Prize for university entrepreneur connecting students with local businesses

A student and entrepreneur has won the latest Soup event brought to the South West by GAIN at the University of Plymouth. Jerome Kennard will use his prize money to support his new venture, ERLY, which helps students find work experience with local businesses.

ERLY is a network that connects university students with local businesses so they can gain work experience. Jerome will use his prize money to take his new venture – ERLY – to an international conference, Startup Grind, where he hopes to attract investors.

This Soup event took place at Future Sync, a one-day community tech conference at the University. Jerome pitched ERLY against two other entrepreneurs to an audience who then voted for their favourite.

A final year BSc (Hons) Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship student, Jerome is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and lived in New York City before moving to Plymouth to study. His idea was recently one of 13 University of Plymouth student start-ups to be awarded a grant through the BETA Enterprise programme, run by the University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.

A keen traveller and surfer, Jerome aims for ERLY to be the place for students and businesses to find each other. Longer term, he wants all higher education institutions in the UK to use the service to benefit their students and to then take ERLY to a global market.

Jerome Kennard said:

“It feels exciting to have won the Soup event because it means that other people believe in the idea and that it has potential. I was nervous I would choke up during my pitch, but once I started, everything just flowed and my passion carried the whole pitch. The experience of meeting like-minded people and networking was the best part. I hope that businesses and universities see the potential in ERLY to create an amazing space for students and businesses to connect and grow.”

Jerome pitched against two other local entrepreneurs: Stephanie Jasper whose start up business Your High Life offers getaways and corporate team-building experiences in a suspended tent and Corrie Barton of Plymouth creative studio Feisty Crab Studios.

University of Plymouth Corporate Projects Manager Rich Adams said:

“Jerome faced stiff competition from the others, but gave a really passionate presentation. It was clear to the audience how his venture could benefit businesses and students. Jerome has had some support from the University’s BETA Enterprise Programme, which is run by our Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. We’re delighted to now see how winning Soup will help him take his idea to an international conference, where he will have the chance to get in front of investors.”

Now an international crowdfunding phenomenon, Soup began in Detroit. Audience members pay £5 to see new businesses pitch their ideas an over a bowl of soup before voting for their favourite with their spoons. The winner earns the takings to support their venture to grow, as well as a package of business support from the University of Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce.

This Soup event was sponsored by PKF Francis Clark.

Live crowdfunding in action at Soup

GAIN host a number of Soup events throughout the year to help raise small-scale investment for up and coming new business ideas. Businesses pitch to a live audience hoping to win their vote – and the prize investment package.

Get involved in a Soup event near you

BETA Enterprise Programme

Student entrepreneurs undertaking the MSc Entrepreneurship are automatically enrolled on the BETA Enterprise Programme. The programme provides workshops, advice and one-to-one mentoring throughout the programme. Students also have the opportunity to pitch for start-up funding from the BETA programme consisting of a grant of up to £1,500. 

"Beta has helped me by really giving me the confidence to take this idea forward. Without BETA I would not be able to start this business for another six months, but if I get the funding (fingers crossed) after today, I will be able to start the business hopefully next week." - BETA participant.

Find out more about the BETA Enterprise Programme.

On the fast track to success

BSc (Hons) Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is a two year fast track degree programme. This means we have taken the typical three year degree programme and condensed it in to two years so you have three years worth of modules over two years. In order to do this each year you have an additional semester (in the summer) than those studying a traditional three year degree programme. You still get a summer break between year one and year two.