Chris O’Hare has been named the University of Sussex’s top young entrepreneur out of a pool of more than 50 fellow students, winning the 2015 StartUp Sussex Award and £10,000 to develop his business.
His digital platform, Checkpoint, streamlines communications between manufacturers, retailers and end customers, and provides real time analysis of customer demand.
Chris, who is studying for an MSc in IT with Business Management at Sussex, said that he would use the prize money to hire more staff to his fledgling business – which has already created five jobs.
Presenting the awards at the University’s Creativity Zone on Tuesday evening, BBC TV’s The Apprentice finalist, Bianca Miller, said: “There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who wonder what happened,” adding that entrepreneurs were firmly in the first category.
Bianca, who is herself an alumna of the University and founder of personal branding enterprise Be Group, said: “Having a dream is by definition something you want to do, be or have very much. The way to start turning dreams into reality is to write them down and convert them into something tangible.” Entrepreneurs need a “thick skin” and not to be afraid of setbacks, she added.
Runner-up, winning £5,000, was George Lengyel, a postgraduate in Advanced Computer Science, for his social media app GeoNet, which connects users to people with similar interests in the same locality.
Second runner-up, winning £2,500, was Nick Musto, a second-year Maths and Economics undergraduate, for ClubRadar, a smartphone app to help students have more fun while spending less at clubs and bars.
Mike Herd, Executive Director of the Centre and chair of the StartUp Sussex judging panel, said: “There is a thirst for knowledge to understand how to be more entrepreneurial. One of the great things about Brighton is it keeps so many of its graduates in the city, so if we embed that entrepreneurial culture within those graduates then they bring that zeal, and new businesses and new enterprise into the city.”
Checkpoint will soon move into the Centre as a tenant, and all of the winners will receive further business coaching from the support team. “I’m thrilled at this opportunity to demonstrate our talent at hare.digital,” said Chris. “I can’t wait to grow our business, create new jobs and get the idea out there.
“Aside from the money, this competition gives young people the confidence to grow a business from scratch, to get the answers to those questions that you can’t answer on your own, to know whether you have a viable business. You need that confidence to go forward.”