Last month saw the long-awaited final of the QUB Dragons’ Den competition. After a competitive application process, a quick pitch round, and weeks of workshops and tailored mentoring, the competition’s final round was postponed just one day before it was due to take place. The Enterprise SU team were then tasked to come up with a creative new way of letting our innovative finalists pitch for a share of the coveted £15k prize pot.
The ‘socially distanced’ QUB Dragons’ Den finals went live on the 29th of June, when Dragons and industry stakeholders received video recordings of each finalist’s ten-minute pitch. Video recording software was used so that each team could record their pitch remotely, using a screen-sharing feature to show their presentations, and webcams to talk on screen. Each judge then had one week to watch our students’ pitches and jot down their questions for Q&A five days later. Friday 3rd of July saw a day’s intensive Q&A session in which ten student-led teams were questioned over Zoom by our five judges, each student trying to convince our Dragons of their business plans and why they should walk away with a share of the £15k investment. Each student was judged based on the strength of the individual or team to take the idea forward, the validity of the problem they were addressing, the viability of the solution they had come up with, the quality of their market research, their plans moving forward, and their need for Dragons’ Den funding.
The panel of ‘Dragons’ was made up of five industry professionals, alongside insight from QUBIS Spinout Manager, Charlie Harington. Each student team was judged by Partner at Cavanagh Kelly, Catherine Martin, Partner of Tughan’s Solicitors, Andrew Kirke, Senior Consultant at MCS Group, Sara Mitchell, Business Relationship Director at Santander, Jamie Foulkes, and Managing Director of Linkubator, John McKee.
On the day of the final Q&A session, students and Dragons were joined by ten local industry stakeholders, watching and listening in support of our entrepreneurial students; TechStart Ventures, The Creator Fund, Raise Ventures, Invest NI, Ormeau Business Park, Amazon Web Services, Santander, Tech Nation, Queen’s University Students’ Union, and partner in sponsorship, Engineers in Business. The £15k prize pot was shared between four lucky winners; each whom the judges believed to have viable, innovative, and high-potential business ideas. They were:
Naomi McGregor with MoveTru; a product that provides a full body reboot through individual information to remove injury pains from incorrect physical form.
Elizabeth Gilligan with Material Evolution: a business that aims to reduce carbon emissions through re-purposing waste for the construction industry.
Graham Curry with Handicaddie: a digital product made for the golf industry that allows players to book caddies online in advance of their round of golf
Peter Gilleece with Forest Track: a startup that reduces that plastic waste by creating a new material made from 100% chicken feathers which can replace single use plastics.
A spokesperson from Enterprise SU said “We’re so extremely proud of our students for, not only getting to this stage of a tough competition, but also for battering on through challenging and uncertain times to take part in our final round, which wasn’t only postponed, but took place in a completely different format too.”
Finalist and winner, Naomi McGregor shared her praise on social media, commenting: “Fantastic QUB Dragons Den Final by Enterprise SU & Students. Thanks to the sponsors and judges for today, with a special thanks to Fran Morelli for organising such a great event,” while an Invest NI representative added “I really enjoyed the session, very calm and collective group of young entrepreneurs and excellent concepts.”
Enterprise SU would like to thank each student that applied and participated and congratulate them on their innovative and intelligent concepts. The team would also like to thank all sponsors, observers, and startup champions for their continued support, particularly MCS Group, Engineers in Business, Tughan’s Solicitors, Santander Universities, and Cavanagh Kelly without whom the competition would not be possible (in any format!)