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Entrepreneurial Barnet Competition 2021

Entrepreneurial Barnet Competition winners urge residents and students to enter this year’s contest

Two Entrepreneurial Barnet Competition winners have urged residents and students to enter this year’s contest – titled What’s Your Big Idea? - and not miss out on the opportunity to win thousands of pounds and raise the profile of their business.

Entrepreneurs Annabel Ashalley-Anthony and Marie Farmer, who won the competition last year and in 2018 respectively, have spoken about how the contest proved an “invaluable experience”.

Students from Middlesex University and Barnet and Southgate College, along with local residents, have the chance to showcase their entrepreneurial ideas, be coached by experts and win funding to develop their business.

Since it was launched by Middlesex University in 2014, the event has grown massively and now involves Barnet Council and Barnet and Southgate College working in partnership with the university.

The competition’s aim is to promote and develop enterprise and entrepreneurship amongst the student population and throughout Barnet. .

This year the contest is generously supported by Santander Universities UK and Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

There’s a cash prize fund of £15,000 - two winners will each receive £5,000 cash in equity-free seed-funding, and two runners up will each be awarded £2,500.

"I'm so please to see it's one of the rare pitching competitions that come with the opportunity of grant funding. It was one of the first steps on my entrepreneurial journey and I highly encourage others to apply, it's a fantastic opportunity." Marie Farmer, 2018 winner

Marie, 31, whose background is in fashion promotion, advertising and project management,  set up the Mini Mealtimes app, which sends personalised nutrition reports instantly to parents - who have signed up - when they create food diaries.

The goal of the app, which uses a custom formula and works with dieticians, is to tackle the growing issue of children being obese but malnourished in a “cost-effective, innovative and exciting way”.

Mini Mealtimes has been a resounding success and featured on the BBC, Evening Standard and Daily Mail’s This is Money websites.

Marie, who came up with the idea on maternity leave, is thankful for how the Barnet Entrepreneurial Competition helped her business.

“When I was in the competition, I was very inexperienced,” she said.

“Thankfully, the team running the competition, including but not limited to the mentors, judges and organisers, were a great help and I was overjoyed to win.

“I'm also pleased to see it's one of the rare pitching competitions that come with the opportunity of grant funding. It was one of the first steps on my entrepreneurial journey and I highly encourage others to apply, it's a fantastic opportunity.

“Barnet is a great London borough to live in and start a business in.”

Marie managed to raise more than £60,000 through crowd funding for the app which helps parents wean children off junk food.

Annabel, also 31, won the comp with her business Melanin Gamers, a gaming community promoting diversity and inclusion in the video games industry.

Melanin Gamers, which has more than 900 members, stages regular online tournaments, podcasts, quizzes, coding sessions and hosts an online messaging boards where gamers can discuss issues and organise events.

“I applied for the competition in January last year before the pandemic which obviously nobody knew about and it proved absolutely vital in terms of the application process, pitching and workshop,” said Annabel from North London.

“I’d really encourage other people to apply for this competition.

“And even for those who don’t win, if you’re new like me, it’s very helpful to learn about the process of applying for funding for different ventures and being an entrepreneur.

“The workshops showing how to apply for other funding was invaluable because now I can use that as a template.”

Marie explained how Melanin Gamers has moved completely online following the COVID-19 outbreak and that the funds paid for upgrading technical equipment for the team.

“It was very helpful with adjusting to life after the pandemic and having the cushion to still work on MG stuff,” she said.

The Melanin Gamers team is made up of Annabel Ashalley-Anthony (founder), Alan Ashalley-Anthony (chief researcher), Koye John-Charles (illustrator), Laura Wilson (digital marketing lead) and Donavan Shand (creative producer).

Entrepreneurial Barnet takes place over three stages with the intention of identifying the very best ideas and talent.

  • Stage One: The Pitch
    Submit a two-minute pitch video presenting your business or idea
  • Stage Two: The Plan
    A series of online workshops to help develop your idea and business
  • Stage Three: The Final
    Four finalists (two from each category) pitch their business to a panel of judges

There are two categories in the competition and group or team registrations are welcome in both:

  • Commercial (ideas that have potential to become successful businesses)
  • Social Impact (ideas that have a positive impact within communities, such as an environmental, social or other not-for-profit idea)

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s contest will take place entirely online.

To enter the competition, you must record and submit a pitch video of no more than two minutes before 12pm on Wednesday 19 May 2021.

Find out more and register for the competition via: www.mdx.ac.uk/bigidea

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