LSST’s Deputy CEO awards £4,000 to three student Dragons’ Den winners

Kunal Chan Mehta

By Kunal Chan Mehta | Article Date: 8 March 2021

Nathalie Duga wins first place and £2,000 for her farming business (LSST Marketing)

Three enterprising students were awarded £4,000 at the annual LSST Dragons’ Den themed competition which hopes to crown upcoming business stars.

Finalists remotely pitched their incredibly impressive business plans to a panel of LSST’s senior managers and innovators, via virtual link.

To further help support the business proposals, each winner went on to receive substantial bonus awards totalling £4,000 from Mr Mohammed Zaidi, LSST’s Deputy CEO.

All participants also received, via post, a formal LSST certificate for their portfolios.

‘Our panel were incredibly enthralled by the dynamism and depth of understanding demonstrated by all of our finalists, and selecting our winners was incredibly challenging,’ said Mr Mohammed Zaidi. ‘Each winner should be extremely proud of their achievements and be confident that the Dragons’ Den themed competition will assist them in their future careers.’

‘My fellow Dragons and I were hugely impressed by the quality of the business ideas that were presented,’ said Dr Wendy Wigley, LSST’s Head of Student Enhancement and Life-cycle. ‘I wholeheartedly congratulate each winner and look forward to seeing their business plans blossom. Once again, the event has demonstrated the vibrant entrepreneurial student culture within LSST.’

The winners of LSST’s Dragons’ Den 2021

First Place: Nathalie Duga, Public Health student (foundation year), Elephant and Castle Campus, wins £2000 for her Maisha Development Network (MDN) business – an integrated agropastoral and fish farm located in Kisangani (Democratic Republic of the Congo) aiming to support local farmers and their families.

Second Place: Estera Lozneanu, Business Management student (foundation year), Aston Campus, wins £1300 for her mesmerising ‘Hoop Trash’ business that aims to reuse cardboard box gift packaging sustainably and creatively for children play.

Third Place: Zara Chaudhury, Business student (year 3), Luton Campus, wins £700 for her new candle business, Zee’s fire, that makes beautifully scented and visually stunning artisan candles.

Original competition poster calling students to apply (LSST Marketing/Nasir Bashir)

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Competition first place winner, Nathalie Duga, Public Health student, said: ‘I am celebrating International Women’s Day today and I am delighted that this year’s competition was dominated by women winners. Taking part in this competition has been an amazing experience. I feel compelled to thank everyone at LSST for allowing me to get to this stage in my life and for giving me the confidence to thrive. I am confident my business concept and research skills will be immensely improved because of this very generous investment.’

Estera Lozneanu, Business Management student, commented: ‘The Dragons’ Den themed event was empowering, and I stood my ground when the panel questions became intense. I stuck up for my business idea and felt proud while doing so. I would like to thank LSST’s amazing lecturers for giving me the confidence and knowledge to do get to this stage.’

Zara Chaudhury, Business student, added: ‘This investment will transform my idea into a reality. Thank you to the LSST for the insightful advice and funds that will take me to the next step of launching my candle business.’

Jubilant winner: Zara Chaudhury, Business student, Luton campus after £700 investment award for her artisan candle business (LSST Marketing)

During their 20-minute presentation, students contended to convince the panel of the soundness of their business plans by providing details of their ideas, costings, sales projections and sustainability.

The event provided students with valuable feedback from panel members on the practicality of their business proposals. Students were also given in-depth advice on how to progress with their proposals in the immediate future.

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