The University of South Wales held its annual Future Entrepreneur Awards last night (Thursday 5th June) at Cardiff’s City Hall.
Now in its fifth year, the awards were established by the University to encourage entrepreneurship and enterprise among students and graduates in Wales.
TV presenter Lucy Owen presented the awards, which were organised in partnership with Cardiff and Vale College. A total of 14 categories, from Community Start-Up to Best Bright Idea, saw young business leaders of the future recognised for their creativity and achievement.
Sponsors included the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, Natwest, Dragon Signs and Print, Business in Focus, Howells Solicitors, Monmouthshire Building Society, the Wales Quality Centre and Unltd, who donated prizes such as business advice, office space and state-of-the-art gadgets including the Raspberry Pi, which has been developed by Sony.
The winner of the Best Sports Enterprise award was Active Valleys, pictured above, a student-run social enterprise that encourages the development of business skills within a sporting context. Initiated by academic staff in the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, Active Valleys allows students to lead the business and deliver a variety of projects and events on behalf of their clients, such as the recent Western Regional Finals for British Universities and Colleges (BUCS).
They are responsible for every aspect of running the organisation, from establishing an appropriate business structure, managing the finance, marketing and promoting their services and activities, and recruiting and managing a workforce.
The two other finalists in the Best Sports Enterprise category were second year Sports Studies students Emma Wookey and Dayle Hughes, who submitted individual business ideas.
Andy Evans, Award Leader for Sport Management at the University, said: “This award is a fantastic recognition of the hard work and skills of an extremely enterprising group of students. Some of them will be graduating this summer and no doubt progressing into successful careers.
“Others will be continuing their studies next year and helping to build Active Valleys into a stronger and even more successful organisation, through which students can learn first-hand what it takes to make sport happen.”
The award for Best Fashion Enterprise went to Moonstone Boutique, run by Fashion Design graduates Rowan Parker and Charlotte Molyneux, pictured above. While studying at the University’s City Campus in Newport, the students came up with the idea of running their own fashion store to sell bespoke evening gowns for beauty pageants and proms.
Moonstone Boutique was launched as an online shop in October last year, and has more recently branched into selling wedding and bridesmaids dresses. Rowan, from Aberdare, and Charlotte, from Caerphilly, have also benefited from financial support through the University’s Bright Ideas scheme, which helps students and graduates to start their own business.
Charlotte said: “We have learnt so much since starting Moonstone Boutique and have benefited such a lot from the University’s support. To be named as one of the three finalists in this category was an amazing achievement in itself, so we are extremely pleased to have actually won! It makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
The winner of the Best Bright Idea and the Overall Best Enterprise award was LJM Photography, run by Lisa-Jane Meates, pictured above. After graduating from the Photography for Fashion & Advertising degree at the University in 2012, Lisa-Jane decided to start her own fashion and wedding photography business.
Two years on, Lisa-Jane has added portrait and event photography to her repertoire and has built up a wide network of clients. Having also received support from the Bright Ideas team at the University, and funding from the Fairwood Trust, she was able to work full time as a professional photographer – and has even photographed celebrities such as Stella’s Karen Paullada.
As the evening’s top winner, Lisa-Jane was awarded a cash prize of £1,000 from the University, business banking advice from sponsors Natwest, and a Sony NEX 5D digital camera from sponsors Sony UK.
“I am absolutely thrilled and very shocked to have walked away with two awards tonight!” said Lisa-Jane, who is originally from Ballymena in Northern Ireland.
“I can’t pretend that running my own business has been easy up to this point, but it has definitely been worth persevering and learning as much as I can within my first two years. I have lots more exciting projects in the pipeline and am just so thankful for all the support and advice I’ve had, as it’s helped me achieve my dream of being my own boss.”