KYMIRA win both categories of Henley Best Start-Up Business Competition 2016

12 December 2016

KYMIRA win both categories of Henley Best Start-Up Business Competition 2016

In a close fought contest, hosted by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and sponsored by NatWest and Renal Services Ltd, KYMIRA secured the judges vote to win both the Best Start-Up and Best Innovation categories of the Henley Best Start-Up Business Competition 2016.

In a close fought contest, hosted by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and sponsored by NatWest and Renal Services Ltd, KYMIRA secured the judges vote to win both the Best Start-Up and Best Innovation categories of the Henley Best Start-Up Business Competition 2016.

Five start-ups – KYMIRA, MyFalcon, Nourished, TimeTrap Escape Rooms and Wisdom Spring – had been selected to contest the inaugural final which was held on Wednesday 7 December 2016 at the Henley Business School.

Who are the Start-Up Businesses?

KYMIRA is a technology company developing energy harvesting and performance enhancing sportswear and wearable devices for the medical and domestic healthcare markets.

MyFalcon is an online content discovery platform providing 24/7 instant access to up-to-date, user-specific information summaries from social networking sites, news agencies and blogs.

Nourished is a disruptive food company that has developed a range of savoury snack bars for the rapidly expanding market segment and predicted by many to be have a massive impact on snacking in the future.

TimeTrap Escape Rooms is Reading's newest escape games provider that takes you back to the most exciting periods in history, putting you at the centre of the story to rewrite the history books and become the hero.

Wisdom Spring Education is an education company that helps parents find the most suitable schools for their children by providing tailored school placement and bespoke guardian services, with the primary targets being mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea.

KYMIRA, which was founded by Tim Brownstone in 2014, impressed the panel of judges with a combination of a clear product focus, strong intellectual property, customer traction and a capable management team. With six full time employees and already in sight of profit KYMIRA is leveraging its energy capturing technology in developing a range of performance enhancing sportswear and researching into delivering wearable medical devices for monitoring ill health and wellness.

Commenting on his win, Tim said:

“It is fantastic to see that the University, led by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, is putting in place such a brilliant network of events, lectures and mentors to support the thriving entrepreneurial community on campus. There were some brilliant companies competing so to have won not one but both of the categories at the Competition is a real honour.”

Tim collects a cheque for £5,000 for winning both categories and is excited about the future and continuing to scale the business internationally, with a little help from the Henley Start-up Incubator of which KYMIRA is an occupant.

TimeTrap Escape Rooms, founded by Andrew Ingle and Katie Falcon in June 2016, were placed runner-up and impressed the judges and audience by having already generated revenues from multiple events, including a Fortune 100 teambuilding event. Inspired by the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp, Katie got to work with creating the ‘storylines’ and Andrew got to grips with finding venues and selling the events.

Reflecting on the last six months, Andrew said:

"We were absolutely delighted to be runner-up in the Henley Best Start-Up Competition, especially with the quality of the competition being so high. Just six months into our business, the prize money and mentoring from NatWest is going to make a massive difference to TimeTrap and the quality of experience we will be able to offer to our customers. Gaining the audience vote for Best Start-Up was a great feeling and definitely topped off the whole experience. We’d like to thank the sponsors and organisers for giving us the chance to pitch our start-up journey so far and making this happen. From starting university in 2012 to graduating this summer, you can see a shift in the support given by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship to start-ups and there is now a clear message that you don’t have to go straight into a grad job, you can go out there and be your own boss."

The result was a close thing. The electronic audience vote, conducted for fun and to see how the popular vote would compare to the judges’ vote, showed a reversal with TimeTrap Escape Rooms winning the Best Start-Up and sharing Best Innovation with KYMIRA.

Congratulations to Tim and the KYMIRA team and to Andrew and Katie at TimeTrap Escape Rooms.

The judges were highly complementary with regards to the quality of the start-ups that entered the Competition. Stefano Ciampolini, CEO and Founder of Renal Services, said:

“I believe that Tim and his team at KYMIRA can develop a disruptive and innovative technology with multiple applications into a successful venture with multiple exit opportunities. I look forward to mentoring and supporting KYMIRA in the future to help them turn into a world class company.”

Fellow judge, NatWest’s Angela Byrne, was also full of praise for the winners:

“We were most impressed by the quality of the start-ups presenting. Tim and KYMIRA stood out as the winner for us because its offering is different from competition and it is growing sales strongly. Andrew and Katie from TimeTrap Escape Rooms, who finished runner-up, also have to be congratulated having come so far in hosting paid events within six months of starting the company. NatWest is delighted to be supporting the Competition.”

Jurek Sikorski, founder and host of the Competition, wrapped up proceedings and spoke about the qualities of the start-up businesses that made an impression:

“Firstly, it was truly impressive that the start-ups were all very focused on generating revenues and in the case of the winner and runner ups they had moved quickly to grow revenues. Without revenues, and of course customers, there is no business, as many start-ups learn at their cost.

“Secondly, all had built a clear competitive advantage and unique proposition, which is crucial to winning sales. The important point is that you need to be able to answer the question ‘why should the customer buy your product or service and not the competition?’

“Finally, it was very noticeable that the finalists harboured strong ambitions and a pride in what they were doing, which was fantastic to see. Having pride is important because the customer can see it and be persuaded that you believe in what you are doing.”

A special thanks and appreciation goes out to the sponsors and supporters of the Competition, NatWest and Renal Services.

The Competition is an annual event for businesses recently launched by students and graduates of the University of Reading, including the Henley Business School, and in particular those businesses occupying the Henley Start-Up Business Incubator.

The Competition is an annual event for businesses recently launched by students and graduates of the University of Reading, including the Henley Business School, and in particular those businesses occupying the Henley Start-Up Business Incubator.