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The entrepreneurial students who honed their business ideas during the exciting Venture Adventure in Thailand.

The West met the East when seven stand-out entrepreneurs headed to Bangkok and beyond at the end of May as part of the Santander Universities UK initiative.

They had been chosen for the Venture Adventure 2023 from a strong field of entrants after applying and excelling in a series of business challenges at the University’s Business School, earlier in the year.

In Thailand they enjoyed more exciting challenges which helped to test and develop their burgeoning endeavours, ranging from art therapy, biodegradable tableware, e-learning and freelancing enterprises, to a service providing guided world tours for people with disabilities.

The seven are studying undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the University including: Business Management; International Business Management; International Tourism Management; Product Design; Art Therapy and Psychology, helping them to analyse and evaluate their ideas from different perspectives.

The 10-day trip featured a visit to Bangkok University where the students shared their ideas with the Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship and tutors from the School. They also spent time at a business in the heart of Bangkok, called the Hive, a co-working space designed for entrepreneurs and other Small-to-Medium Enterprises. Students had the chance to meet the manager who explained the Hive’s business model in detail.

The students were given the opportunity to explore the culture, including visiting an elephant sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage site, and understand the Thai landscape and market further and link these back to their business propositions.

They benefitted from activities including an overall introduction to an effective business model, mentoring each other, and the adventure was rounded off with a pitch day on the beach at Ventureland, where the students were challenged to present their enterprise in five minutes, with the resources at hand.

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The entrepreneurial students who honed their business ideas during the exciting Venture Adventure. Winner of both the pitching competition and leadership award, Aadhi Agilan, is pictured on the far right.
The entrepreneurial students who honed their business ideas during the exciting Venture Adventure. Winner of both the pitching competition and leadership award, Aadhi Agilan, is on the far right.

Four winners were chosen: 

  • First place: Aadhi Agilan - who is developing Enrole, an holistic e-learning platform and freelancing enterprise where individuals can learn skills on the website and then offer their services on demand to clients while building a portfolio.
  • Second place: Ting An - whose idea is a company that works with other enterprises and offers art therapy workshops with services to their workers to promote well-being.
  • Third place: Eleanor Jones - who pitched Yes Idol, an online store providing K-pop albums and merchandise, initially in the UK.
  • Fourth place: Lucy Marwood - who put forward Lemore, offering a range of bespoke tableware products made from a 100% biodegradable food waste composite.

The runners-up were: Luisa Ellis and her business concept, Open World Travel, offering guided tours for people with disabilities; Oscar Oldbury-Swift who shared his vision for Nimbus, a sustainable logistics company, and Tobias Taylor whose idea is daily tourist tours by foot or bicycle to Bangkok’s top attractions and food destinations, with 20% of the profits going to charity.

Students were also allocated as leaders of the day, where they were in charge of their peers. Aadhi Agilan won the leadership award, voted for anonymously by the students, making it a double-win with first place for his pitch.

Dr Connie Hancock, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Management at Chester Business School said: "The Venture Adventure provides enterprising students with the opportunity of a lifetime, to further develop their entrepreneurial thought and action, through unforgettable experiences.

“The students impressed both the representatives of Chester Business School and colleagues from Bangkok University with their ideas and enthusiasm and we look forward to seeing what they do next in their endeavours.”

She added: “I would like to thank Santander Universities UK, in particular Damien Mullany; Bangkok University and the Hive for making the experience possible.

“We’re also extremely grateful to all our colleagues in the Department of Management, the Chester Business School and University who support us in offering this opportunity, with special thanks to Fran Shollo and Dr Henry Sidsaph, lecturers at the Business School, and Diane Appleton from Student Futures, the University’s Careers and Employability support service.”

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities UK, said: “At Santander, we recognise the crucial role that entrepreneurs play in building and strengthening the UK economy. We support the innovators of the future at every stage of their journey, connecting them to the funding, training, exposure, and networks they need to grow their business ideas.”

Pitch and leadership winner, Aadhi Agilan, a first year undergraduate Psychology student from Singapore shared more on the opportunity: “The Venture Adventure experience has been an incredible journey, filled with learning, networking, and growth. It provided a platform for me to showcase my entrepreneurial spirit, connect with industry experts, and receive valuable feedback on my business model. The competition challenged me to refine my pitch, articulate my vision creatively, and demonstrate our leadership qualities.

“Winning the pitching competition and receiving the leadership award was truly an honour. It affirmed the value of my business concept and the dedication I put into its development and pitch. It also highlighted the importance of effective leadership in driving success. The recognition has given me an immense confidence boost and reinforced my passion for entrepreneurship.”

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