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Rachel Sinden

The funding, through Santander’s Excellence in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Awards, was awarded to six businesses who have participated in the Venture Programme, to support start-up costs or to contribute towards business expansion activities. The awards were announced during the very first virtual The Venture Pitch 2020 event which took place recently.

The Venture Programme equips students and graduates with the skills and knowledge to start up a business or build their freelance career. It is comprised of nine modules which cover different aspects of starting up a business. These are Setting Up; Sales and Marketing; Business Responsibility; Finance and Funding; Enterprise Skills; Business Planning; Legal Matters; Online Marketing; and one-to-one business advice surgeries. 

Accessible to students from all disciplines and levels of study, Venture consists of a unique blend of content from industry partners to support individuals at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Venture offers different interventions, from one-to-one tailored advice to interactive group activity through a series of 53 events delivered throughout the academic year.

Students and graduates who had been involved in the Venture Programme over the year had the opportunity to apply. Shortlisted candidates attended a full day of workshops, around the theme ‘Your First Year in Business’, followed by the pitch day itself.

Amber Gaffoor.jpg

Amber Gaffoor
Amber Gaffoor

Judged by Mike Skinner, RTC North; Leon Stowell, Ellis and Co. Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors; Robert Simmonds, Santander Universities; Andrew Davey, INDUSTRY Chester Coworking; Hems de Winter, Hems de Winter Consulting; Louise Hope, motivational speaker; and Jennifer Kennedy, Membership Director of the North Wales and West Cheshire Chamber of Commerce, participants were asked to deliver a five-minute pitch outlining their business idea and model.

Six businesses were then awarded a share of £5,900 start-up funding through the Santander Excellence in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Scholarship. Various other business support prizes were also awarded during the event. The University would like to acknowledge the kind support and sponsorship offered by INDUSTRY Coworking, Forresters IP and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce.

The following people/businesses were successful with their pitches:

  • Rachel Sinden, a Creative Practices in Education graduate, was awarded £2,500 for Play Pizzazz whose vision is to provide training, consultations support and arts-based activities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children across the UK in both schools and in the home. Rachel was also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce.
  • Amber Gaffoor, an English Literature and Education Studies graduate, was awarded £1,000 for Destiny Dice; a small business that specialises in creating customised dice for gamers in the UK. Amber was also awarded a start-up website, one-to-one business coaching and a professional logo design. Amber runs Destiny Dice with her business partner, Robin Wilson.
  • Franceska Shollo, who is studying a Master’s in Digital Marketing, was awarded £300 for Standout; a company which aims to bring social media e-campaigns to life by developing basic camera effect filters, interactive filters and games across social media. Fran was also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and desk space within INDUSTRY Coworking.
  • Jacob Trainer, a final year Law student, was awarded £600 for Jake Eats; a platform which brings together content and information for students, relating to all areas of student life. Jacob was also awarded an iPad through the Forresters Award.
  • Thomas Johnstone, a second year Psychology and Sports and Exercise Science student, was awarded £1,200 for Eat Good at Tommy’s; a food stall which combines the love of food and travel. Thomas was also awarded one-to-one Marketing Consultancy, a professional logo design, a branded merchandise bundle and a professional photography package.
  • Cherry Baguneid and colleagues from Mind Audit Ltd., who are all studying a Master’s in Clinical Counselling, were awarded £300 for one-to-one business coaching to help the development of their North West based start-up company which addresses the specific mental health needs and challenges faced by both individuals and organisations. They were also awarded a 12-month membership to the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and a professional logo design.

The following awards were also made:

  • Cheryl Sorensen, Conor Dangerfield and Jack Higgins, who are studying at the Chester Business School, were awarded one-to-one business coaching for Event Meet, which helps small event organisers by providing a website to connect, engage and expand their following and community and provides a digital platform for event attendees to engage with a community of other event enthusiasts.
  • Shelly Gathigia, who is studying a Master’s in Family and Child Psychology, was awarded a professional logo design and social media support package for Research Den, a company which seeks to solve the problem of sourcing adequate, reliable and suitable research participants and delivering them the researcher on request.

Kirsty Badrock, Venture Programme Co-ordinator within the Careers and Employability – Student Futures team, said: “The Venture Pitch 2020 showcased a fantastic amount of entrepreneurial spirit and talent from across the University. It was an incredibly inspiring, positive, fun few days where the students and graduates showed real commitment and passion in pursuing their business ideas. This was the first time that the event has been held virtually and those pitching certainly rose to the challenge! I would like to thank our Venture partners and Santander Universities for their continued support.”

For more information about Santander Universities UK, visit:

@SantanderUKnews (Twitter)

@SantanderUK (Facebook)

@Santander UK Universities (LinkedIn)

@santanderuni (Instagram)


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