A student’s innovative cyber security networking business scooped the top prize in a global event featuring entrepreneurs from Middlesex University’s campuses in Dubai, Mauritius and London.
The MDXcelerator International Final held online on May 11 brought together winners of competitions from each campus - Rebeca Najmias (London), Yovanie Sevanandee (Mauritius) and Abdurrahman Sagir (Dubai).
Finalists, who stood to win 3k seed funding, were given five minutes to pitch their business to the online audience and panel followed by 15 minutes of Q&A.
“Our panel was impressed with the calibre of all three candidates, which reflected the entrepreneurial spirit that is embedded in Middlesex University’s 2031 Strategy." Professor Tenia Kyriazi, the PVC Education & Student Experience (Interim).
The eventual winner was Yovanie (pictured above) whose LinkedIn style platform Yo Cyberwatch provides 24-hour availability for qualified and affordable cybersecurity experts for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Mauritius.
Yovanie, a second year Cybersecurity and Digital Forensic student, says she plans to use the cash to purchase a domain name for Yo Cyberwatch to boost its online presence along funding marketing activities and acquiring new clients.
“For the past 24 weeks, it has been a valuable experience to connect with local entrepreneurs where I was able to engage in fruitful discussions about business ideas and also exploring the dynamic of the local market in Mauritius,” said Yovanie.
“I also had an incredible opportunity to work with Tabi, who himself is an entrepreneur.
“I would like to say a big thank to my three amazing mentors – Daliah, Dr Tasneem and Lakshana - whose mentorship has provided me with a deeper understanding of the marketing and financial aspects. Their guidance has played a crucial role in my entrepreneurial journey as their mentorship empowers me in making more informed and strategic choices.”
Professor Tenia Kyriazi, the PVC Education & Student Experience (Interim) at Middlesex University who was among the judging panel, said: “Our panel was impressed with the calibre of all three candidates, which reflected the entrepreneurial spirit that is embedded in Middlesex University’s 2031 Strategy.
“The winner Yovanie really stood out for her attention to detail, her innovative idea and her carefully curated business plan. Warmest congratulations to Yovanie and her mentors and well done to all three candidates for their wonderful presentations.
“Thank you to MDXWorks for organising and hosting the competition and colleagues from across the three campuses who worked hard to support, mentor and celebrate student entrepreneurship.”
Abdurrahman from Dubai said: “The competition was an incredible experience for me, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to showcase my idea to such a talented and inspiring group of individuals.”
This year the MDXcelerator programme went worldwide with the campuses in London, Mauritius and Dubai running a joint start-up support programme including masterclasses, workshops and spectacular local pitching competitions where the finalists were awarded prize money to help with launching their businesses.
In the London event, Rebeca Najmias, an MSc Digital Marketing student, won the top 6k cash prize for her business venture The Tea & Coffee Exchange, which will offer Japanese tea and coffee, exclusive desserts, signature beverages, fair trade events and workshops on the culture in Japan.
“Being a part of the MDXcelerator has been an amazing experience,” she said.
In second place Redha Sohali, a BA Business Management student, won a 4k cash injection for her business The Good Deed, a clothing brand suitable for various climates and made from sustainable, recycled fabrics and biodegradable packaging with £7 from every sale going into charity.
She described the process as “very exciting” and thanked the MDX staff who provided support throughout the competition.
“The world needs entrepreneurs right now because entrepreneurs create social change,” said Redha.
In third place, Safiz Hameed and Aakash Salian (both MA International Business Management) and Anwar Rahman (BA Business Management) were awarded 2k for their university-based social networking platform Colide which connects aspiring entrepreneurs based on their ideas, interests, skills and locations.
“We are truly appreciative of the MDXcelerator program for equipping us with the tools and knowledge to drive our business forward and achieve our entrepreneurial goals,” they said.
The University would like to thank Santander Universities for its generous £10,000 funding towards MDXcelerator and ongoing support over the years with the competition and entrepreneurial activities.
Simon Poulter, Relationship Manager at Santander Universities UK, has delivered multiple workshops and took part in judging panels, supporting the student participants to develop their business ideas.
Find out more about the Enterprise Development Hub at the university.