Prize-winning students boost business ideas with Spanish adventure

From pitching tents to ideas for new enterprises, University students enjoyed the opportunity to boost their business plans on an action-packed adventure in Spain.

Ten entrepreneurs studying at the University of Chester, including 26-year-old Liam Boyle and 20-year-old Emma Lindsay from Holywell in Flintshire, headed to Almeria in Spain at the end of May after winning places on the Santander Universities UK Venture Adventure.

Liam, who won the trip’s pitching competition, and Emma were joined by: Kieran Lloyd; Molly Bowman; Bhanuprashanth Karna; Piyush Choudhari; Jade McArdle; Marcin Jasinski; Chih-An Lin and Jemima Antwi.

A mix of exciting challenges helped to test and develop their ideas, ranging from non-acidic vitamin gummies and ways to transform recycling to electric scooter hire and magnetic levitation for induction cooking.

The 10 study courses across the University including International Business, Business Management, Archaeology, Product Design and Engineering, helping them to analyse and evaluate their ideas from different perspectives. They were also joined overseas by two students from the University of Almeria (UAL).

The four-day trip featured kayaking, camping, visits to caves and the dam in Almeria, UAL, as well as tours of businesses including Biorizon which is focused on technology development for biologically-based aromatics and is one of the biggest companies in Europe.

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

Four winners were chosen:

  • First place – Liam Boyle – Vincovits, a non-acidic vitamin C gummy manufacturing organisation, already running
  • Second place – Marcin Jasinski – Rapid, an electric scooter hire service.
  • Third place – Jade McArdle – (name of business to be decided), fake tan remover.
  • Fourth place – Piyush Choudhari – Lazy Friends app, which aims to support learning.

Dr Connie Hancock, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Management at Chester Business School said:

“Students participating in the Venture Adventure this year, experienced an exciting programme of visits to sustainable businesses, engaged in business planning workshops and completed a wide range of entrepreneurial tasks. This study trip provided students with opportunities of a lifetime, culminating with a business pitching competition on the beach at Almeria. Our Almeria Entrepreneurial Venture Adventure will live long in the memories of all participating students.”

Dr Henry Sidsaph, Lecturer at the Business School and its Co-Leader for the Venture Adventure 2022 programme, explained more about the aims and impact:

“We wanted to challenge our entrepreneurs by placing them in a demanding environment and measuring how they performed. On top of adventurous activities and insights from some of Almeria’s world-leading companies; the entrepreneurs honed their business ideas in a growth mindset. It was encouraging to see how far the students developed in such a short period of time. We’ve already seen a lot of positivity and immediate action from them as a result of the Venture Adventure.”

Fran Shollo, also a Lecturer at the Business School and Co-Leader for the programme, added:

“The students were outstanding in their ideas and their enthusiasm. They gave their all and really pushed themselves out of their comfort zones with the activities. As in business, when you have an idea and make it happen, you can look back and be proud of taking that leap and all you’ve accomplished.

“I would like to thank the sponsors for making the trip so memorable and motivational: Santander Universities UK; Hugo, Carmen and Carlos from UAL; Omar and Ismael, students from UAL who joined us; AM Clothing; Graham Shapiro, the University’s Entrepreneur in Residence; Biorizon; Oro del Desierto, an olive oil producer we really enjoyed visiting, and Silvia and everyone at Civitas Accommodation for hosting us.

“We’re also extremely grateful to our colleagues in the Department of Management and the wider Chester Business School and to Rebecca Falcon, Programme Leader for Product Design who is ensuring students can develop their entrepreneurship and encouraging them to take part in initiatives such as the Venture Adventure. We loved having Product Design students Molly and Kieran with us on the Adventure bringing new viewpoints and skills.”

Hugo González, Director of International Promotion at UAL said: “It was fantastic to work with the whole Venture Adventure team (the amazing Fran, Henry, Connie, and their students). Multidisciplinary, multinational, multilingual and multicultural were not just characteristics of this Venture Adventure project, but skills that all good entrepreneurs need. We’re so excited that UAL and UoC students had an intensive week to work together, and we are looking forward to future collaborations of this and other types.”

Pitch winner, Liam Boyle, an International Business Management student currently on an entrepreneurial year out, said:

“No-one could have prepared me for how fun and interesting Venture Adventure 2022 would be. I had the best time, met some great people, learned a lot about types of sustainable businesses (and almost got a tan.) Thank you Santander, AM Custom Clothing, the UoC Business School and the wonderful staff.”

Marcin Jasinski, an International Business Management student added: “Taking part in Venture Adventure 2022 was a huge privilege and unforgettable experience. It allowed me to meet great people, expand my knowledge about the business environment, think creatively and leave my comfort zone.

“Almeria is a beautiful place with a great history, and because of the Venture Adventure I was able to discover it and do things which I would never have done. Thank you, University of Chester and Santander, for giving me this opportunity and I will definitely apply again next year.”

Product Design student Molly Bowman said the Venture Adventure had helped her to “see my ideas from a new perspective”; Emma Lindsay, a Business Management student, described the experience as “amazing” and Accounting and Finance student Jemima Antwi, shared how it was a memorable and unique experience where she “learned so much from all the students and lecturers”.

Omar Diaz, a student from UAL, echoed the positive sentiments: “This experience has allowed me to develop entrepreneurial skills in team work, adaptability and communication while getting to know such amazing, creative, passionate and adventurous people. I’ll always remember this time I spent on the Venture Adventure 2022.”

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Lisa Baker is the Editor of International Business News. As the Owner of Need to See IT Publishing, Lisa is an experienced business and technology journalist and publisher.