One year on from Tata Varsity Pitch 2020

The Tata Varsity Pitch 2021 powered by NACUE, is right around the corner with applications opening on the 2nd June.

It has been almost one year since some of UK’s brightest students and graduates participated in the virtual 2020 Varsity Pitch Grand Final. Today, you can find these innovative entrepreneurs successfully launching their businesses, growing their teams or even introducing new products and services. It is safe to say, that Tata’s Varsity Pitch competition powered by NACUE, builds an enriching foundation that allows early-stage student and graduate start-ups to flourish.

Let’s take a look at last year’s finalists and winner:

Uni Sim, Founder James Markey

Since last year’s competition, Uni Sim has launched the world’s first portable dental simulator on the back of the competition. They also went through rebranding and launching a new simulator. Based in the UK, their small team are commencing doing demos with universities around the world online.

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

For us, the aim of the game is to keep overheads extremely low to make sure we’re around to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. To do this, we terminated all office leases as the entire team is working remotely and hire space during the manufacturing and assembly process. We started distributing other simulators under our brand to clients and the commission helps us stay alive and build upon our vision in a sustainable way.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“The experience was great, getting a chance to network and make new contacts as well as get exposure for the company and push ourselves further. Thanks to these competitions we secured our first customer in Spain and got to launch the company, going from conception to a live product which is helping improve the dental education for students already.”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. We only had a concept and a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and somebody bought it. The most important thing is to make sure that your idea will actually deliver substantial benefit for its users and then get it out in front of them.”

Konglomerate Games, Founder Jamie Bankhead

Since Tata Varsity Pitch 2020 (#VP2020), Konglomerate Games have now grown to 5 full-time members of staff, with a sixth about to join them soon. They have continued to expand their contract work creating more games within healthcare and education field. When asked, ‘Where are you currently with your startup?’, the founder Jamie Bankhead shared, “I think we are in the early stages of organically growing the company.

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

“For us the biggest thing that we have done to be resilient is to shift our focus from our own IP and main project onto contract work creating serious games for various clients, which has kept our growth and development sustainable.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

The whole Tata Varsity Pitch experience was a lot of fun and the networking with the other finalists and Tata experts was fantastic.” Jamie says his highlight of last year’s competition was the bootcamp day 1 in particular, “day long one-to-one sessions with various Tata experts was really helpful to get different perspectives on how to solve some of our problems moving forward.”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“For future finalists I would say do your research and learn the judges backgrounds to pre-empt questions but make sure to pitch as a story and to enjoy it because the passion will show!”

AC Biode, Co-founder Robert Kunzmann

Last year, AC Biode entered the Tata Varsity Pitch 2020 (#VP2020) with just an idea concept and a small promising prototype, aiming to radically improve batteries for E-Mobility. Since Tata #VP2020, they have now managed to raise €200,000 from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and apply for several patents.

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

We have split our efforts into two areas: 1) development of the AC Biode and 2) entering Startup Competitions. The two go hand-in-hand.

Talking to as many people from all fields as early as possible, allowed us to set the focus right and be investment ready.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“The Tata Varsity Pitch, powered by NACUE, supported us in the creation of the business model, plan and pitch. Although we didn´t win the cash prize we found it valuable and recommend all new founders to join!”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“One piece of advice is to enjoy all stages of the competition and make friends with the other participants.”

NexaCath, Co-Founder Reza Sarwary

One year on from Tata Varsity Pitch 2020, NexaCath have gotten further with prototyping as well as improving on their business model. They are now in position to actively seek to gain seed funding.

Reza says his highlight of last year’s competition was “getting into the final, the semi-final was tense with lots of strong competition and it was incredibly close, but we managed to pull through.”

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

“It has been tough especially since we are a healthcare startup, nonetheless this has pushed us to keep going on with it.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“Getting into the final was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of it, the two-day bootcamp was also very useful and taught us a lot.”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“Be prepared, know your product and company well and remain confident.”

Project Stealth Tech, Co-founder Beren Kayali, Online Peoples’ Vote Winner

A year has flown by for Project Stealth Tech, the Tata Varsity Pitch #VP2020 Online Peoples’ Vote Winners whom received 19,146 votes, the highest in the competition’s history. What a phenomenal accomplishment!

Beren says her highlight of last year’s competition was “wining the Online Peoples’ Vote after a really stressful couple of weeks. It was amazing to finally be acknowledged as winners for something we put so much effort into.”

Since Tata Varsity Pitch 2020 (#VP2020), Project Stealth Tech are re-evaluating their positioning and development and are currently collaborating with Loughborough University to test their product with athletes.

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

“We learned how to work remotely. Actually, we never got a taste of being face-to-face in the start-up world, so this is all we know now.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“For us it was intense since we won the Online Peoples’ Vote. We made the most out of the bootcamp and it was a fantastic opportunity to perfect our story telling and get some business validation.”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“Focus on a greater impact and have a compelling business plan.”

Post Carbon Lab, Co-founder Dian-Jen Lin

It has been a challenging but very exciting year for Post Carbon Lab! Since winning the Tata #VP2020, they’ve managed to achieve a few R&D milestones, upscale their production capacity by 15%, and launched their collaboration with EgonLab & DS at Paris Fashion Week. Oh, and Post Carbon Lab are now growing their sustainability-driven team!!!

Post Carbon Lab’s technology has a wide application potential and are currently in the process of exploring its full scope. They are piloting with multiple businesses from different sectors within the textile industry, from textile manufacturers to automotive.

How did you demonstrate resilience and navigate your start-up in the ongoing pandemic crisis in the last year or so?

“It’s an unprecedented time for us as well. Luckily, we are a lean, small and agile team that makes pivoting, adapting and evolving more easily than well-established corporates. As a nascent start-up, there are always millions of things waiting to be done. When the world delays or denies us for progressing in one direction, we can simply pivot towards a slightly different orientation and work further in that area. Therefore, no time, money or energy was wasted in the end.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“We are very grateful for the kind mentors and the support we have received through Tata Varsity Pitch and NACUE.
It was very helpful for us to hear critical feedback from industry professionals, as well as learning from their experiences. We came in with zero expectations but learned invaluable things along the way and even won the competition in the end. It still feels unreal!”

What advice would you give to people applying for Tata #VP2021?

“There’s nothing to lose by putting yourself out there. It is definitely daunting and nerve-wracking, but it’ll always be that way as long as you’d like to build something of your own from scratch rather than piggybacking on other people’s success. Even if you fail, even if you don’t win, it’ll still add to the odds of finally winning something at a future date.”

Looking back, what’s the stand out highlight been for you over this entire process and why?

“It was the moment that Yani called us and told us that we won the competition, while we were ready to clap for the success of other startups! We still recall the comments and feedback of the judges from that day and try our best to fulfil them so that we can grow and sustain the uncertain future.”

Applications are now open for the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2021, powered by NACUE. You can find all the information on the NACUE website here, including how to make your 60-second elevator pitch the best it can be!

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