On Monday 17th April, the final stage of Swan’s Den 2023 took place. Eight student entrepreneurs made it through the final, held at the University of Lincoln’s Sparkhouse building, and they were judged by a panel based on a short pitch and a business plan. Our panel included Dr Jo Mason, founder of Propulsion Coaching, Edgar Ryzhkov, founder and creative director of Dela Ltd & Dominick McOmish, marketing and events officer for Research & Enterprise.
Entrants were all students and graduates of the University of Lincoln, and businesses ranged from an app designed around streamlining the process of booking a personal trainer, a bespoke photography and gifting company, a training consultant focussing on user experience in the hospitality sector to a 24-hour delivery service for snacks and beverages based at night-owl students. Prior to the final stage, each of the participants had to submit a business plan to qualify for entry into Swan’s Den, these were originally judged by Isabel Swain, Student Event and Project Co-ordinator at the Student’s Union and Reece Leggett, Student Enterprise Manager.
On the day of the final, each participant was given five minutes to deliver a presentation on their business, with a further 15 minutes allowed for questions. All of the judges commented how strong the presentations were, and how effectively each candidate was able to answer the judge’s questions.
Reece Leggett, Student Enterprise Manager, commented, “It’s great to see the level of knowledge and confidence in those who entered the competition. It’s one thing coming up for an idea of a business, but it is a whole different proposition developing the ability to present in-front of a panel. Having that confidence from such a young age to stand in front of people and deliver a concise presentation and have the insight to answer any question thrown at you is testament to the finalists and I am excited to see the next steps for these businesses.”.
With eight businesses making it through to the final, our prizing was broken down to £5000 for the winner, £3000 for runner-up and £2000 for third place. The judges went through a lengthy deliberation process, but we were please to announced that our winner on the day was Edward Pitts-Drake and his business Pills 365 ltd, which is an automated medication dispenser inspired by seeing his grandmother who suffers with dementia have issues with taking medication on time.
Our runner-up was Oliver Prodger who runs a full-service music studio and wishes to expand his operations to offer higher speciality as well as open his studio up for social endeavours. Our bronze medal went to Maureen O’Callaghan who has created an online learning and development programme based at entrepreneurs and business owners which is designed to harness entrepreneurship to help combat societal and environmental challenges.
Isabel Swain, Student Event and Project Co-ordinator at the Student’s Union, remarked, “We are really pleased to have continued our partnership with Student Enterprise and deliver Swan’s Den this year. I was really impressed with the finalists, but I would also like to say well done to every applicant. Every application had merit, and we were sorry to be limited to 8 in the final. Congratulations to the winners, we’re already looking forward to next year!”
Thank you to Jo and Edgar for giving up their time to judge the finalists, and to Reece and Isabel for their hard work in organising and managing the event. To stay up to date with all things Student Enterprise, you can follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, with our links below!