31 August 2017 - 12:46 pm

Meet the winners of our Evolve Business Competition

Every year, University of Sheffield Enterprise runs a competition to celebrate the growing startup stars supported by its Evolve Programme. This competition is an opportunity for entrants to increase awareness and exposure for their startup (FAME) and get a cash injection to help grow their business (FORTUNE). 

This year, we set out to find our three top startups who would each win £2000 cash AND be entered into the private Sheffield Universities category of the Sheffield Business Awards and a ticket to the ceremony where they’ll gain exposure with the wider business community.

Any startup that has received support from Evolve was eligible to apply as long as:

  • the business is located in the Sheffield City Region
  • they’re already trading
  • they’ve been trading for less than two years

The judging panel (made up of Campus Capital Student VCs) was looking for: proof that they’re solving a real problem and need for customers; clarity of vision to grow the business; previous and planned investment and financing; and a sound understanding of the market they’re in and how they plan to enter and capture it.

After much deliberation, the following three companies will be representing The University of Sheffield in the Sheffield Universities category (which will also include three startups from Sheffield Hallam) at the Sheffield Business Awards this year…

Can we get a drum roll please…

(in no particular order)

Founder, Will Chew

Mak Tok – Producing artisan chilli paste to be sold directly to consumers and businesses in the tertiary sectors. The founder of Mak Tok is William Chew who did an MA in the Psychology of Music at The University of Sheffield. He’s sponsored by The University of Sheffield through the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurship Visa Scheme and has accessed mentoring and Evolve Funding several times for this and previous startups he’s worked on.

Find out more about Mak Tok on their Facebook Page

From the judges…
(Mak Tok) is giving a unique flavour to food and they are willing to expand and test markets in future such as the vegetarian markets. Through the development of new products and constant trial and error he has something that will be able to sustain itself with the potential to expand to other areas.

Founder, Dimitri Konstantinidis

Living Services – Serviced apartments in Sheffield, catering primarily for short-stay professional travellers. Looking to scale out the model to become the AirBNB for business and corporate bookings. The founder of Living Services is Dimitri Konstantinidis who completed a four year MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Sheffield. He accesses mentoring and support through Evolve as well as being a regular attendee at Founder Brunch events.

Find out more about Living Services (trading as Homely Apartments) on their website.

From the judges…

Finding very short lets can be very difficult without paying a hefty rent and I have seen the difficulty in letting out very short term properties before. This has clearly solved the problem from both sides.

Though competing with AirBnB; this is a different specialised market and would create confidence between landlords and tenants and as they are servicing working professionals, the properties would end up staying in a better condition with higher quality control.

Founder, Kisha Bradley (left)

Bright Box – They’re on a mission to get more socially excluded kids to see that science, technology, engineering and maths can be fun and creative. After all, they’re going to be the ones making inventions of the future. The founder of Bright Box is Kisha Bradleywho did her MSc in Management (International Business) at The University of Sheffield. Kisha is originally from the USA and is sponsored by USE through the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurship Visa Scheme. She also works from our coworking space, has regular mentoring and has successfully pitched for Evolve Funding from our grant pot.

Follow Bright Box on Facebook

From the judges…

Helping more girls into STEM subjects is very important for diversity and hidden talent. As a social enterprise, this service has a great social impact to the community and the activities and classes allow kids to get a hands on approach with the STEM subjects as well as building a community of like minded kids around them who would be their own biggest supporters.

STEM is a popular and growing area. To date Bright Box has grown organically by attending events and through word of mouth growth.

Last year, The University of Sheffield became the first university to set up a Campus Capital Student VC group – a team of students enrolled on an experiential learning programme designed to give them deep understanding of the venture capital world from the investor’s side of the table. Students part-run a live fund that invests up to £200k into startups linked to the university or based in the city region.

Four of our Campus Capital Student VCs made up the judging panel for our competition this year. They are:

Baiju Shah, 3rd year Economics & Finance

Alex Thiery, PhD Developmental Biology

Jacqueline Kaminsky, 3rd year Economics

Tristan Westlake, 2nd year Economics with Finance

Thanks to them and thanks to all the entrants into this years Evolve Business Competition. Now all that’s left to do is write some cheques and wait until the Sheffield Business Awards in December when we’ll find out who will be crowned king or queen of the Sheffield Universities Award Category.

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    Evolve Startup Support

    Evolve is a startup support programme run from the University of Sheffield. It includes private mentorship, coworking, funding and events. Open to all students and graduates of The University of Sheffield, no matter how long ago you graduated.