2020 applicants
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Students show entrepreneurial spirit at the Big Pitch competition

  • Date

    Thu 31 Oct 19

Big Pitch 2019

Essex students got the chance to present their innovative business ideas and receive funding at the annual Big Pitch event.

The Dragons’ Den-style competition organised by Essex Startups at the Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway, saw nine students form five business pitches presented to a panel of business experts.

From helping to build a prototype to developing software, funding from the Big Pitch can help bring students’ business concepts to reality.

To take part in the pitch, students first attended a bootcamp in June to work on areas of their business and learn new skills. Students then worked with the Essex Startups team to develop a business plan over a two-month period.

They were then invited to attend the Big Pitch at the Innovation Centre on Tuesday 15 October. The full day event included a pitching practice session led by public speaking coach Kayla Conley before the official presentations in the afternoon.

Students delivered a five-minute pitch to head of Start-Up Support Andy Mew, Kayla Conley and Beatrix Mett from German Translation Services.

Securing first place at the competition was Alex Slade (Accounting and Finance) and Ben Reeder (Management Economics) who won £1,500 for their business project, Thrift. 


Thrift is a business platform that allows charity shops to upload their items to a central hub. Users can download and use the Thrift app to search and buy items online and have them delivered to their door. 

The app eliminates the need for customers to trawl through lots of charity shops for an item, and increases the charities’ visibility. Thrift is currently being rolled out in Colchester.

Andy Mew said: “To hear the variety of business ideas pitched today was absolutely incredible. The University of Essex is proud to support its students and graduates as they start and continue their journey to becoming successful business owners. I’m delighted that we are able to recognise these future business leaders for the effort they have put in with a series of grants designed to help their businesses grow.”

If you’re an Essex student and have a business idea you would like to develop, then make sure you come along to the next summer bootcamp in June 2020, which will help you prepare a business plan for the Big Pitch next October.

For more information or advice on starting up your own business, please contact the Essex Startups team.