Business leaders crown college Toontrepreneur

Posted On 22nd May 2015 By Nichola Taylor

A Newcastle College business student has won support from local business leaders that could see him become the next Toontrepreneur.

Jamaican born Kemoy Small, 27, who now lives in Heaton, took part in an enterprise challenge which gave one lucky student the chance to win £1000 and mentoring opportunities from local business experts.

Kemoy’s idea to create a concierge service specifically for business travellers visiting the region, impressed the Dragon’s Den style panel made up of Joe Docherty, Chief Executive of NCG, Melissa Middleton, Manager of Project North East, Mark Davies, HE Delivery Manager, NACUE and Sarah Crimmens, Freelance Social Media Manager.

Kemoy was chosen because of his outstanding pitch and presentation and the extensive market research that he had undertaken. He will now receive a series of mentoring sessions from members of the panel before using the prize money to market his business.

Commenting on his success, Kemoy said: “The main reason that I entered the competition was to get some feedback on my business idea. I knew the judges would give an honest opinion and luckily they all agreed that my idea was a good one. The business that I am planning to set up is a service which makes corporate travel time less time consuming and cheaper. I have already developed good links with local hotels, transport providers and other establishments and over time I hope that I can expand this service nationwide.”

Panelist, Sarah Crimmens, said: "Kemoy stood out as a very knowledgeable and practical business owner, with a business idea that he had tested and could prove was already working. His hard work in starting and running his business really shone through and the panel thought he would make a great success of it. His idea appeals to a solid target market of business travellers and has a lot of scope for growth both nationally and internationally.”

Melissa Middleton added: “The competition was amazingly well organised and marketed by Karl and the support he offered the students was great. The calibre of the candidates was absolutely amazing. I have never been involved in a competition such as this where I would have honestly given every single individual the money. That's one of the reason I'm happy to provide mentoring and any other help I can muster for all of them. It was incredibly difficult to choose a winner.”

The challenge was devised by Digital Skills student and President of the College’s Enterprise Society, Karl Robson. Karl worked with staff and students from across the College to develop the competition which challenged the students to come up with a business idea which they would have to pitch to the panel of experts.

The winner was announced at a special evening event attended by representatives from the business community. The event was an opportunity for students to meet employers and local entrepreneurs and discuss their ideas.

Karl said: “Kemoy did an excellent pitch. He really has a passion to become an Entrepreneur and this is exactly what I was hoping we would find when creating the event. I’m so pleased with how the event ran. There were so many great pitches from students and a real show of talent from various areas of the College.

“To see the society develop from when I created it in September and continue to grow into the success that it is today is absolutely amazing. It’s inspiring to see so many staff members and industry specialists take interest in the future of the Society and be an active part of the process. It has been an absolute pleasure to lead the Society from an idea to an icon of enterprise and collaboration and I can’t wait to see where it leads in the coming years.”

Suzanne Wainwright, Vice Principal at Newcastle College, said: “Encouraging enterprise and supporting young people to develop their own business ideas is high on our agenda as a college. It’s important for us to inspire and support students with their ideas. They are the next generation of business leaders and will make a hugely important contribution to the region in years to come. I would like to congratulate all everyone who took part and thank Karl for the fantastic work that he has done through the Enterprise Society.”