11th abril 2012
Green fingered entrepreneur and MEng student Chris gets big company backing
The sight of dead house plants in dustbins throughout suburbia might be a thing of the past thanks to a novel new product, which has won the backing of several major investment companies.
‘Otto’, a novel use of technology which reminds owners to water their house plants only when necessary, was selected as the winner of The University of Nottingham’s Student Venture Challenge.
The competition, which was set up to foster entrepreneurship among the student body, saw entrants and their proposals judged on financial feasibility and overall market awareness.
The winning product was brainchild of Mechanical Engineering student Chris Pearson, who was chosen after impressing the judges with his understanding of the market, his passion for his idea and the working prototype he had produced to demonstrate the technology in action.
Chris will now receive a £500 cash prize and the future support of judges representing Santander UK, Route to Funding Ltd, High Growth Academy and the University’s Careers and Employability Service.
After collecting his award Chris said: “Over or under watering is the biggest cause of death among house plants. I hope that my product will help people who like the idea of having plants but have, in the past, had issues growing them.”
Believing that the best results will come by developing growers’ interest, Chris now plans to develop a website, offering growing tips alongside information on the health and culinary benefits that plants hold.
He explained: “The prize money will go towards the development of the product, testing alongside a professional gardener and website design. The judges have offered great advice and I am currently working with them to get my product into the shops.”
Following the competition, organiser and EnterpriseLab Co-ordinator at the University, Dan Edge said: “Everyone involved in the competition was extremely impressed by the standard of this year’s submissions – not just the winners but from all those who took part.
“Not only did the students work hard on their entries, but some of the ideas were very innovative and have potential to be developed commercially. We hope that with the support provided by the University, some of these ideas will form the basis of successful businesses in the future.”
Second place in the competition went to Greg Burke and Marvin Plummeridge for their idea CabGrab - a taxi booking app for smartphones which locates the nearest taxi companies and enables users to place an order directly based on their preferences and others’ ratings. While third place was awarded to Alexander Hawken for his venture - The Pocket Square Company - which designs, manufactures and sells luxury pocket squares handmade in the UK.