A first-hand report from Ella Brown, Office Assistant at StartUp Croydon.
This showcase event for Croydon and Bromley was nothing short of unforgettable. Hosted by StartUp Croydon at Weatherill House, the event was the first in a local competition for Young Enterprise UK and included presentations from Scrumbles’ co-founder Jack Walker and guest speaker, rapper and entertainer Luke Peters – also known as Still Shadey.
The event began at 4:15 pm sharp, with the teams arriving to set up their trade stands and introductions happening shortly after. The teams came from Coulsdon College and Coloma Girls Convent School, respectively. Saffron Saunders, Jack Walker, and Stuart King judged the event as members of the panel.
The energy was high, with everyone in good spirits as the judges came around to look at the stands and ask the teams about their products and how they’d come up with their ideas. The first stand was vibrant and eye-catching, with small cards containing QR codes and the company website available for guests to use and take home to find more information on the company and its products.
I had the chance to talk to the team from Coloma Girls Convent School who went by the name SOUL – Save Our Unique Land – who had created an engaging colouring book for children called ‘Colour Your Climate’ in order to spread awareness of environmental issues to young people and allow readers to track their learning with facts about animals, the environment, and different countries.
The values of SOUL included teamwork, respect, and communication. When asked about which companies inspired SOUL and why, two members, Kelly Ann and Twinkle, said the service, sustainability, and quality of Lush products were something that they admired and wanted to include for their own company and product, with the book itself being made from recyclable materials.
There was still some time for me to get to speak to the other participants and find out about their company before both teams went upstairs for interviews.
The other team came from Coulsdon College and is a Coulsdon-based candle-making business called Wix and Wax. They used recycled glass jars and recycled oils for different moulds, along with rapeseed and sunflower oil. Wix and Wax had decided to do candles as a business because lots of religions, such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity, still use candles for their respective festivals, though there are non-religious events that would also include candles, such as weddings or funerals. Their target audience included middle-aged women and young people.
Once the judges had looked at the stands, it was time for interviews. SOUL was up first after a short rehearsal, followed by Wix and Wax, before presentations began at 4:45 pm.
Both teams were confident and passionate about their respective companies, with guests and the teams themselves also getting an understanding of the judges and their businesses. One such individual was Stuart King, a senior partnership, sales, and account management leader with over fifteen years of experience with financial technology, or fintech.
Other presentations included one from Scrumbles, which was established in Croydon and is now based in London Bridge and makes nutritional pet food for cats and dogs. Scrumbles was started in 2018 by Jack and his wife, Aneisha Soobroyen. The couple went on Dragons Den back in 2018 to get funding for Scrumbles and received an offer of £60,000, which Jack rejected. After visiting multiple pet shows, Scrumbles became the second pet food company in the world to certify as an ethical B Corporation in 2019, and after getting their first retail listing from Ocado, they were able to build on their success even further.
Scrumbles puts a focus on sustainability and helping the environment when it comes to packaging, and as of 2021, they received their first listing at both Sainsbury’s and Tesco, with Scrumbles having their first TV campaign in the same year.
The teams took great interest in this, and the presentation for Scrumbles was both informative and interactive while remaining easy for many to understand.
After that, it was time for refreshments at 6:15 pm while the judges deliberated over the winners of the event. Young Enterprise had provided an array of sandwiches, crisps, and other snacks for guests, with the high energy from earlier in the day still present, given the upcoming arrival of the guest speaker, Still Shadey.
Still Shadey has charted at number one on the iTunes world charts with the afrobeat single ‘Blessings’ and number seven in the Hip-Hop charts with the drill remix of ‘Heaven’. He’s passionate about mentoring and youth work and wanted to share his experience with gangs and knife crime in order to help break the cycle of violence that plagues some young people in the local area.
Still Shadey spoke about how he’d taken the time to figure out the reason behind his motivation for starting his business and how he’d stayed focused even when things were difficult. When asked about what inspired him to help guide the next generation of business leaders, he went on to say, “Eleven to eighteen year olds just need a role model. Helping that group is important because they need someone to be there for them.” He also spoke about seeing his own journey mirrored in some of the behaviours of the young people, which made him want to help.
Then it was onto the awards.
Wix and Wax won the ‘Team Journey Award,’ with Jack presenting them the trophy while SOUL took home the award for ‘Best Company.’
Both teams, along with their teachers, posed for pictures with the event moderator, other StartUp Croydon staff members, the judges, and Still Shadey to commemorate the occasion.
I caught up with one of the members of Wix and Wax towards the end and asked what the plans were for his company in the future, and he said he wanted to “pass the company down onto the next business students at Coulsdon College who want experience in business.” And with that, the local competition ended, with both teams now through to the South London final that begins in May 2023.
It was a pleasure for us to host the event here at StartUp Croydon, given that we are invested in our local community and its residents and have always looked for new ways to help those starting businesses. StartUp Croydon is based in Croydon and was founded by Bernard Weatherill in 1983. We are a business charity that helps small and medium-sized businesses by selling office space and providing business support. The business support includes finding viable business ideas and holding networking events to help the companies connect. We’re passionate about supporting local people of all backgrounds in an environment that is supportive and inclusive through mentoring and training that delivers economic growth to the area.
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/stubiquitous – Stuart King LinkedIn