Henley Greenshoots Finance Award Scheme 2022 supports student businesses
Eight start-up companies, all founded by current students or recent graduates of Henley Business School or the University of Reading, were presented with £1,250 by Henley Centre of Entrepreneurship (HCfE) as part of the Henley Greenshoots Seed Finance Award Scheme 2022.
The objective of Greenshoots, sponsored by Santander Universities, is to assist in the growth and nurturing of start-ups founded by current or recently graduated students. Applicants for the funding are asked to show evidence that their business has the potential to grow and become sustainable.
A panel of judges reviewed the start-up applications and the following winners were awarded the funding:
- Authentura, founded by Shlok Masheshwari and supported by Sebestyén Morris, Samuel Boyden, Keiran Mather, Dasith Vidanage and Collin Joseph, is a cyber security service offering firms a software security audit report of their websites.
- Catenna, founded by Joshua Elliott and George Carter, is a consultancy and software development platform to connect research and business, utilising artificial intelligence to match suitable companies with research institutions to help take research forward and apply it commercially.
- Fitness Discipline Coaching, founded by Nathan Gibson, is an online fitness coaching business that offers a combined package of traditional personal training and mindset development to support customers to develop their discipline and willpower.
- Insight Ed, founded by Cassandra Renaut, is a platform to connect young people to businesses through business boot camps, with SMEs benefiting from business analysis and young people gaining hands-on work experience and skills training.
- Nilbon Yoga, founded by Dr Niloofar Borghei Razavi, is a business that offers group and one-to-one yoga therapy for those suffering from chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.
- Optique Contacts, founded by Reza Sheikholeslami, is a subscription service for prescription contact lenses.
- Phytavaren Technology, founded by Kolatat Phaiboonnukulkij and Kongphat Phaiboonnukulkij, is a biotech company that produces a vertical façade installation planter system into the external walls off buildings, using biophilic design and phytoremediation technology to cleanse water waste and air pollution.
- Zer0 FS, founded by Benjamin Dixon, is a digital bank targeted at Gen-Z customers that rewards carbon positive behaviour.
At the award ceremony, held on 28 June 2022, the start-up founders shared their business' journey so far and their plans for the future. Many commented on how HCfE had helped support their journey so far, through initiatives such as the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp and the start-up visa endorsements to allow recently graduated international students to stay in the UK to develop a business.
The Greenshoots winners were then presented with their awards by Simon Poulter, Santander's Relationship Manager for the south-east, who spoke about the innovation and drive that the award winners displayed:
"I work with dozens of universities and see hundreds of businesses every year and Santander Universities' commitment to student and graduate start-ups is unwavering. This is my second year being involved with Greenshoots and I've once again been blown away by the ideas these founders have presented today. A huge well done to all the winners."
The ceremony finished with a short talk from Dylan Parkes, the Director of Alumni and Supporter Engagement for the University of Reading. Dylan shared how impressive the business ideas were and how pleased he was that the founders came from a diverse range of backgrounds. He added that the University of Reading had a commitment to environmental sustainability and that the Greenshoots entrepreneurs were similarly focused on addressing the challenges the world is facing.
In addition to the £1,250 cash prize, the winning companies will also have other opportunities available to them. These include mentoring from business experts, one-to-one feedback on their application and networking opportunities with other start-ups.