Meet this year's start-ups funded by the Henley Greenshoots Seed Finance Award Scheme 2023
Greenshoots, led by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) and sponsored by Santander Universities, was set up in 2019. Its goal is to nurture and support the growth of start-up businesses founded by current or recently graduated students of Henley Business School or the University of Reading.
Start-ups applying for the funding go through a rigorous vetting process. They are tasked with showing a panel of judges the evidence that their business has the potential to grow and become sustainable.
From a strong field of applicants, eight winners were selected and invited to the Henley Greenshoots Seed Finance Award Ceremony on 27 June 2023. The Greenshoots award winners were as follows:
- BloodMatch, a health-tech platform founded by Nor El Islam Messedad, which connects compatible blood donors with patients in need of a match.
- InvestorPro Academy, an online education platform and community founded by Brandon Bradford, which teaches beginner traders and investors about stocks, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.
- LetPlant, a proptech and biotech app founded by Tolu Abdulsalam, which a uses a remotely controlled smart planter system to allow customers to monitor and optimise the growth and health of their plants.
- LOJUTU, a software development company founded by John Ayodele, which has developed a financial literacy and wealth-building app called Realise that acts as a savings, investments and fundraising platform.
- Phytapanel Agriculture, a deployable indoor farm business founded by Korntawat Somwong, which uses a fan, a filtration panel and air quality sensors to grow microgreens.
- Pop Lids, a producer of reusable lids founded by Conor McNamara, which seeks to revolutionise disposable takeaway coffees by to reducing plastic waste.
- Prink, an event marketplace app founded by William Trevis, which aims to connect university students through a digital 'town square' of events in halls accommodation and across campus.
- Soluta Fintech, an alternative investment platform founded by Yasuki Matsuzaki and Romeo Lucarelli, which individuals and businesses can use to make environmentally sustainable financial decisions and manage their portfolios.
An additional award of £1,500 was made to LetPlant as the Best Overall Business.
At the award ceremony the start-up founders shared the story of how they launched their business, the challenges they had overcome and their visions for the future. Many had already entered HCfE's other student entrepreneurial initiatives, such as the IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition or the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp, and used them as a springboard to turn their business idea into a reality.
The awards were presented by Jurek Sikorski, HCfE's Executive Director, and Janice Galvin, the Campaigns Projects Officer for the University of Reading's Fundraising team.
Presenting the awards, Jurek said:
"The businesses which received awards epitomised innovation and demonstrated potential for rapid growth. HCfE is delighted to be supporting its students and recent graduates to innovate and start and build businesses, which ultimately will contribute to a vibrant economy. Congratulations to all the businesses."
Simon Poulter, Relationship Manager for the South East Region at Santander Universities, added:
"At Santander, we recognise the crucial role that start-ups, scale-ups and small businesses play in building and strengthening the UK economy. We support the innovators of the future at every stage of their journey, connecting them to the funding, training, exposure and networks they need to grow their business ideas."