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Students Pitched their Passion to win

Late last year we teamed up with Pattersons Commercial Law and Sir Thomas White Loan Charity to help entrepreneurial students get their business ideas off the ground, with the Pitch Your Passion competition.

Last week (Friday 23 March) the competition concluded with six finalists pitching their ideas to a panel of judges, consisting of The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity Chair of Trustees David Howard, owner and director of Pattersons Commercial Law Rik Pancholi, Leicester College Employability and Enterprise Manager Gemma Jackson and the College’s Director of Human Resources Rod Wood.

After some time deliberating the judges unanimously agreed to award the 1st prize of £1,000 to Panda Creative, whose pitch was headed up by Ioana Ignatsecu, to expand their multi-ending role-play video game concept.

Rik Pancholi with Pitch Your Passion winners Jacob Mason and Ioana Ignatsecu, of Panda Creative, along with David Howard

Ioana, who is studying a Foundation Degree in Design and E-Media at the College, said: “I’m so happy! The prize money will allow us to get the business set up as a limited company, help to get the book published professionally and let us buy some software. We need help writing contracts so the professional advice will be really useful for that, and other things I’m sure.”

The 2nd prize of £600 was awarded to Becca Geraghty – who is studying soft furnishings and upholstery part-time – and her business Gerrets, which makes hand-made and bespoke garments, soft furnishing and accessories. Studying electrical installation part-time, Billal Aboobakar took 3rd prize of £400 for his product idea – Retracto, a device to make writing implements easily accessible.

“It’s really exciting and I’m really surprised,” said Becca. “The money is wonderful but the business support is just as important and should help me to expand what I’m doing.” Billal added, “The judges’ acknowledgement that my work is worth supporting means that I can take it to the next level.”

A further three prizes of £100 each were given to Luis Torres, Amarachi Imoh and Jelena Rama. All finalists will also benefit from professional advice from Pattersons Commercial Law.

Rupinder Drew, Business Enterprise Manager at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy said: “We were thrilled to have Pattersons Commercial Law and Sir Thomas White Loan Charity sponsoring this competition. The quality of entries from our students was outstanding and I’m certain that the finalists will all really benefit from, not only their monetary prizes but from the specialist advice and guidance available to them.”

David Howard, Chair of The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, said: “It was a pleasure to be involved in the first Pitch Your Passion competition, which really did showcase a variety of business ideas. The one thing that came through following the final was that the businesses showcasing a creative idea, rather than models which saw the business re-selling an existing product, had stronger plans in place, highlighting the importance of really knowing your product. We felt that the three winners showcased something that was creative, new and could be successful businesses. Congratulations to all of the entrants that made it through to the final, especially our three top prize winners.”

Rik Pancholi, Owner and Director of Pattersons Commercial Law, added: “Following an enjoyable morning listening to some good business ideas, we are really looking forward to working further with the Pitch Your Passion entrants to help develop their business ideas. The winning business, Panda Creative, really came across as an ‘aim for the stars’ project which we all admired and was well structured. Gerrets was a fantastic project, where time and energy has really been put in to develop a brand. We thought Retracto was a great product that put a twist on an existing product to make it unique. I’m already looking forward to next year’s competition.”

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