The project was designed to support student enterprise and teach participants about the importance of online sales. The winning entrant was Mental Health Nursing student Mari Tyson - who won the £600 prize money with her new venture, Sakura Health UK.
Mari sells a range of Japanese-influenced therapy products which contain natural, rather than chemical, ingredients. Mari is half-Japanese herself, and she was first inspired to start the business by her sister, who creates natural products at her home in Australia.
Mari explained: "Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese. My sister's name is Sakura - and I love cherry blossom imagery and what it represents in Japanese culture - so the name works really well!"
Having now started to create her own products, using UK-sourced ingredients and her sister's recipes, Mari can see the potential for her products to be used to improve both mental and physical health.
One example is the magnesium oil spray in the Sakura Health UK range. Mari explained that many people suffer from magnesium deficiency, and this spray is really easy to use to treat the problem, as it can be absorbed straight through the skin.
Mari talked about how the business competition helped her: "When I found out about the competition, I realised it would be the perfect opportunity to get my business started - as I could take advantage of the support and mentoring offered at the same time.
"It also gave me a great chance to 'road test' some business strategies; to find out exactly which products customers prefer, and to troubleshoot potential problems at an early stage."With the £600 prize money, Mari says, she is now able to buy ingredients in greater bulk, saving money and therefore increasing her profit margins.
Earlier this year, the Enterprise Development Hub at Middlesex (EDH@MDX) was awarded funding from Middlesex student development fund to launch a series of online selling workshops and an online sales competition.
Middlesex Graduate Teaching Assistant Steven Stott ran the competition and mentored the participants. He also runs his own successful eBay business.
He said: "The online marketplace is growing so quickly. Some 11% of worldwide sales now take place online; and in the UK, that figure is expected to grow to 20% in the next decade. It's so important that designers and businesses know how to make the most of online opportunities.
"It will be really exciting to learn from this, the pilot year of the competition, and go on to making it an even bigger and better event next year."
Dean of Middlesex University Business School, Anna Kyprianou, commented: "I am delighted that the competition has attracted and inspired students - including the winner - from across the University.
"Congratulations to all the finalists. They have all demonstrated that they have exciting products to offer, and Mari's products, in particular, are ones I would be really tempted to buy myself."The other competition finalists were Advertising, PR and Media graduate Huyen Dao Thanh for her bow tie business Blowtie, Business and Marketing graduate Shaquela Bryant for her fashion accessories business Rare Glow UK, and Business Management Ana Trincanu for her fashion accessories business Lady Boutique Best. i