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Waffle Wins! Sussex student business crowned the people’s champion at Royal event

Julian Bourne and Matt Pritchard at Pitch@Palace

Julian Bourne making his pitch for Waffle at Pitch@Palace

A student from the University of Sussex is celebrating after winning the People’s Choice award at the latest edition of a prestigious start-up business event, hosted at St James’s Palace.

Waffle, a personal assistant chatbot that helps to connect users with real-time restaurant deals in their area, beat off competition from over 40 other businesses to win the Pitch@Palace People’s Choice award, announced by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in a ceremony at St James’s Palace.

Pitch@Palace is a national competition designed to allow the best and brightest from across the UK to showcase their ideas in front of an audience of influential individuals, big businesses, and investors.

Julian Bourne, a fourth-year Finance student from West Sussex, co-founded Waffle after becoming frustrated by the amount of money he was spending on eating out, all the while noticing the number of empty tables in popular restaurants at certain times of the day.

The Waffle service allows diners to search for restaurants offering discounts in order to fill their empty tables. Users are also notified of special offers based on the user’s particular preferences and tastes, which the chatbot has learned through interaction on the Facebook Messenger service.

On top of scoring users a deal, the business is environmentally friendly, too. The concept helps cut food waste in restaurant kitchens and there are plans for each deal to contribute towards a meal for someone in need, in order to support the local community it serves.

Julian, along with co-founders Matt Pritchard and James Powell, hope that their success will help to propel them on to bigger and better things. The evening at St James’s Palace resulted in meetings with numerous potential investors and connections within the industry.

“We’re over the moon,” said Julian of the win. “We’re pleased that the concept of Waffle struck a chord with so many members of the public. It shows there’s a real gap in the market where Waffle can thrive, offering a truly individual service to our customers.

“However, we certainly won’t be resting on our laurels and the whole team is still focused on the bigger prize – rolling out Waffle in Brighton, Hove and beyond as soon as possible to secure awesome deals for our Wafflers everywhere.”

Testing of the service begins with select users in Brighton and Hove next week, with a full rollout to all users expected by the end of May.

To sign up to Waffle, please visit or chat to Waffle and request a pass code on

By: Patrick Reed
Last updated: Monday, 30 April 2018