Meet the winners of the 2022 Fox's Lair competition

Spotting a sign on a village noticeboard led three De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students to come up with an award-winning app idea.

Mia Gray, Scott Haines and Ellie Harris developed VenHire – an online community to help people find venues and building owners to advertise available space – which saw them crowned the 2022 winners of DMU’s Fox’s Lair competition.

THUMB venhire

Fox’s Lair is a competition that challenges all first-year business students to come up with, develop and pitch their plan to a panel of judges, known as the Foxes, many of whom are entrepreneurs and business owners.

Mia, Scott and Ellie, who are all studying advertising and marketing communications, came up with the idea after Scott spotted an advert for a venue on a village notice board and thought there had to be a better way of advertising it.

Scott said: “I was working as an estate agent before university and saw an advert for a venue rental on a village notice board. With only a telephone number and little information, I thought it was old-fashioned.

“Handed the task of the Fox’s Lair, we brainstormed multiple ideas with multiple coffees and snacks, we quickly realised that the idea of VenHire was by far the best and immediately saw potential. The once small idea swiftly expanded as we saw all the avenues, we could take with VenHire.”

The online system categories venues into location, ideal purpose and capacity which will then allow customers looking for venues to book the space. It also allows commercial premises such as cafes to list their disused spaces on days that they are closed, and pubs to list vacant function rooms.

Mia added: “As we grow, we can list parking spaces and homeowners can rent their large gardens. Every venue and space will be able to be reviewed by the customers.”

The team researched competitors and spoke to app developers and website designers to get the pitch together, which was made to a team of judges.

“Presenting to the judges was a great experience, although a nerve-racking one,” said Ellie. “However, after lots of practice and genuine confidence in ourselves and our ideas, our nerves soon subsided as our presentation began. We received great feedback and really appreciated the comments and constructive criticism we were given by the Foxes.”

They were announced as the winners at this year’s Fox’s Lair awards, held in Leicester Castle Business School.

“It was great to know that it was not just us that believed in VenHire,” said Mia. “Of course, the bonus of a goodie bag and a £1000 cheque was also a huge achievement. We are very grateful, and the win provided us with further confidence to push VenHire in the coming future.”

Senior enterprise Dr Simon Hill, who runs the Fox’s Lair said: “It’s been a fantastic year, with a range of strong entries. Choosing the winners and finalists, has been harder than ever."

Posted on Monday 28th November 2022

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