Leeds Beckett students E-spark of brilliance
Emily Ratcliffe, Connor Bateman, Milly Toner, Ellie Coleman and Laura Bennett, collectively known as The Merry Mammoth, have been awarded a six month residency at Entrepreneurial.spark’s Leeds-based ‘Hatchery’, a collaborative office environment which provides early stage and growing ventures free IT services, Wi-Fi and access to mentors, entrepreneurs and professional services; from lawyers to accountants, and manufacturers to investors.
Founded as part of the Enterprise and Events Module, The Merry Mammoth had to come up with a unique business plan to pitch to a panel of ‘dragons’, including The Director of Business Banking at NatWest. Having successfully seen off the competition with their idea for cocktail ice lollies, the group of five moved into the ‘Hatchery’ on Wednesday 17 February. After six months, if their business plan is deemed successful, they will have the opportunity to gain a further 12 months support.
Emily explained: “We were invited to apply for E-spark by Christopher Rushworth from Natwest whom was really keen to support us in getting the business started. Initially we went for a tour of the facilities and then applied for an interview. At the interview I was required to present a 60 second pitch (on behalf of the group) and then answer questions from the mentors Mike and Melinda. After being accepted onto the programme I was asked to attend a two-day ‘Bootcamp’, after which the whole group was invited into the facility. Since then we've set action points and are now full steam ahead trying to teach the business how to walk. We're aiming to be up and trading within six months at local food festivals and small events before progressing to much larger festivals and events, and trading nationwide soon after that.
“E-spark has provided us with an awesome opportunity to fast track and accelerate our business. Not only are the mentors a great help, the other businesses within the hatchery are so supportive. We're surrounded by problem solvers, level heads, innovators, creative, and all round fun people. I honestly couldn't think of a stronger environment to be in to start up a business.”
Dr Julia Calver, Senior Lecturer at the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) said: “We are really delighted that The Merry Mammoth students have worked together to develop an enterprising idea, pitch and be successful in receiving such recognition! The module places a high value on working in teams, meeting with industry, including NatWest, and managing real projects, ensuring our students access and learn from academics as well as professionals as part of their learning at UKCEM.”
With Hatcheries throughout the UK, Entreprenerial.spark focuses on developing entrepreneurial mind sets and behaviours to enable acceleration and growth.
Image (L-R) Connor Bateman, Emily Ratcliffe, Milly Toner, Ellie Coleman, Laura Bennett