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Entrepreneurial graduates win £6,000 to grow their business

Strong entrepreneurial spirit has earned a graduate duo from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) £6,000 to grow their ‘gamified software’ business.

Derry Holt and James Heath have been awarded £6,000 by Entrepreneurial Spark - the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures – to take their business, Stormburst Studios, to the next level.

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Stormburst Studios specialise in applying typical elements of game playing - like point scoring, competition with others and rules of play – to other areas of activity as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

The duo, who graduated from DMU in July 2015 with a First Class honours in BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming, made it into the final eight to pitch live at the Entrepreneuring Awards. Their 60-second pitch came in the top three, earning them £2,000.

Derry, the 23-year old delivering the pitch said: “In all honesty I didn’t feel like I had a chance of winning as the other businesses are excellent pitchers, but I’m not going to complain!”

The business partners were in for another pleasant surprise on the night, discovering they had also been nominated for the #GoDo award, given to businesses that go the extra mile to grow.

Derry said: “I think we won for our ability to transition from programmers to entrepreneurs. We cold-call clients, attend countless networking events and take every opportunity that comes our way.”

One of those opportunities was getting onto Entrepreneurial Spark’s accelerator programme in the first place.

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Derry described the programme as “one of the most exciting things to be happening for start-ups in the UK”, adding: “The support they’ve given us and countless other businesses is incredible. We have an experienced mentor who challenges us every single day.”

Now embarking on the second phase of the scheme, Derry and James’ focus over the next 12 months is to “achieve £100k revenue or gain £100k investment”.

The duo plan to achieve this by launching their new product called Spirit, a gamified business intelligence platform for innovative sales teams.

Derry said: “Spirit is designed to enable sales teams to run contests online with real-time updates, analytical report generation and a little bit of fantasy football magic to engage and motivate the entire team.

“Even though similar products exist in the US, none of them are making a move into the UK market, so we identified a two-year window to capitalise on that gap.”

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Spirit is currently being trialled with three companies and will be launching as a pre-release version at the Sales Innovation Expo in May, with a full launch expected in August.

The pair is also grateful for the initial boost they received in getting Stormburst Studios off the ground through DMU’s Crucible Project, a start-up initiative offering funding and tailored support for innovative graduates.

They also benefitted from personal workspace at DMU’s Innovation Centre, a professional environment for business start-ups and entrepreneurs on the university’s campus.

Derry said: “Without all this we wouldn’t be in business. The monthly living assistance is an absolute godsend and we’re incredibly grateful to Simon Baines and the Innovation Centre staff for believing in us, especially during the early days.

“Percy Emmett, the lead mentor on the Crucible Project, has been instrumental in guiding us too. I think we’re moving a lot quicker than any of us expected, but they’ve both been on-hand for when we’ve needed their help - we really appreciate it.”

Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2016

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