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BBC ‘Apprentice’ finalist crowns Sussex’s top young entrepreneur
Chris O’Hare is the University’s top young entrepreneur, beating more than 50 opponents to win the 2015 StartUp Sussex award.
His digital platform - Checkpoint – streamlines communications between manufacturers, retailers and end customers, and provides real-time analysis of customer demand.
Chris, who is studying for an MSc in IT with Business Management at Sussex, said that he would use the £10,000 prize money to hire more staff to his fledgling business – which has already created five jobs.
Presenting the awards in the Creativity Zone last night (Tuesday 24 March), BBC TV’s ‘The Apprentice’ finalist, Bianca Miller, said: “There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who wonder what happened,” and that entrepreneurs were firmly in the first category.
Bianca, a Sussex graduate and herself the managing director of her own start-up – personal branding enterprise Be Group – said: “Having a dream is by definition something you want to do, be or have very much.”
She added: “The way to start turning dreams into reality is to write them down and convert them into something tangible, which sets the subconscious mind into planning mode.”
Entrepreneurs need a “thick skin” and not to be afraid of setbacks, she said.
The runner-up, winning £5,000, was George Lengyel for his smartphone social-media app GeoNet, which connects users to people with similar interests in the same locality.
George, who is studying an MSc in Advanced Computer Science, said the app works like Twitter but targets what the user is currently doing. The system is already being piloted by SussexFood in the Library cafe.
In third place, winning £2,500, was Nick Musto, a second-year Maths and Economics undergraduate, for ClubRadar, a smartphone app to help students have more fun while spending less at clubs and bars.
More than 50 candidates entered the competition last year and the six finalists were chosen in January this year. The six finalists all received an intensive programme of mentoring and workshops to help them develop their business plan and pitch their idea to the judges.
Mike Herd, executive director of Sussex Innovation (SInC), the University’s business incubator, said: “There is a thirst for knowledge to understand how to be more entrepreneurial.”
Checkpoint will soon move into Sussex Innovation and all the winners will receive more business coaching. “I am looking forward to getting my idea out there,” said Chris.