Hatfield student wins £50,000 investment to start business

PUBLISHED: 16:17 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:17 21 February 2017

Ben Spurgeon, the winner.

Ben Spurgeon, the winner.

Archant

A student from the University of Hertfordshire has won £50,000 as an investment for a start-up catering business that will be located on the Hatfield campus.

Ben Spurgeon, who is studying music and sound design technology at the university, won the competition after impressing the judges in a Dragon’s Den style competition.

The Enterprise team (part of the careers and employment service at the university), worked alongside Office and General (O&G), Uliving and Food Hertfordshire, to run the competition for students.

O&G, the university’s long term partner for facilities management, offered the winning student up to a £50,000 investment for the project as part of a commitment to invest in five student start-up businesses over ten years.

Competition entrants were required to develop the business idea, and the finalists pitched these to a panel of judges where they were questioned on their business plans and financial forecasts.

The finalists also took part in a networking lunch, where O&G sponsors asked them about their business strategies.

Ben’s idea for his food van was based around simple, tasty food including tacos, hot dogs, burritos and wraps.

As well as the large investment, the opportunity provides a contract to trade on campus, and the ability to take the van outside the contracted hours of the university to external events.

Ben said: “The University of Hertfordshire’s Catering Pitch Initiative presented me with the perfect opportunity to start my own company and to work for myself.

“The support and guidance I received throughout allowed me to grow my idea whilst expanding my entrepreneurial and business skills.

“I’ve had a huge range of advice and information from industry professionals that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise and it is an experience I greatly appreciate.

“From here onwards I’m going to be having a few very busy months. We are looking to launch the new business at the start of September ready for all of our new fresher students.

“If you’re anywhere near the Oval come down in September and say hello.”

David Jones, general manager of Food Hertfordshire, said: “It has been a fascinating project to be involved in, with the real work just about to start to mentor and help Ben start up his business.

“All of the shortlisted candidates presented fascinating business proposals and demonstrated true innovation and a passion to succeed.

“The calibre of the submissions was exceptionally high and I’m sure that those who were unsuccessful on this occasion have learnt and will benefit from the experience in their future career.

“The entrepreneurship and drive from these University of Hertfordshire students I’m sure will lead them to succeed in the future.

“I very much look forward to helping Ben achieve his vision and can’t wait to get the business moving forward.”

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