Disability app founder Simon reaches final of Santander X start-up awards

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate Simon Sansome, founder of disability access app Snowball, has beaten 1,500 other entrepreneurs to win a place in the finals of the 2023 Santander X UK Awards.

Last week he was among 100 shortlisted businesses pitching their ideas at the semi finals in London’s KIA Oval, and won a place on the final 12.

Simon’s company is Snowball Community, which is one of the world’s biggest disability apps, allowing users to rate and review venues, restaurants, bars, blue badge parking spaces and more for how well they meet the needs of disabled visitors.

INSET simon

Now in its 13th year, Santander's annual Entrepreneurship Awards is one of the UK's largest student and graduate business pitching competitions. Three student businesses and three start-ups will be chosen to receive an equity-free cash prize and business support.

Simon who is a member of DMU’s business incubator, Crucible, will head to the national finals on December 7.

To make it to the finals, applicants were whittled down from 1,500 applications and attended a bootcamp in Birmingham before making pitches to three different sets of judges.

The final six start-up businesses were then chosen.

Simon said: “Business competitions like the Santander awards are great for start up as it gives you experience in the business world but also indicates if you product has a chance in securing investments and other opportunities. We are really looking forward to the finals. It’s a very tough process and I am grateful that the judges see the benefit of the Snowball Community App”.

The place in the national finals comes just after Simon was named one of the top 10 most influential disabled campaigners in the UK, in the 2023 Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list. He was named winner in the Digital and Tech Category.

Snowball – available is on Apple and Android – has more than 100,000 followers on social media.

It has tens of thousands of reviews covering everything from venues to changing places and blue badge parking bays, making it the biggest disability app in the world and because it’s supported by Google Maps you can get Sat Nav directions to your location. If a place or business is not on the app, users can add new places and leave reviews.

Mike Regnier, CEO, Santander UK said: “At Santander, we are committed to supporting entrepreneurship and the vital role it plays in driving growth and productivity in the economy. We want to help remove the barriers people face when starting out, and support them through the process of growing a successful business.   

“The Santander X Awards offer the most innovative and disruptive early-stage start-ups in the UK the opportunity to network, learn from experts, and win vital funding to help their business. I look forward to judging what I know will be an excellent set of pitches from some of the UK's most promising entrepreneurs." 

Now in its 13th year, The Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards stand as one of the UK's major platforms for student and graduate business pitches. Over the years, they've supported numerous early-stage entrepreneurs, providing over £900,000 in equity-free funding to start-ups and small businesses.

The Crucible brings together alumni and graduates to support them on the business journey, through mentoring, masterclasses, prototyping facilities and networking as they test and develop their businesses. 

Percy Emmett, director of The Crucible, said: "We couldn't be prouder of what Simon is achieving with the Snowball App, providing a real service for people all over the world. To reach the final six of the Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards is an incredible achievement. We will be keeping our fingers crossed for December 7."

Posted on Tuesday 21st November 2023

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