Young Entrepreneurs Wow the Judges with their Perfected Presentations and Innovative Ideas

Young Start-up Talent judges and finalists Solent 2016

On September 8th, the Young Start-up Talent (YST) final five candidates pitched their refined business plans at the Ocean Village Innovation Centre, Southampton, to a panel of judges in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event. All were hoping to win a prize fund worth up to £50k worth of business products and services. The prize fund is donated by sponsors and local businesses to help ensure the lucky winner will have all the assistance they need to kick-start their new business.

Before reaching this point, the candidates have already worked their way through different business workshops, as well as a speed-networking event, which involved local business professionals grilling and feeding back their worldly wisdom and expertise to the young entrepreneurs on their business ideas.

YST Solent judges 2016 – Left to right (Chris Allington, Lorraine Nugent, Matt Turner, Ben Towers, Simon Finch, Zara Hogg and Michael Dyer

The judges consisted of seven business individuals, including; Chris Allington – Managing Director of Oxford Innovation, Simon Finch – Relationship Manager for the NatWest Bank, Zara Hogg – Partner of Wilkins Kennedy, Michael Dyer – Director and Head of the Corporate and Commercial Department of Verisona Law, Ben Towers – the teenage Founder of Towers Design and CEO of Social Marley, Lorraine Nugent – Managing Director of Media Word Waves and founding partner of Young-Start up Talent, and Matt Turner, a fellow founding partner and CEO of the Creative Group.

YST Solent 2016 filming Dragons Den at Ocean Village Innovation Centre

One of the judges, Chris Allington, commented on the initiative stating, “This is one of the most exciting business projects I’m involved with, mainly because it solely focuses on young people. I’ve been really impressed by the quality of the business plans presented, and it is clear to me that even if the candidates are not successful in this competition, there is no doubt they will have great success in their future business career.”

Another judge, Simon Finch of NatWest, also added: “It has been a privilege to witness the progression of these candidates throughout the process. The standard has been very high”.

YST finalists Solent 2016 – (left to right – John Wheal, Casper Nielson, Harry Phelan, Calvin Macleod and Ming Wu


The five finalists included:

Calvin MacLeod, a man passionate about his business, Life Beacon, a mobile base application that provides tools for users and patients to manage their medical health by providing reminders, calendars, notes, prescriptions and a day-to-day diary. On the night of the event, Calvin commented, “I’ve found the whole experience invaluable. In fact, it’s because of this process that I recently secured a job in business development!”

Casper Nielson, who is planning on starting a new mobile phone network, One Beyond. Casper hopes to become a key player in the UK mobile market within the next five years. “This process has enabled me to meet other like-minded individuals who understand the desire to work for yourself.

Harry Phelan, with his business Studio H – a modern take on a traditional barbershop, which specialises in unique cutting styles and shaving techniques. Harry spoke about the whole process very highly, stating, “Young Start-up Talent has offered me the chance to grow my business a lot faster than I could have done on my own. The process has really made me think about the potential of my business, rather than just focusing on being an in-house barber.”

John Wheal, with his business Group Hub, has developed an online space that helps to simplify the management and organisation of groups, clubs and societies and added “The feedback during the process has been invaluable and has prepared me for pitching my business in now and in the future.”

Ming Wu, who hopes to start an experimental lifestyle brand and design studio called UU-U Design which specialises in wearable technology with affordable fashion jewellery in an up-and-coming market. “During the process I have been extremely motivated and become far more focused and driven to get my business ideas of the ground.

Judge, Michael Dyer of Verisona Law, commended the finalists as he explained how he was “extremely impressed by the improvements in the delivery, content and overall aspects of their businesses” since the last time he saw them at the semi finals in July.

Special thanks go to all of the judges and to the behind-the-scenes team, which consisted of Richard May, Alice Thorn and Rob Nunn, who helped the candidates prepare for their final pitches whilst easing their nerves, as well as the amazing team who filmed the evening. The Young Start-up Talent team would also like to thank the Ocean Village Innovation Centre for allowing them to use the building to film the formal presentations.

The candidates now wait with baited breath until the chosen winner is announced at the Showcase at the Novotel Hotel in Southampton on October 20th 6.30pm. The judge’s decision will determine which young entrepreneur will win the prize fund worth up to £50k of business products and services.

To find out more, please visit:

Sponsors Involved in this year’s Solent Initiative Include:

Oxford Innovation


Social Marley

Wilkins Kennedy

Verisona Law

The News Portsmouth

Media Word Waves

Creative Pod

All Star Marketing

1st Computers Services

Novotel Hotel Southampton

Splash Display

Portsmouth Technolopole

Fareham Innovation Centre

Ocean Village Innovation Centre

Little Kanga


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