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Student entrepreneurs win support from successful alumni in new mentorship programme

Successful formers students have returned to Swansea University to help encourage the next generation of young entrepreneurs.

Three alumni took part in Start-up to CEO, a new initiative launched to give current students the chance to impress and win one-to-one mentoring.

After sharing their backgrounds and the skills they offer, Huw Hampson-Jones, from Oxis Energy, Andrew Overton, from Connexas, and Simon Saxby, of Leaf Expression Systems, heard pitches from seven students before quizzing them on their ideas and ambitions.

Five of the start-ups were successful in securing one of the trio as a mentor and they will now benefit from six months of guidance aimed at helping them grow and sustain their businesses.

The others will still be able to ask the CEOs for advice and can continue to receive support from the University’s Research, Engagement and Innovation Services (REIS).

Simon Saxby said was hugely impressed not only by the pitches but also by the initiative, which was devised as a joint collaboration between REIS and Alumni departments at the University.

He said: “This will be incredibly valuable to those with a bit of entrepreneurial flair. It’s good to be able to give something back to the University where I had three thoroughly enjoyable and life-changing years. “

Entrepreneurship Officer Kelly Jordan said: “After spending two years supporting and guiding some of our student start-ups it was incredible to watch them pitch to CEOs who have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

“That’s why this has probably been the proudest and most rewarding day in in my role at Swansea University.”

Andrew Overton added: “I am looking forward to taking these budding business folks under my wing and giving something back to a place I have fond memories of from some 35 years ago.”

Gerard Kennedy, the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Manager praised the trio for lending their support to the initiative.

“The enthusiasm our past students show to help our current students is fantastic. Events like this create amazing opportunities for alumni to give back to the University and build stronger relationships between student and alumni communities.”

The students taking part were:

  • Tofazzal Rashid  and Sajal Gurung (Ffrind)
  • Luke Green (GoGo Coffee)
  • Sion Williams (RAVS)
  • Jordan Williams (Pathetic Brands)
  • Cameron Calder (NFC Assist)
  • Benjamin Humphries (Calibar)
  • Tom Robertson (GAIN)

At the event the students also heard from Nathan John, who is now CEO of the Rewise Foundation and SurfAbility UK, who spoke about his journey since graduating from Swansea in 2006.

If you are a recent start-up or successful alumni who would like to take part in the scheme please contact Swansea University on 01792 606060.