Every year the King’s Entrepreneurial Institute hosts the Idea Factory Pitch-Off. Ten new start-ups pitch to judges for a portion of the £6,000 pot of prize money, which will be used to help turn their ideas into reality.
Four students from the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine (FoLSM) were finalists in this year’s Idea Factory Pitch-off. In the end, three of them took home an award. We caught up with some of the FoLSM winners and explored their start-ups in more detail.
Olutosin Kirya was one of the Pitch-off winners. She pitched the consultation software EVYN, which aims to help dieticians craft diet plans for their patients. EVYN was inspired by the fact that, traditionally, research has been biased towards Western cultures and cuisines, meaning dieticians can struggle to create diet plans tailored to patients used to non-Western cuisines.
I want to make sure that when EVYN is fully functioning, it has the flexibility and capability to work for everyone, everywhere. That's really what the funding will do in essence, helping me get up from the ground floor.– Olutosin Kirya
Kirya hopes EVYN will bring together the health care worker’s nutritional knowledge with their patient’s cultural backgrounds. The app will help create meal plans with personalised graphics, designed around food goals instead of setting calorie targets. With the prize money Kirya will continue developing the software and begin testing with target communities.
The other FoLSM-based Pitch-off winner was Re-sept – a modern haircare brand creating hair products by combining scientific insights with Aurveda principles. Its founder, Shikha Doorvashi Ramjutan, wanted to help people who lack the knowledge, as well as the right products, to take care of their scalp.
Re-sept is aiming to develop three hero products (hair oil, mask, scalp serum) made from Aurveda-inspired ingredients, whose benefits have been corroborated scientifically.
I am honoured to be one of the winners of King’s Idea factory! The EI institute has provided endless support to get my idea through the different stages of validation and help develop my entrepreneurial skills.– Shikha Doorvashi Ramjutan
Shikha already has a 12,000 person following on her Instgram @themedixpharmacist who benefit from her scalp and haircare advice. She aims to build brand awareness with this social media presence and digital marketing expertise, before launching Re-sept’s products in online beauty retailers and pharmacies in 2023.
However, the judge’s award wasn’t the only prize on offer. The People’s Choice Award allows the public to vote for their favourite pitch to receive £2,000 funding, as well as mentoring with experts from the Head of Entrepreneurial Skills.
It was Mercy Ofuya who stood out to the audience, receiving the People’s Choice Award for Mami: a mobile app designed to help women living in Nigeria identify breast cancer. The app sends monthly reminders for checks, provides breast examination tools, and can connect people to support services through a SMS service.
The platform is designed for women who would otherwise receive critically late diagnoses due to a lack of knowledge, time, and access regular screening services. With the new funding and support, Mercy hopes to develop and test the product, as well as begin user engagement programmes for Mami.