Current student Bradley Poku-Amankwah and St Andrews graduate Ry Morgan both recently competed in the fifth annual National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) Varsity Pitch Competition.
The competition took place on Tuesday 28 October and drew over 300 applicants, who were divided into six industry categories. Five applicants from each group are selected to move forward to the semi-finals, and pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges. Judging was based on level of innovation, market viability and financial viability. The ultimate winner will receive £10,000 to move their business forwards.
Both Mr Poku-Amankwah and Mr Morgan were placed in the ‘Mustard Seed’ category, for businesses that “seek to solve a social or environmental problem undeserved by government or industry today.”
Mr Poku-Amankwah’s pitch was selected from the Mustard Seed category to move on to the finals in November. He stated that he found out about NACUE through attending an enterprise Thursday event at the University and that he hopes “that more Saints will take up entrepreneurship as there are tonnes of opportunities to do so out there.”
Mr Poku-Amankwah, who grew up in Ghana, states that his business, Smart Fuel, was founded as a “direct response to some of the developmental issues” the country faces. He said: “I strongly believe in using business as a means of tackling global social issues, and that’s what led me to establish Smart Fuel.” His plan involves taking used cooking oil from places such as homes, restaurants and hotels in Ghana, converting it into bio-diesel and then releasing it back into the market. In entering the Varsity Pitch Competition, he hopes to gain the funding needed to transport the necessary equipment from England to Ghana.
Mr Poku-Amankwah’s aspiration for this product is to spread of Smart Fuel across the entirety of Africa. He said: “I envision Smart Fuel as a network of operations scattered across the African continent one day” and that he “would also like to expand into providing eco-friendly consultation to homes and businesses in the region.” When asked how the project had affected his University life, he noted that he was not always able to join in on nights out, but “it is a sacrifice that I was prepared to make.”
In Mr Morgan’s pitch for his company Yomp, he described it as, “a product which gets more people cycling more often.” He said: “essentially we create a software that employers use to encourage their workforce to cycle to work more frequently.” The Cycle Hub, which records data of members’ cycles, is accessible both online and as a smartphone app. It tracks things such as journeys made, calories burned, and carbon offset. In order to deliver incentive to cyclists, Mr Morgan describes the “gameification” of the application, which includes leader boards and rewards as you rack up bike miles, such as discounts and vouchers at retailers. He said that Yomp “makes people happier, healthier” and also has a positive impact on the planet.
His idea for Yomp came from the introduction of Barclays hire bikes in London. He states that London employers “were advocating cycling to staff, but weren’t offering any form of training, equipment or maintenance.” Yomp is a way of getting employers engaged in cycling, and is expanding into other forms of exercise such as running and swimming. Their aim is “to nudge workforces out of sedentary lifestyles, proven to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and boost sustainability.”
Mr Morgan is seeking to expand outside of the UK and “establish Yomp as a leader in the employee wellness space.”