Lambeth’s young entrepreneurs faced a Dragons’ Den style judging panel in a bid to win funding for their businesses during Capita’s Your Big Idea event.
The event, now in its third year, was held at Brixton East 1871 with 19 budding entrepreneurs from the food, clothing, social enterprise and film industries, among others. Run by Capita, in collaboration with Lambeth council and supported by Hatch-Incubator and The Prince’s Trust, it was open to the borough’s 17-27 year olds.
The day began with a workshop led by life coach Onyi Anyado, covering networking, presentation and elevator pitches. Damien Nowell, from Radley Yeldar continued with an “our brand” exercise exploring target markets and product positioning. Enterprise and development consultant Thomas Strasser-Neuhofer from Hatch Incubator explored sales and marketing techniques. Sofia Whyte, the 2014 “Your Big idea” winner and founder of The London Baby Journey, gave a presentation and answered questions from attendees eager to hear from her about the Does and Don’ts of business.
Two local brothers Ezra and Eric Kiggundu, founders of the Mr Suave male grooming brand, said that they would recommend “Your Big Idea” to other businesses.“I found today very useful,” said Ezra. “We went through the business canvass in a lot of detail and started to understand what value we can provide our customers and how to position our products. The workshops reinforced the importance of thorough research and also finding the right sources of information and advice.”
What I love about it is that it’s really upbeat, totally aspirational
Throughout the day the young entrepreneurs would disappear upstairs to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win up to £500 funding to develop their product or service.
Judge and Lambeth council cabinet member for jobs and growth Jack Hopkins said: “This is my third Big Idea and it gets better every year. What I love about it is that it’s really upbeat, totally aspirational. It’s about seeing young people have great ideas and want to take over the world. There are some people who are going to make an absolute fortune. I am confident that they are going to come back and give back to train up the next generation.”
Capita corporate social responsibility manager Juliet Jones said: “We are committed to investing in the communities where we work. When a young entrepreneur comes to us and wants a mentor, we are able to find a match with someone with the right skills to help develop their business. It’s at the core of our business to be doing the right thing where we work.”
Decordeva Dixon, the “Your Big Idea” 2013 first-prize winner and founder of Starbuzz Gastronomie, provided catering for this year’s event. “There were times I wanted to give up, but with the support of mentors from Your Big Idea I kept going,” he said. In 2015 his company was runner-up in the Lambeth Country Show food trader awards.
As the day came to a close, entrepreneurs found out how much funding they had secured and Juliet Jones reflected on the success of Your Big Idea: “I think the fact that some of our entrepreneurs have now got successful businesses and we are using them as suppliers for this event, demonstrates the sustainability of Your Big Idea. This, coupled with the fact that some of them go on to win awards, is fantastic,” she said.