Over £3000 awarded to enterprising students at the 2015 Business Venture Competition!

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year’s Business Venture Competition took place at the newly created co-working space at the Innovation Centre on Tuesday 28 April.

Our keynote speaker and founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Jim Cregan arrived with his sister Suzie and a cool box full of samples of his iced coffee! We were very excited to welcome Jim and Suzie to the BVC awards who first launched their product 4 years ago in Selfridges.

Our six finalists arrived just before 5pm along with their family and friends; all of them spoke of how nervous they were and that they had practiced their 2 minute business pitch for most of the day!

Background music filled the room as guests arrived taking the opportunity to network, enjoy light refreshments and sample Jimmy’s Iced Coffee! They chatted away about their passion for student enterprise as they browsed our awards programme!

The evening kick started with a short speech from Jenny Creasey, Design Crafts graduate and owner of Itch Gallery. Jenny shared how winning the Creative Award at the Business Venture Competition in 2012 helped her buy Itch Gallery and the continued support from CEO has been fundamental to the success of her business. It was lovely to hear from Jenny and her journey since winning the Creative Award.

Design Crafts graduate and Itch Gallery owner Jenny Creasey.

Design Crafts graduate and Itch Gallery owner Jenny Creasey.

Next to take the stage was down to earth Jim Cregan! Before we got to hear the story of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, there was a giant Jimmy’s Iced Coffee beach towel to be won by a member of the audience! The winner was decided by a massive game of paper, rock and scissors!  Our keynote speaker informed the audience of how Jimmy’s Iced Coffee started after discovering and falling in love with iced coffee during a trip to Oz in 2008! Not only was the story of his brand inspiring and motivating for our six finalists in the room, his comedic timing was spot on providing our audience with many smiles and giggles!

Jim’s main message to our enterprising students and graduates was to “just crack on and keep your chin up whatever happens. Everything is a bit of a risk when you’re starting out and it’s about being able to separate what is fact against what your gut is telling you to do.” This was reinforced when Jim shared his favourite quote from the 1995 film Babe “Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.”

After 106 initial applications back in November 2014, it was time for our six finalists to pitch their ideas to the audience for their chance to win cash prizes and business support from our sponsors.

Alexandra Williamson, a Design Crafts student was the first finalist to grace the stage with her luxury handmade leather goods brand Alex Williamson. As well as making leather goods, Alex also wanted to pass on her skills and expertise through workshops.

Stormburst Studios is a joint venture by final year Computer Games Programming students Derry Holt and James Heath. Stormburst Studios aspires to bring game-based innovation to the world of technology.

The third person to pitch their business idea was Performing Arts student Katie Higgins with her performing arts school for children and young people Elevate Arts. The school will offer different types of classes to enable children to achieve a range of different awards.

The first of the Business Award finalists was passionate baker Rebecca Madeley. The Education Studies student pitched her idea to bake cakes that offer a range of dietary requirements such as gluten and dairy free cakes. Her long term ambition is to open a vintage bakery which would be known as Becky’s Kitchen.

Sarah Higgins (no relation to fellow finalist Katie Higgins) took to the stage to pitch Power of Love Leadership for the business award. The Business and Law graduate pitched her leadership model which helps leaders understand emotions and feelings and clarify how they’re affecting results within their team.

Last but not least to pitch was 2014 BAL graduate, Yasmin Greenaway with her venture Fundvestr, a crowdfunding platform which supports ethical businesses.

It was time for the nerves to kick in again, as the sponsors of each award revealed the winner of their category. The few seconds of a silence before the winner was announced must have felt like hours!. The winners of each category won a £1000 cash prize and business support from the award sponsors. The winners were:

Creative – Sponsored by Itch Gallery
Katie Higgins – Elevate Arts

Business – Sir Thomas White Loans and Marketest
Rebecca Madeley – Becky’s Kitchen

Technology and Innovation – Prospect IP and Business Analysis Consultancy Ltd
Yasmin Greenaway – Fundvestr

The winner of the final award of the evening was decided by a live text vote. Each member of the audience had one vote to decide who would receive the £250 CEO Enterprise Award.

CEO’s Project Manager Amy Maher announced that with 35% of the vote, Derry Holt and James Heath were awarded with £250 cash bursary towards their games studio Stormburst Studio.

Thank you once again to each of our sponsors and attendees of the event for their continued support for CEO and student enterprise.

For more information about CEO and how we can help you kick start your ideas, please visit www.dmu.ac.uk/ceo


Kick Start your business in 2015 with our Business Venture Competition!

A New Year usually means setting yourself a new challenge such as eating healthy or learning something new. However, 2015 may be the year you decide to kick start that exciting new business idea or decide you would like to work for yourself!

Alongside business advice and workshops, we help DMU students, staff members and graduates turn their ideas into reality with an annual competition.


The Business Venture Competition (BVC) provides applicants with the opportunity to win cash prizes and start-up support to help kick start their business. From illustrators to t-shirt printing, over 15 business ideas have benefited from the competition since it’s launch.

Amy Maher, Project Manager of Campus Enterprise Opportunities in Careers and Employability at De Montfort University says: “Campus Enterprise Opportunities (CEO) Business Venture Competition is a great opportunity to kick start your business idea.  Whatever your idea might be I would encourage any DMU student or graduate to enter the competition, as with cash prizes and business support to be won it is a great way to develop your idea and get it off the ground.”

With cash prizes and start-up support to be won, enter the competition now and start turning your idea into a reality.

Your idea

The competition is for any type of business idea whether it is a product or service. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a new invention or product, you could be looking to become a freelance photographer or start a new clothing range. With different award categories there is something for everyone no matter what faculty you are from.

One of the competitions many success stories is Kieza Silveira De Sousa who studied BA Graphic Design. Kieza was awarded with the Business Award in 2013 and won the overall CEO Enterprise Award for his t-shirt printing company Wear Your Heart Out. Find out more about Kieza’s start-up journey and WYHO in his guest blog post.

Kieza pitching WYHO at the Business Venture Competition 2013.

Kieza pitching WYHO at the Business Venture Competition 2013.

What do I need to do?

To enter stage one of the competition all you need to do is complete a short application online by visiting www.dmu.ac.uk/ceo. If you have any further questions about the BVC please email ceo@dmu.ac.uk

Luck is what you have left over when you’ve given 100%


We had a fantastic evening at the annual BVC Awards on Tuesday night as well as a lot of chocolate! The six finalists arrived just before 5pm bringing with them a swarm of butterflies in their tummies. Standing up in front of a room full of people explaining your idea is a big thing; I know I couldn’t have done it.

The sun beamed through the atrium as guests arrived taking the opportunity to network while enjoying light refreshments. The room warmed up with their passion for enterprise as they chatted away about their excitement for seeing the six finalists pitch their ideas and eager anticipation of hearing from Jo Fairley about her story of co-founding Green & Blacks, which of course naturally sparked them to move onto their love for chocolate.

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