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Students show their business intents

 May 9, 2014 | Simon Jenkins


A flourishing online fashion accessories store and a fledgling children’s teepee business have been named winners of the 2014 Sir Peter Thompson Enterprise Award, announced last night by the University of Leeds.

The annual event is organised by the University’s business start-up service, Spark, and is open to current students and graduates, with each winner receiving an award of £5,000 from Sir Peter Thompson, himself a serial entrepreneur and alumnus of the University.

One of this year’s two winners is Youmi & Teepee, a range of colourful teepees designed as a reading corner or indoor play den for children. Biology undergraduate Alice Colligan, pictured above, took her inspiration from thinking about ways to encourage children to read more. Her teepee designs have already been manufactured and she aims to start trading in June, once she graduates. “I’ve had fantastic support from Spark to get to this point, from the funding which has enabled the teepees to be manufactured, to training in other essential skills such as public speaking,” says Alice. “There’s been a lot of interest in my products and I’ll be using the award to build up stock and design more children’s educational homeware pieces.”

The second winner is fashion accessories website, LVNDR, a joint venture for siblings Em and Adam Sheldon. Broadcast Journalism student Em and English graduate Adam, who now works in marketing, have been trading since December 2013. LVNDR’s immediate success is due to Em’s growing reputation as a lifestyle blogger, combined with Adam’s website expertise.

“When we first approached Spark we had the idea and a website, but Spark taught us what we needed to know about how to run a successful, sustainable business,” says Em. “This award will allow us to design and manufacture a new and exclusive LVNDR accessory range. It means the world to us that Sir Peter Thompson has faith in our business – it’s really boosted our confidence. I couldn’t be happier; the University has given us so much amazing support.”

The awards are donated by Sir Peter Thompson, who also selects the winners: “It’s a task that actually gets harder each year as the quality of entrants is constantly improving,” he says. “There are a large number of enterprising businesses coming out of the University and I choose the award winners based not only on their idea but also on its potential to improve UK’s economic, social or cultural prosperity.”

Spark Business Adviser, Kairen Skelley, says: “Our two winners reflect the determination of students who work extremely hard to combine their entrepreneurial endeavours with demanding undergraduate degree courses. Sir Peter is a successful entrepreneur and business angel who recognises the inspiration and dedication required to achieve business success, and receiving his award will encourage the winners to follow in his footsteps.”