New wave of entrepreneurs demonstrate ability at CityStarters Weekend

Students from City, University of London and Bayes Business School pitch and build ideas over three-day event.

The next generation of businesses leaders showed the future is bright following a weekend of entrepreneurial breakthroughs and learning at the CityStarters Weekend.

The annual event, hosted by Bayes Business School, welcomed students from across City, University of London to pitch their ideas and take the next steps in developing a business idea.

Students with expertise across entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, brand strategy and more worked together and formed teams before building and developing their products and launching their start-up projects. This began on Friday night, with nine business ideas from the 19 60-second pitches progressed over the weekend before a final pitch to three leading judges.

The winner was Jonathon Ryder-Weldon (MSc in Data Science), who created Spacify, a digital marketplace designed to connect ‘space seekers’ with ‘space owners’. While the trend towards flexible working has brought about huge improvements in work-life balance, there are also downsides: disruptions, distractions, a lack of human interaction, and a lack of dedicated working spaces. On this flipside, there are venues all around the country sitting unused for large parts of the day – hotel ballrooms, pub function rooms, community halls, and more. Spacify aims connect these two groups, and in doing so bring low cost, ultra-flexible, ultra-local coworking venues to communities around the country.

“It was really gratifying to see both the idea itself and the hard work of the team be recognised by the judges, and it has definitely encouraged me to pursue it further," said Jonathon. "The whole weekend was a fantastic experience, and I’m very grateful to City and Aurore for hosting, and to the industry professionals and founders who volunteered their time to coach us.”

Jonathon was supported by Revneet Bassi (BSc in Business Management), Pornwan Daramas (MSc in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership), Gozde Kadioglu (PhD in Psychology), Vishwas Teerth (MSc in Digital Supply Chain Management) and Nguyen Ngan (BSc in Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship).

Winning team The winning team, led by Jonathon Ryder-Weldon, centre

Finishing in second place was Studio Spirits, led by Lucia Ravano (MSc in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership), which creates bespoke spirits for occasions through a marketing and branding tool.

Lucia, who also participated in 2021 as part of a team, said: “Taking the founder role and managing a team made the experience even more rewarding. CityStarters allowed me to finally invest in an idea I've been working on for a year and, with my teammates help, I have been able to take the idea behind Studio Spirits to a whole new level.”

The final prize went to Team Wealthology, led by Jaanki Thakrar (BSc in Banking and International Finance), which works to create tools and resources for international students to build a brighter financial future in the UK.

“It was amazing to see that so many people believed in the idea and all of the work that the team had put in over the weekend had paid off,” said Jaanki. “I feel extremely grateful to be provided with such an opportunity and we can't wait to see where this journey takes us.”

Aurore speaks Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship, speaks to the audience

Other ideas developed over the weekend included ways of improving financial learning in schools and making mortgages more accessible to Generation Z.

The business proposals were judged by Bayes alumna Joey Li, co-founder of Leiho – a social impact brand that helps provide basic essentials for people in need, Michael Ogunmosunle, co-founder of Sweet Something Ltd – an events decoration company, and Ralph La Fontaine, Head of Student Entrepreneurship at City, University of London.

Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes and CityStarters organiser, said: “This was more than an event for students with great ideas to kick start their entrepreneurial journey. I was thrilled to offer students a golden opportunity to meet and learn from each other as well as from our mentors and speakers, who were entrepreneurs and investors themselves. It is my hope that the start-up weekend lasts longer than a weekend and I can't wait to see what the future holds for these very engaged students.”

Professor Andre Spicer, Dean of Bayes Business School, said: “Having the aptitude to create and develop a progressive business idea over a weekend takes a great deal of endeavour and should not be underestimated. Bayes is one of best places in Europe to be a budding entrepreneur and a big part of that is we offer students an environment to support their ideas, with events such as CityStarters. I am excited to see how these businesses evolve and grow in the years ahead.”

Ralph La Fontaine, Head of Student Entrepreneurship at City, University of London: “At City we pride ourselves on our ability to innovate and develop ideas, and the students have excelled in their creativity over the weekend. Working together to build a product is a vital component of any idea and there were examples of team building and fresh thinking over the course of the weekend. I congratulate each of them for their ideas and wish them well in the future.”


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