Seven start-up businesses are sharing £20,000 as winners of the University of Hertfordshire’s annual business start-up competition, flare. The winners of the competition were revealed on Thursday 10 October at an awards dinner held in the Forum, Hertfordshire.
Two top prizes were awarded to business graduate Klerissa McDonald and student business partners Chloe Hackney, Lauren Ash and Jacquelyn Bond-Vaughan, who beat off competition from over 100 entrants to win £5,000 each. Klerissa took the coveted title of ‘Best Business’ for her hair care company, Curly By Nature, whilst the girls won the title of ‘Most Innovative Idea’ for their pet treats business, Petilicious.   

On winning, Hertfordshire based Chloe said: “I’m absolutely speechless; it really hasn’t sunk in yet. We’ve learnt so much from the competition process and have gained confidence in ourselves and the business. It’s great to know how much support the University offers student businesses. We’re going to use the money to create a website, develop a cat range and continue testing our products.”

Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) and Director of Marketing and Communications at the University said: “We are committed to supporting entrepreneurial spirit and the flare competition provides excellent support to help students and graduate entrepreneurs launch their business ideas. This year’s competition had some outstanding entries and all of the winning businesses have real potential; we are really excited to see how they develop.”
The final £10,000 was split between five other winners. Prizes were awarded to Ivaylo Danev, a Creative Arts student for his app idea Wintailor, Business School graduate Peter Kelleher for his social enterprise ‘smarterthinking’, and Marketing and Economics graduate Beverly Banahene for her start-up business Bev’s Cookie Desserts. The final two prizes were awarded to Genevieve Boyake for her cosmetic brand Knotty By Nature and Holly Paine and Elliot Rasberry for their illustration company Holly Francesca. Each winner will also receive one year's free membership to the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry and office space in the University’s Incubation Centre.

Thirteen finalists went head to head to impress the judges in a live pitch event before the seven winners were selected by judges Yolanda Rugg, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Amanda Freeland, Business Consultant and Growth Hub manager of Exemplas, and serial entrepreneur Syd Nadim, who received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire last year.

Over 650 people have entered the competition since its launch eight years ago. In that time over £100,000 has been awarded to 25 finalists.