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The winners of the inaugural Liverpool Start-Up Competition have been announced following a close final.
CORE – an edible coffee company – tied first place with Learning with Laura – a subscription box service for the Chinese market containing English language educational resources – after a nail-biting final in the Shankley Hotel in Liverpool.
The two start-up companies were put through their paces alongside the four other finalists at a live event where they had to pitch their ideas in front of an audience and the all-important panel of judges.
The prizes for the winners include:
We caught up with business founders Lukáš Tabák (BA International Business) from CORE and Laura Hitchcock (BA Business & Chinese Studies) from Learning with Laura to find out more about their ideas and how it felt to win.
Image shows (left to right) Lukáš Tabák (CORE Founder and CEO), Waleed Nauman (CORE Assistant CEO), Danielle Baldwin (Pink Media Ltd Account Manager)
Our product is called CORE (Coffee Ready to Eat) which is an edible coffee mixture meant for direct consumption, that provides the same benefits as normal coffee.
CORE can be consumed instantly anywhere and anytime without further preparation.
It is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans, lactose free dried milk and bio rice syrup and it includes no additives. One pack of CORE is equal to four coffees.
We found the competition to be engaging, challenging and fun with lots of bright business ideas. It was very well organised and is a great platform for future entrepreneurs. We especially liked how the competition mimicked the real business world, for instance the promoting and pitching as well as the financial side. It was up to you to be independent and take the initiative. We worked constantly on our idea for two months and so it was very satisfying to win against the great competition. We didn’t know what to expect before our pitch, but it turned out better than we expected, the reaction from the judges and audience were exactly what we were hoping for. It was a proud moment and overall an incredible process that we will both remember in the future.
Although the £5,000 and free office space for 6 months are great, what we see as the most useful asset is the guidance and expertise of investors. The business world can be daunting and hard to work through, but the mentorship of people who have already succeeded is a great way to get our business off the ground. From industry contacts to market knowledge, it is all a big help. For us, as inexperienced businessmen, this is invaluable. Undoubtedly, all of the prizes offered by the competition are important and extremely helpful to the further development of our business. We look forward to putting them to good use and therefore growing our business.
Image shows (left to right) Yan Schreier (Learning with Laura Co-Founder, CFO & Marketing), Laura Hitchcock (Learning with Laura Co-Founder, CEO & Teacher), Danielle Baldwin (Pink Media Ltd Account Manager)
After living in China for three years I was able to teach in both poorer and richer areas. There I was able to see the stark differences in the English learning opportunities. We are solving this problem by offering affordable English education delivered through a monthly box. We include all the resources – great quality books, worksheets and fun online materials and all the guidance needed to get a great grasp of English for kids aged 5-10 years old. We have been working on the business in Liverpool for over 6 months and in my year abroad we are both going to move to Suzhou in China to start selling our product!
After hearing about the competition at a society event we couldn’t walk away from the opportunity to win 50% of the capital needed to start our business! The competition process was more fun than expected, the most enjoyable part of the competition was creating our promotional video, we used stop motion and worked for hours moving our tiny pieces around. Getting to be creative in that task was really exciting and when we went around the University to canvas for votes we got a lot of great feedback which we could use to make our final pitch really stand out. By the end we felt so excited about what we could achieve with our business and when we won, we were both so proud and grateful! We put a lot of effort into the competition and seeing that pay off was lovely.
The prizes are all incredibly useful. With 50% of the funds needed now taken care off we can concentrate more on making this product the best it can be. The money alongside the 6-month free working space at Signature Works will be the most useful for us at the moment because we can network with others in a space designed to help small businesses grow and grow.
Main image shows (left to right) James Robinson (Director Signature Living Ltd), Lawrence Kenwright (Director Signature Living Ltd), Stephen Page (CEO The Start-Up Funding Club), Andy Oakes (Partner BWM Chartered Accountancy), Neil Tweedle (Business Relationship Director of Santander), Yan Schreier (Learning with Laura Co-Founder, CFO & Marketing), Laura Hitchcock (Learning with Laura Co-Founder, CEO & Teacher), Lukáš Tabák (CORE Founder and CEO), Waleed Nauman (CORE Assistant CEO)
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