Seven students from the University of Lincoln had to impress a panel of four judges with the winner receiving the prize of a support package worth £5,000. The Enterprise@Lincoln building played host to a Dragon’s Den-style competition on Wednesday, 14th April. “Perfect Pitch” was designed by Enterprise@Lincoln to give the entrepreneurs of the future the opportunity to have their ideas heard.

Gina Davies, Graduate Enterprise Intern at Enterprise@Lincoln, said the competition was about finding creative ideas: “The idea behind Perfect Pitch was to find those really imaginative student business ideas that we know are out there and bring them in to the public domain via a Dragon’s Den-style competition. Although we were offering a substantial prize to the winner, we also wanted to get the message out about Enterprise@Lincoln.”

Students were asked to come up with “an innovative and scaleable idea,” which Enterprise@Lincoln could help to support and grow in the future. Davies says the prize offered more than just money: “The support package prize included almost £3000 in cash over a ten-month period, as well as the opportunity to gain free office space or a virtual tenancy, branding, marketing and website support and mentoring, resources to networking and management skills alongside a business bank account and initial training.”

The judges were faced with ideas that included a book exchange website, a food delivery service and a multi-functional work station. The panel came from a variety of different business backgrounds to find the best innovative, viable and well-researched business idea.

The jugdes included Andy Harsley, of Dragon’s Den” fame, who said everyone had done well and he had seen some good ideas and spreadsheet designs: “The candidates are inexperienced and need help, but they haven’t run businesses before or been out in the big world and so the quality of the presentations was acceptable.”

When asked what the judges were looking for today, Harsley said that it’s not all about the product, as the people aspect is important too. Harsley went on to offer his advice to students who are wanting to develop their ideas: “Don’t rush into it. If it’s a good idea today, it will still be a good idea in six months.” Fellow judge Sarah Walker from Business Link, added that it’s about commitment and carrying out the proper research is essential.

Second year drama student, Anthony Januszewski pitched his website to the judges and supporters in the audience. Januszewski began his project, which allows people to find sports facilities in their local area, after he struggled to find a local basketball court in Lincoln: “I rang the council and after being passed on to several people I thought ‘why is there not a service online where people can search for facilities’.”

Although not a website specifically designed to bring communities together, he says the website does promote inner-city friendliness within sport. Januszewski was nervous before his presentation but went on to say that he thought it went well: “It’s completely different looking at yourself in the mirror when you’re practising to being in front of the judges who all look professional. If I take anything away from today it will be connections and ways in which I can promote my website.

“The whole concept of Enterprise@Lincoln and what the university offers needs to be promoted. They need to promote what they do and the opportunities available because we’ll all go into the real world and some will start up business and Enterprise is a good place to start, ” Januszewski added.

Speaking after the competition, Davies said that she was proud of the event’s success and, after initally having to whittle down eleven applicants to seven, she described the final product as amazing: “All the presentations were polished, they dealt with the [hard] questions effectively and I think with a few bits tweaked each of them could go away with a decent business model.”

Enterprise@Lincoln are considering holding the competition annually and Davies thinks that it has the potential of producing some of the best businesses in Lincoln in the future.

— The winner of Perfect Pitch has been announced as Sophie Bulgin.