taxi company, ComCab, will also see the service rolled out to Birmingham and Liverpool, with a view to nationwide operation.
Sam Ryan said:
“Spark awarded us a Proof of Concept grant to get the idea off the ground.
“We knew it had potential, but without Spark and support from its network of advisors we may never have got to this point.
The awards were presented at an event attended by more than 100 guests, including Leeds alumnus, serial entrepreneur and Enterprise Scholarship benefactor Martin Penny, and members of the business community from across the Leeds City Region.
Kairen Skelley, business start-up expert at SPARK, said:
“We are working on embedding an enterprise strategy across the whole University and we’re seeing the results with greater numbers approaching Spark for advice on starting their own business every year.
“The entrepreneurs keep in touch with Spark and their businesses are showing a two year sustainability rate of 80 per cent, which is outstanding, and testament both to their ingenuity and tenacity and the University’s dedication to enterprise.”