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Henley’s student entrepreneurs present at IDEAFEST 2023 final

IDEAFEST Final 2023 Photo One

Investor Pro Academy - a student business - won the Best Business Idea category and a cash prize of £1,000 at this year's Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition.

BSc Business and Management student Brandon Bradford was the brains behind Investor Pro Academy, an online education platform and community that teaches beginner traders and investors about stocks, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens. The judges were impressed with their strong early progress and potential to diversify to attract a wider demographic.

Upon receiving the award, Brandon said, "My business has been in the works for 12 months and I'm now ready to launch. I'm grateful for the chance to pitch and pleased the judges saw the potential in the idea."

The award was presented by Mark Shagra, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Southern Communications Group, who said, “Congratulations to everyone that presented. There’s lots of advice we can give offline to help your business take the next step.”

IDEAFEST Final 2023 Photo Two

The 10th anniversary of IDEAFEST was held on 26 April, with five student teams from across Henley Business School and the University of Reading selected to present at the final from a number of applicants.

The £500 second place award went to BloodMatch, a health-tech platform led by MSc Data Science and Advanced Computing student Nor El Islam Messedad, which connects compatible blood donors with patients in need of a match.

Third place prize of £250 was presented to Fit Cookie AI, an application programming interface that uses artificial intelligence to provide personalised nutrition recommendations. Fit Cookie AI is led by BA Entrepreneurship and Management student, Rosen Georgiev.

In front of an audience of more than 40 people, gathered in-person and online, the five teams pitched their idea and answered questions from a panel of judges that included prominent business leaders, academics and previous IDEAFEST participants.

Other business ideas included Pop Lids, reusable lids for takeaway coffees, and TalkieSpace, a platform where movie enthusiasts connect with one another, and request cinemas and other venues play their favourite films on big screens.

As well as the Best Business Idea category, Josh Moden, co-founder of CBY Capital and Ideafest 2021 winner, presented Brandon with the Best Innovative Business Idea prize and recalled his own IDEAFEST experience, when he presented his business idea CryptoBusy back in 2021: “I’ve been in your shoes and know what it’s like to present at IDEAFEST. Your business idea is a space we know well and there’s lots of advice we can share.

Fit Cookie AI also received a £3,000 bursary for the Best Business Idea for China category.

All the finalists were granted professional mentoring to develop their business ideas and a place on the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp 2023. Copies of 'Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler' by Ella's Kitchen founder and University of Reading Chancellor Paul Lindley were also given.

In his closing remarks, HCfE's Executive Director Jurek Sikorski commented:

"Developing business ideas is something you will be involved with throughout your career, whether leading or as a member of a team. Remember that creating and developing a business idea is all about seeking out new and better ways of doing things, a characteristic of an entrepreneurial mindset.

Congratulations to the winners, runners up and finalists."

The IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition is led by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and was kindly sponsored by Southern Communications Group, CBY Capital and Savio Kwan. A special thank you to all those who took part in the competition, especialy the judges.

Published 2 May 2023

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