Accommodation kit to get students UniReady wins Fox's Lair top prize

A do-it-for-you service to help students kit out their accommodation has clinched the top prize in this year's Fox's Lair™ - De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)'s annual contest for entrepreneurs.

UniReady is the brainchild of Lauren Robinson, Jacob Rees, Bethany Robinson and Saifur Rohman. They came up with the idea, researched it and pitched it to DMU's Foxes - real-life business owners and entrepreneurs who give up their time to come to campus, hear pitches and judge the winners.

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The team's idea is offering packs for bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens to students who could choose from three options - standard, luxury and VIP ranges. Foxes loved the way they had worked out how to "upsell" the bundles and the solid research they had carried out.

As they clutched their winners' shield and a cheque for £1,000 - courtesy of Champions UK plc, of Loughborough - they said they were surprised to have won.

Lauren said: "I'm so shocked, I still can't believe we won. We knew it was a good idea and we knew the presentation went well, but this is incredible. Andrew Nicholson (module leader for the Fox's Lair) has been brilliant throughout it all."

Bethany added: "When we saw the names of the third place and second place come up we looked at each other and said, it's not going to be us - then we saw our names!"

"We're getting our exams out the way then we'll sit down and work out how we're going to do this for real," said Jacob.

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Adele Tilley, who was one of the judges, was thrilled for her protégées. She said: "They absolutely smashed the presentation. They were on point with every detail. I'm so proud of them!"

Second place went to Fast Track, comprising Nathan Beard, Ellis Beever, Daniel Bonnett, Luke Barnett and Charlie Basford. Their idea was to offer a leasing service for computers similar to that offered by car companies, allowing subscribers to get the latest technology every year.

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Armeen Hashim (Advertising and Marketing), James Ritter (Marketing), Conner Harman (Business Enterprise) and Abbie Sherratt (Marketing) came third for their idea Table Wizard, which tracks every stage of a restaurant order so customers get served faster. They wore a wizard costume and used a smoke machine in their presentation to the judges.

"I was a waitress for four years, and that was the number one problem," said Abbie. James added: "It's something we've all experienced and Table Wizard would prioritise orders so servers and chefs knew who was first."

There were a whole host of different ideas pitched by the students, who form teams to put their plans together. Hazel Stronach, Lex Smith, Lauren Astell, Elena Stevens came up with Creative Confections, offering personalised sweets.

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George Farrow and Gethin Davies came up with Cine-Mate, a way of friends watching films together online. "We had a Netflix epiphany overnighter in the library for 13 hours just blitzing the idea," said George. "You could have friends pages, recommend films to your community, added Gethin.

Sharmila Mohankumar; Kirstine Misenoka and Hasan Mirza pitched Mo'Roses, which offered a cupcake rose bouquet in place of flowers. It would mean an end to the thousands of air miles clocked up flying roses to England for Valentine's Day every year. "Fox's Lair has been a great experience," said Sharmila. "If you wanted to start a business we would know the basic starting points now. And you know how and where to get help."

DMU alumni Andy Birchall, now working with Santander, and lettings agency boss Tom Brookes were part of the Fox's Lair when they were students, and had a lot of sympathy with the groups as judges. "We told them: 'We've been in your shoes, we know exactly what this is like," said Andy.

"Fox's Lair lets you put the theory into practice, also speaking to the Foxes, they are really happy to listen and share their knowledge," said Business student Max Hiley.

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Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, Warren Manning, was a Fox this year. He told the students: "A lot of your time at university is about marks, about grades. This is a different experience. You have to stand up in from of leaders of industry, we saw a whole range of students being able to present in front of experts."

The Fox's Lair is the only scheme of its kind of the country to help students develop business skills in an accredited first-year module. It helps prepare students for the world of work by getting them to focus on skills employers look for - teamwork, project management, research, communication skills and problem solving.

Posted on Thursday 18th May 2017

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