Queen’s University Graduate Lewis Loane wins UK final of Emerging Entrepreneurs programme and £30k business funding
Queen’s University Belfast Graduate Lewis Loane is a winner of the 2020 Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme. Lewis competed in Tuesdays online final, a pitching competition involving student start-ups, winning £30k funding and other supports.
Electronics engineer and musician Lewis has created Signal Optimiser, technology that gives the best sound quality from an instrument that’s plugged into an amp. Lewis was up against 8 other finalists in this annual competition that attracts applications from around the UK. His final business pitch impressed the judging panel, earning him £30,000 seed funding and other business supports.
Lewis set up his business TORANN after his own experience playing electric guitar left him often frustrated at the sound that emerged from the amp. He is now at an advanced stage of developing a prototype and aims to use the winning prize funding to bring his product to market early next year.
This marks another significant part of the young entrepreneurs business journey, including winning the Catalyst Invent programme 2019 as well as the Ireland Funds business plan competition. He had early support from the Students Union Enterprise Support unit in taking his concept further, and also from the University lean Launchpad programme.
According to Lewis “This has been a really amazing experience, competing against so many other great early stage businesses and presenting to judges like Theo Paphitis and Warwick Hill. Being picked as a winner is a tremendous feeling and recognition for my venture. I really believe in the transformative potential of Signal Optimiser and it’s a massive boost to have £30,000 funding to help take it to the next level. Its great that I have been able to combine my love of music with my University studies to develop this idea and create a business start-up. I had a lot of help from the Enterprise Student Union team at Queen’s who gave me great advice when I started out, and helped me enter and prepare for competitions like this.”
Kat Maguire, Enterprise SU manager at Queen’s Student’s Union commented. “We are all really excited that Lewis has won the final, the whole team have been willing him to win. Enterprise SU assisted Lewis from the outset, and helped guide him through applications for this and other programmes.
Lewis has worked really hard on his business, and he is a great example of how students can develop entrepreneurial ideas and avail of the many supports for start-ups. Backing from Santander for innovative programmes like this is really important and a valuable incentive at an early stage’.
The live virtual final took place on 29 September 2020, where the eight finalists pitched to a panel of experience judges. Two winning entries were chosen, receiving £30,000 of seed funding, mentoring and a fully funded intern to drive their business.