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ESG SPOTLIGHT

With this blog we hope to shed some light on our thoughts, practices, research and views – how we can help overcome the challenges ahead and at the same time find opportunities for investment.

  • Writer's pictureJJ Jardine-Paterson

"QWITZ - Kick The Craving"

Velox's mentoring Activities in 2023


After the success of Velox mentoring Mossbourne in 2022, Velox were kindly invited back to mentor a team of students for the 23/24 Livery Academy Awards, a Dragon’s Den style competition started 10 years ago. While the remit for this year’s competition had a slightly different tilt, focused on “technology supported solutions for a sustainable future”, the overall outline of the competition remained the same:

-         The Students have to pitch to ‘Investors’ to raise up to £2,000,000 to launch a product or service which can be commercially successful and generate a material social benefit for customers and/or society as a whole.

-         These ‘Investors’ being a distinguished panel of judges (5 highly successful entrepreneurs led by Tim Campbell MBE, the first winner of Sir Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice), as well as an audience of 150 guests.

-         Sadly (for all involved) the ‘£2,00,000’ is entirely theoretical.

 

Started ten years ago by The Worshipful Company of Grocers, one of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London, the Livery Academy Awards programme was designed for students within London Academies to help nurture the entrepreneurial spirit among the next generation of bright young Londoners, as properly reflective of the Grocers’ historic role in the lifeblood of London’s commerce. Since 2013, three other Livery Companies joined the fold; The Haberdashers, The Merchant Taylors and The Drapers. Round 1 of the competition sees three Academies battle it out at each Livery Hall to identify a ‘regional’ winner, before the Grand Finale between the respective winners at Mansion House in front of the Lord Mayor of London.

 

Since the competition first came into existence, Mossbourne Community Academy, a coeducational secondary school and sixth form based in Hackney, have championed the competition putting forward a set of eager entrepreneurial students every year. 2023 was no different with 8 exceptionally capable students stepping forward to try and retain the coveted award that had been won by their predecessors. To help in this process, BBH, the British global advertising agency, and Velox Capital Partners (specifically Elina Kovaleva, Saarthak Chhabra, Lihui Huang and JJ Jardine-Paterson) offered their input to help guide the students on how a business can be transformed from a single idea to a fully functioning business model providing mentoring on how to turn a concept into a brand and how to transform random numbers into financial projections.

 

Mossbourne’s original business idea came quickly: How do we rid the world of vapes, and all the negatives associated with them from personal health problems to litter that clogs our street??

 

Simple: “QWITZ – Kick The Craving”.

 

The idea was that QWITZ could offer a fresh solution for those looking to break free from nicotine addiction via an innovative vape product. Aptly named, this device assists users in gradually reducing their nicotine intake at a personalized pace, facilitating a smoother transition to a nicotine-free & vape-free lifestyle whilst at the same time being committed to environmental sustainability through fully recyclable vapes and a carbon-neutral business model. Operating on a subscription-based model, QWITZ aims to ensure convenient delivery of their product directly to customers' doorsteps. This is complemented by an intuitive app-based system, which not only enables users to monitor their progress with precision but also fosters a supportive community environment, where individuals can connect, share experiences, and receive encouragement on their journey towards improved health and well-being.

 

Over the course of 8-10 weeks, students and mentors met on a regular basis for formal and informal mentoring sessions. These ranged from simple brainstorming and spreadsheet lessons, to demonstrations of intricate financial models and explanations of complex business terminology. Collaborating with a team of highly intelligent students served as a humbling reminder that the foundational elements of any business are just as crucial as the polished final product. While it sometimes required patience, particularly in explaining financial projections, together the students and mentors developed a business that not only appeared promising but also operated ethically and turned a profit.

 

Sadly, the judges were not of the same opinion. After a 15min pitch followed by 10mins of challenging Q&A, in which the students clearly demonstrated their belief in the business and everything they had learnt over the proceeding 10 weeks, the judges decided that QWITZ was not sufficiently ‘technology-focused’ to progress any further. While applauded for their work, the outcome was ultimately disappointing and palpable in the body language of the students who had seen victory as everything. While Velox was equally upset not to be walking away with some physical semblance of success, we hope this process taught the students more than just the basics of setting up a business; it taught them the importance of creativity, the importance of resolve and the importance of evolution. While this business idea might have ‘failed’, we feel confident the wonderful Mossbourne students will leave hungry for further entrepreneurial endeavour.

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