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DMU students mean business in annual Fox's Lair challenge

Hundreds of business students are braving the Fox's Lair!® to pitch their ideas to real-life entrepreneurs.

Around 80 groups of students from across seven courses have entered the annual De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) challenge, focusing on a vast range of themes, from food, health and entertainment to app-enabled products and services for consumers and businesses alike.

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They will be judged by the Foxes, a panel of experts from all over the country who give up their time to come to campus to quiz participants on the research, numbers and quality of their plan.

The experience helps students develop valuable business skills and nurtures entrepreneurship, with the added incentive of a £1,000 prize for the winning team.

Edwina Goodwin, senior lecturer and programme leader for the Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree, developed this module. She said: "All the students had identified a problem that their new business idea tried to solve.

"The Fox's Lair!® is challenging but good for students' confidence and transferable skills, developing innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, which ultimately enhances employability.

"It doesn't date because every year there are new challenges, new business ideas and different guests on each panel, so it evolves with the times."

Graduates who have been through the Lair - the only scheme of its kind to develop business skills in an accredited first-year module - have achieved success in advertising, marketing, as entrepreneurs, account managers and 'intrapreneurs' - the entrepreneur within a large organisation.

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Among the groups hoping to impress this year are Business and Marketing student Tom Murphy, Sarah Abraham, who is studying Marketing, and International Business student Jamil Karim.

Together they pitched Locate Me, a wearable tracking device made of silicon with an adjustable strap for use in large attractions such as theme parks, aimed to protect against child abduction and prevent people getting lost.

All agreed presenting to the Foxes was a valuable experience.

Tom said: "The people we are presenting to know what they are talking about and have real-world knowledge. I was nervous at first but once we got talking it was fine.

"The experience helped with confidence, team work, presentation skills and time management."

Sarah said the judges' feedback about areas that needed developing was equally useful.

She said: "Although we were pleased with our pitch, the Foxes pointed out a flaw - we hadn't looked into wider costs of technology."

She added that the experience will help when applying for placements. "This is what people are looking for," said Sarah.

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Among the 40 judges who have headed to the Lair during competition fortnight are Aatin Anadkat BEM, owner of Leicester's award-winning Hotel Maiyango and a long-standing 'Fox'.

He said: "We have seen some fantastic and less coherent groups. It's all part of life, being able to pitch and present. It's great to see the innovation."

Fellow judge Danielle Gillett, finance and corporate services director of EMB Group, added: "One thing that comes out is people get excited about the idea but not about the detail, such as finances, so this helps them to refocus and is a reality check."

Also helping students get their ideas into gear was guest Mark Smith, BMW i Brand Executive, who arrived on campus in the new BMW i8. He is an alumnus of DMU, who pitched his own idea in the Lair six years ago.

The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony on 19 May.

Posted on Thursday 28th April 2016

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