Posted Thursday 3 March 2022
The seventeenth annual Bright Ideas final has seen Kingston University students pitch their business ideas before a group of expert investors in a Dragons' Den-style competition.
The People's Choice winner was Farah Nehme with her concept, Family Playhouse – an educational toy for children over the age of three which informs about non-traditional family dynamics.
Farah, a MA Communication, Design and Illustration student, explained more about her idea. "My sister and her wife are planning to have a child but there really are only books to teach children about non-traditional families," she said. "I thought that there was a real gap in the toy market and that's where Family Playhouse came from. The toy teaches about different types of family structures and inclusivity in a broader sense. I created and designed the toy myself."
Farah continued: "I gained a deeper understanding of what makes a business idea successful, and I learned how to give an elevator pitch to a non-specialised crowd. We were asked to give a three minute pitch, two minute pitch, one minute pitch, 20 words pitch and that was quite an exercise; it really helped me go straight to the essence of my project."
Following an in-person pitching session and a networking event, the winners were revealed in a virtual award ceremony. Other winners across seven categories included I-SAFE, an online safety app designed to help censor mature content when young children use the internet, and Rosielle, a smart golf bag.
The award ceremony featured a panel of three Kingston University alumni who have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs after graduating.
Jayesh Hirani graduated from the software engineering programme in 2009 and, is now chief executive of Vah Travels. He reflected on his experience of taking part in Bright Ideas and gave advice to the young entrepreneurs. "The competition is really special to me because this is where I started my entrepreneurial journey, in 2009, and where I learnt the basics of business, networking and pitching," he said.
"In order to stand out in a very competitive market, it is very simple, just understand the competition and ask yourself, how you're different. If there is not much of a difference, still pursue your idea and make your own identity in the marketplace, as there is always room for new entrants."
The other panelists were Robert Nicoll, who graduated with a BA in graphic design in 2017 and is co-founder of Chip[s] Board – a biomaterial innovation company, and Oriele Frank, who graduated in 1993 with a degree in business studies and co-founded luxury skincare brand Elemis after leaving Kingston.
The Bright Ideas competition takes place over a number of months and is open to students across all disciplines at Kingston University. The competition champions future skills such as problem solving and communication.
Hundreds of ideas were pitched before being narrowed down for the grand final. The winner in each of the seven categories received £1,000 while the runner-up was rewarded with £250.
The audience of students, staff and guests were invited to vote for the People's Choice award for their favourite idea. Farah said she hadn't expected to win. "I would say that the key to succeeding in the competition is to have an idea that you are really passionate about. With the £1,000 prize, I really want to get Family Playhouse on the market and out there to the world."
Head of Enterprise Education Martha Mador spoke about the high calibre of ideas this year's competition attracted. "It has been brilliant to see so many new, fresh ideas this year and to finally get some elements of the competition back in-person," she said. "Ideas change as you develop them, and it has been great to see all the pitches from the students and hear about all the skills they have learnt and can use in the future."
The University has continued its partnership with several organisations to keep growing the competition and inspire a new wave of entrepreneurial minds. These include Stefano Ciampolini, the founder and managing partner of Healthcare Capital Partners and MedScience Ventures, Elliott Wood and Sainsbury Management Fellows Engineers in Business, which each sponsored categories and prizes aligned with their sectors.
Bright Ideas 2022 competition winners:
Family Playhouse - Kingston School of Art and People's Choice
Ecoxhaust - Engineering 1 (sponsored by Engineers in Business)
Formular - Engineering 2 (sponsored by Engineers in Business)
R3CYCLED - Sustainability (sponsored by Elliott Wood)
Rosielle - Business and Social Science 1
Vita-Patch - Health and Education (sponsored by Stefano Ciampolini)
XRoom - Business and Social Science 2
I-SAFE – Social Media Award