Entrepreneurs of the future show business acumen at CityStarters Weekend

Three-day event for innovators combined team building, pitching, and designing their own business.

More than 100 students from across City, University of London put their entrepreneurial skills to the test at the CityStarters Weekend.

Hosted by Bayes Business School, students from all five schools were selected to pitch their ideas at the hybrid event which celebrates innovation and start-ups.

In total, 21 business ideas were pitched in person on Friday night, and the top nine were voted for by students and progressed to the next stage. Teams were formed around those ideas, with students from across the university supporting their peers. The event culminated with eight pitches in front of three leading judges, and prizes being handed out to the winners.

The winner was Prachi Jhaveri, (BSc Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship) who created Citrus Cycle, which aims to create skin care products from wasted orange peels collected from organic juice stores. Citrus Cycle aims to make better use of the 3.8 million tonnes of citrus peel which goes to waste every year. The students discussed a marketing strategy, with 400 bottles (65ml) created using 25 litres of orange peels and other ingredients. The products would be sold online, in pop-up stores and in partnership stores.

Prachi was supported by Elbert Jonathan Salim, Nikita Gondalia, Paris Papacharalambous, Ammar Abbas, and Ana Hysenaj.

Team Objet, led by Sophie Collinet (BSc International Business), finished as runners-up, with the platform helping people create a space to call home by offering bespoke furniture to rent. The final two prizes went to Clarice Metzger (Full-time MBA), leader of Our House, whichoffers an inclusive space for underrepresented professionals in London to build community, upskill, and grow, and Samir Bastreghi (BSc Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship), leader of Autonomie+, which provides services offered by volunteers to mobility-reduced people.

The three judges were: Emily Fitch-Deeley, co-founder of Seedrs, which helps different types of investors to invest in businesses; Veronique Rapetti, Head of learning and engagement at ASPIRE, a learning platform with a focus on practical, real-world learning; and Michelangelo Valtancoli, early-stage investor at Stride.VC, a venture capital and private equity company, founder of the educational podcast for student entrepreneurs ‘Almost Founders’ and Bayes alumnus (Business Management 2021).

The weekend also featured five presentations from inspiring entrepreneurs and academics, including City alumni, such as Joey Li(MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation, 2019) and Nina Ricafort (MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation, 2015). Joey is the co-founder of Leiho, which connects products to vulnerable communities through sharing, and Nina is the product manager at Thread, which uses AI to recommend clothes in a style, size and budget.

Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes and CityStarters organiser, said: “It was inspirational to see such exciting ideas from this next generation of entrepreneurs. Students threw themselves into the challenge, met plenty of people they may otherwise never have met, and presented some excellent ideas to the judging panel. I am convinced they have a bright future in business. I also want to thank the mentors, many of whom were Bayes alumni, for volunteering their time to mentor students.”

Professor Andre Spicer, Interim Dean of Bayes Business School, said: “At Bayes we take entrepreneurship seriously. We top the rankings for our entrepreneurship education. Part of the reason for this is we offer student an entire ecosystem to support their ideas. City Starters is an important part of that. Our students show they can build a successful business from the ground up – in just one weekend. I am excited to see how the businesses which were created during the CityStarters weekend grow in the years ahead.”

Professor Costas Andriopoulos, Associate Dean for Entrepreneurship, said: “The future of innovation is in safe hands judging by the results from CityStarters in 2021. The students showed they had real business brains, designing ideas that spanned across the innovative spectrum. I congratulate each of them for their involvement in a hugely successful event.”