This article was written by Jared Ruddy. A Business School Alumni from the 2016 Full-Time MBA programme, and co-founder of strategy and product innovation agency, Think Plan Thrive.
It’s early Saturday morning. While most of London is in bed, future entrepreneurial talent is arriving at Imperial College Business School for an intense two-day business development hack. This is Founders of the Future’s first event of the year.
One hundred students gathered at the kick off session to share stories and ideas. Pairing off was fast and furious, with founders taking the stage for minute pitches to form teams. What struck me about this event was the sheer diversity: from Noa – a 17 year old with a thriving babysitting business – to Greenr a social media platform aimed at reducing personal carbon emissions.
We’ve found that building strong foundations by understanding a customer and market can stop the ‘fail fast’ culture that’s so destructive for young entrepreneurs’ confidence and ambitions.
The Founders of the Future mission is “to uncover, nurture and guide the most promising entrepreneurial talent in technology with the purpose of significantly increasing the number of start-ups created and which will have a strong chance of success.” At Think Plan Thrive, we can relate to this mission. We’ve found that building strong foundations by understanding a customer and market can stop the ‘fail fast’ culture that’s so destructive for young entrepreneurs’ confidence and ambitions.
We took this sentiment to the teams. Following introductions, we formed our groups and went to chat, preparing for a pitch battle in 24 hours’ time. I was privileged to be a part of the ‘Debt Angels’ team, comprising of Byron – a current Imperial MBA; Eric, an Investment Banker specialising in debt and Gigi, a funding expert from Seedrs. We quickly developed and refined our concept, sizing the opportunity and working through how the idea might work.
Through this amazing real-life exercise, teams not only developed strong bonds and great ideas, but learnt too: sessions from EY on financial modelling and Goodwin on term sheet negotiation provided some great insight from industry experts. Sunday was competition day. Start-ups were separated into ‘early’ and ‘mature’ in the first round of judging. By the afternoon, the groups came together and the finalists were ready to pitch to the judges. Competition was tough: there were some really great ideas across both early and mature teams. A list of finalists from the pitch session can be found at the bottom of this article.
There is of course only one winner and that was Corby – an audio Evernote, powered by Alexa AI, and hacked together by their team in just two days. However – this is ‘Founders of the Future’ and only the start for many of these businesses. Not only did many come out with much stronger, focussed ideas but stronger teams too. An incredible weekend and an incredible event. I’ll leave you with a quote from Byron McCaughey that sums up our experience perfectly. Thank you Imperial and Future Founders: The Founders of the Future event at Imperial College was a great opportunity to move our start-up (Debt Angels) forward with the aid of some very talented people. The idea pitch to an esteemed panel was a fitting end to the weekend, providing further direction and advice as we move forward with creating a viable business.”
You can read more about what we’re doing at Think Plan Thrive here.
Finalists from pitch session
- Corby – Listen to news articles later that day but audio – Team: Calvin Dudek, Oliver Nash,
- Mepiphany – Mepiphany an online platform that helps secondary and sixth form students better define their career aspirations and lay the foundation to get their dream job – Team: Amaan Banwait, Jake O’Keeffe, Ana Martinez Valls, James Da costa, Shwetal Shah
- Rivet – Using cognitive behavioural therapy for attention training – Team: Alice Tang, Fabian Zwiener, Liberty, Jacklin, Pablo Lubroth, Rania Svoronou, Dem Gerolemou, Shyam Anjaria, Jawwad Farid
- Life – Skin cancer detection app – Team: Pahini Pandya, Vanya V, Stefano Vaccino, Amaury Leproux, Dany Tello
- OGMA – Learn languages by reading whatever you want – Team: Thomas Clayson, Jamie Furlong, Artur Safaryan, Ahmed Hassan
- Greenr – Social media platform aimed at reducing personal carbon emissions – Team: Suzy McClintock, Mohad Malik, Nadal Sarkytbayev, Graeme Johnstone, Jack Wang
- DRESSGANG – A fashion rental platform to rent high end fashion for a fraction of the retail price – Team: Natalia Kazakli, Anam Zaman , Isabella Gaupmann
- Noa’s Team – Hyper-local babysitting marketplace: connecting babysitters with parents – Team: Noa Blane Damelin, Michael Healy
- Pow – Making e-bike cheaper than taking the bus – Team: Mohammed Shah, Rafael Ballestiero