Igniting a passion for entrepreneurship
Talented entrepreneurs from the University of Sheffield are in the running to receive £100,000 investment for their pioneering business idea after being specially selected for a prestigious European start-up scheme.
Students James Routledge, George Bettany, Nabil Freeman and Stephan Broek were chosen for the renowned Ignite 100 mentorship-lead accelerator scheme, because of their innovative plans for a new social networking site – MatchChat.
The site differs from other networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter because it focuses specifically on live sport and allows fans to manage their relevant social circles around live matches.
Third year History and Politics student James Routledge, 21, said: "I initially had the idea for MatchChat after going to watch a football match with George. We were listening to fans call into the radio commenting about the match and thought, why can't fans connect with each other online?
"George and I developed the idea with the rest of the team and we have been working on MatchChat since February. We are still in the beta testing phase but we have done a few test launches including a varsity version which had more than 1,000 unique visitors in just two days.
"People are often surprised that I study history and politics but it shows that anyone can have entrepreneurial ambition."
The intense 13-week Ignite 100 programme, based in Newcastle, gives teams the chance to gain invaluable experience, advice, know-how and counselling from more than 50 mentors - all experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. They will also be provided with seed capital, office space and the runway necessary to sustain momentum after the acceleration programme has ended.
Third year Business management student, George Bettany, 21, said: "Getting accepted onto Ignite is without a doubt our biggest achievement to date - it's potentially a life changer. We all worked so hard during the application process and on the development of the site, it's just great to know that other people believe in us and we now have a chance to make something big happen. The hard work starts now.
"It is amazing that we are going to be in contact with a network of mentors from backgrounds such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. The mentorship and the connections we will make will be invaluable and having the chance to gain up to £100,000 of investment is remarkable.
"Looking ahead we will be working on an app that functions on all platforms. Our long term goal is to challenge how sports fans connect with each other around live matches, we want to change the future of sport!"
Janet Grant, Enterprise Officer at the University of Sheffield and SVEDI accredited business advisor said: "I and the staff at USE would like to offer our congratulations and good wishes to Matchchat who have been extremely successful in obtaining a place on the Ignite programme.
"A fantastic opportunity lies ahead of them which will be inspirational and life changing. The support Ignite offer will open new doors to new experiences and collaborations which will shape the development of their business in the future. With such a fantastic beginning I am sure they will go from strength to strength and succeed.
"The University of Sheffield Enterprise helps all University of Sheffield students and recent graduates across every single faculty, at every level, to make their ideas happen. It is very much about innovation and offering students the opportunity to show what they really can do. Our dedicated, enthusiastic team are here to help, mentor and support and guide them and ultimately celebrate their success."
The Ignite 100 mentorship accelerator scheme
University of Sheffield Enterprise
Enterprise is having ideas and doing something about them. From embedding enterprise in the curriculum to providing one-to-one business advice and start-up funding, USE helps make ideas happen for students and alumni up to five years from graduation.
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.
The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.
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