Alumna’s equestrian clothing brand claims biggest prize at annual Flare Ignite competition

3 November 2021

Flare Ignite is a highly competitive annual enterprise competition giving budding Herts students and alumni the opportunity to access entrepreneurial support and training to bring their business ideas to life.

Meet the 2021 alumni winners

Sophia Roberts

Alumna Sophia Roberts (BA (Hons) Philosophy with French and Religious Studies, 2020) was the big winner at this year’s Flare Ignite awards, winning the Scalable Business award and taking home £3,500 for her equestrian clothing company.

Sophia’s business, Wisdom Equestrian, was launched to fill a gap in the market for practical, comfortable and durable flattering shapewear clothing for horse riders. The Scalable Business Award, supported by Santander Universities UK, recognises the entrepreneur with the strongest plan on how they will approach the market and scale quickly.

Speaking about the competition, Sophia said, “I’m so grateful for this award and to be part of the Flare Ignite competition. The £3,500 will support one of the most critical stages of my business – the final samples. These will be replicated for bulk production and will be used for marketing, securing pre-orders, and presenting my products online and in-store to retailers.”

Read Sophia's story

Shola Odusanya

Creative Arts alumna, Shola Odusanya (BA (Hons) Fashion, 2019), won the Lifestyle Business of the Year award, taking home £2,000 for her fashion business SIDIKATU. Her business offers bespoke plus-size evening wear in luxurious and sustainable fabric, designed and produced in Shola’s own home-based studio.

Kim Everitt

The Social Impact award was given to Herts alumna Kim Everitt, (BEng (Hons) Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, 2018), who won £2,000 for her business SENDplan. SENDplan is a special education needs and disability support service, that helps parents with their children’s development outside of school by finding answers to their questions and offering structured support. Kim really enjoyed taking part in the Flare Ignite competition and said, “Completing my business model allowed me to really push myself and see the validity of my idea and how it could all come to fruition.”

Read Kim's story

Eseroghene George Esir

There were two Engineering in Business Awards presented on the night sponsored by Engineers in Business Fellowship. The first was won by Eseroghene George Esiri (BEng Aerospace Engineering, 2018). His business, Herts Drone Solution Ltd, uses cutting-edge drone technology to deliver bespoke aerial solutions for the construction, media and farming sectors.

Sidney Prince Barasa and Madung Dung

The second Engineering in Business Award was won by Sidney Prince Barasa and Madung Dung, (both BEng (Hons) Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, 2019). Their business, Situal Cave, integrates simulation and virtual reality to give people the experience of driving down a racetrack.

Ammar Malik and Shujaat Khan 

The coveted People’s Choice award, which was voted for by the public, was won by Hertfordshire Law School graduates Ammar Malik and Shujaat Khan (LLB (Hons), 2020) who took home the £500 prize for their start-up agency, Stenrock Recruitment Co. Both Ammar and Shujaat found the Flare Ignite competition process very rewarding.

They said, “The competition was an intriguing challenge and experience for us as it made us aware of concepts in business which we were previously not aware of and made us understand our business industry more in depth. We enjoyed the continuous help the Enterprise team assisted us with throughout the whole Flare Ignite journey, including the provision of valuable information, one-to-one mentorship, and giving us the confidence to believe and achieve in our business.”

Read Ammar and Shujaat's story

Also, huge congratulations to the group of Humanities students, Rosie Grant, Olivia Phillips, Jenny Brennan and Bethany Arnold who won the award for Innovation and Impact. The award was given for their digital platform Uplifted Magazine, which publishes beauty, fashion and lifestyle advice to women living with challenging illnesses.

More about the Flare Ignite competition

Professor Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and International Development, University of Hertfordshire said: “The University of Hertfordshire is an enterprising institution at its heart. We power businesses of all sizes and across different sectors by opening our campus to entrepreneurs, supporting and encouraging student, graduate, and external start-ups and spinouts.

Through this, we share our expertise, knowledge, facilities, and equipment whilst facilitating strong ‘communities of practice’ – boosting business growth and the regional economy. The Flare Ignite competition is one of the ways in which we encourage entrepreneurship at the start of the student journey – nurturing talent from enrolment, through to graduation and beyond.

“Congratulations to our winners of this year’s competition and to all the entries that took part. It has certainly been a challenging period for small businesses; they have had to overcome numerous obstacles over the past year to get to this point. We are so proud of them, and I’d like to wish them all success in their entrepreneurial journeys.”

Flare Ignite is generously supported by donations to our Enterprise Fund. Find out more about the Enterprise Fund and how to support us.

The competition is open to students and graduates, up to four years from completing their studies. Expressions of interest will be open in the new year. Find out more about the Flare Ignite awards

Support for your great business idea

If you graduated within the last four years you can take advantage of the free support available to you from our Enterprise Team.  You can find out more about how they can help on their website (you will need to use your log to view)


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