Ese Omoarukhe with Hi’Fab wins Henley Business School and Pitmans Ideafest Student Business Idea Competition

14 July 2014

Ese Omoarukhe with Hi’Fab wins Henley Business School and Pitmans Ideafest Student Business Idea Competition

Ese Omoarukhe with Hi’Fab wins Henley Business School and Pitmans Ideafest Student Business Idea Competition...

Friday 4 July 2014: The inaugural Henley Business School and Pitmans Ideafest Student Business Idea Competition was won by Ese Omoarukhe, a PhD student from the Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences at Reading University with Hi’Fab.

Ideafest was organised by the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) at the Henley Business School and co-founded by Pitmans, who were recently voted as ‘The Outstanding Performer’ law firm in the Deals Awards 2014.

The final stage saw five finalists selected to present to a judging panel that included John Hargrave Finance Director, Pitmans, John Cavill Founder & CEO, Intermezzo Ventures Ltd, Pete Doyle Founder & CEO, Social Retail Ltd, Norbert Morawetz Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the HCfE, Jurek Sikorski, Business Development Lead & Executive in Residence, HCfE and Jenny Tooth CEO of the UK Business Angels Association.

Ese’s business idea, ‘Hi’FAB’ is a natural beverage whose main ingredient is the extract from Hibiscus Sabdariffa, a plant that has been discovered to regulate blood sugar and lower raised blood pressure.

Branded Hi’Fab the beverage is inspired by a popular drink enjoyed in various parts of Africa. Ese spotted the opportunity to improve the health drink and offer it to other parts of the world including the UK and Europe where hypertension and Type 2 diabetes are major health concerns.

The judges were particularly impressed by Ese’s deep knowledge of the market and the science of the nutritional value of Hi’FAB and her motivation to develop the product. Having already identified a bottling plant and with access to formulation facilities at the Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences the judges felt Ese was well placed to make her idea a reality in a short space of time.

Ese will now receive mentoring from Pitmans which will help her to launch her product.

Ese, who collects £1000 in prize money said of her win: “I am extremely excited to win the first ever Henley Business School’s Ideafest Competition as I know it is a stepping stone to greater things. I learnt quite a lot from Ideafest and I am glad that the judges liked the idea enough to call my product “fabulous” - I hope this will be the reaction of consumers when Hi’Fab goes into the market! A big thank you to Henley Business School and Pitmans for creating and supporting this worthy initiative”

Second prize went to Aditya Sen, responsible for FlyAsh, a brick that is manufactured from the residue of coal burning and Michael Adjei and Nick Francke secured third place with PinCloud - a website for travellers to share their stories. They received £500 and £250 in prize money respectively.

Aditya said of his second place: “The Henley Business School Ideafest has played a vital role in boosting my confidence and moving me a step closer to my dream. At first, I was really nervous about the idea and how the panel of judges would react but then, in the process, I guess I was able to convince the judges and more importantly myself that I really could go ahead with my dream.”

Michael commented: “I still can't wrap my head around pitching to people from the likes of the UK Business Angels Association. This was an invaluable experience, allowing me to test the waters with an idea that I am beyond passionate about. The feedback was exceptional, so be prepared because there's a lot more to come!”

His co-founder, Nick, said: “The competition was a great opportunity for me as it allowed me to turn my passion, travelling, into a viable business. It has given me confidence to go out and start my first business.”

Presenting the prizes, John Hargrave of Pitmans said, ‘I was very impressed by the high quality of business ideas and the energy and motivation of the finalists who had clearly carried out a great deal of market research. Pitmans is delighted at the prospect of mentoring the winner and runners up to develop their ideas into successful business ventures.’

Prof Andrew Godley, Director of HCfE delivered the closing remarks and was excited with the interest in the Competition and the quality of entries. Also Andrew announced the latest initiative from the HCfE which is the Entrepreneurship Club, a student run club that will create a forum for promoting and nurturing entrepreneurship across the University which is scheduled to be launched in Autumn 2014.

For further information about the Ideafest Competition please contact:

Jurek Sikorski

Business Development Lead & Executive in Residence

Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship                


Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship

Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship is part of Henley Business School at the University of Reading which provides a hub for teaching and research in the subject, inspiring students from across the University to embrace, develop and apply their entrepreneurial abilities.


T: 0118 378 8188

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For more information please contact Jurek Sikorski by email at or by phone on +44 (0)118 378 8188.