Two students have received £1,000 prize money at Kent Business School’s Business Start-Up Journey Finals for their automated plant-watering product, Plantix.
The 15-week, co-curricular Business Start-Up Journey is open to all Kent students interested in setting-up their own business and gaining entrepreneurial skills.
The Journey, which is based in the ASPIRE (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Enterprise) space in the Sibson building, Canterbury, and at the Medway campus, provides a step-by-step guide to starting a business, teaching students skills that are required to be a successful entrepreneur.
In the thrilling finals held on Wednesday 6 April 2022, students from across the University were competing to win the prize fund to invest in their product via a Dragons Den style pitch to a panel of judges.
The winning students were Computer Science student Lorenzo Chinole and Artificial Intelligence student Simona Paraskevopoulou, who together developed Plantix – a plant self-watering device designed and made by the founders with an app sending notifications to ‘plant parents’. The idea was inspired by saving house plants that were ‘left to the mercy of busy homeowners’.
‘Plantix is aimed at people who accidentally kill their plants by not watering them due to their busy lifestyle, everyday distractions, or lack of knowledge about their plants’ proper care,’ Simona explained.
‘Lorenzo first developed the product as part of an Internet of Things course at the University. Later, we started seeing the device as a solid business idea, so I developed the application prototype and designed all things branding. Since then, we have improved the device, sourced new components, and continued working on the product to make it look presentable and user-friendly.’
The duo aims to use their winning funds to ensure Plantix is fault-proof before they release it to market.
Lorenzo said: ‘We want to help people fully enjoy all the benefits that come with owning a plant. We will continue improving the quality of the product through research and development. After that, we will extensively test its performance. Finally, once we get satisfactory testing results, we will be ready to launch.’
The judges were: Alan Grogan, Global lead for Microsoft Azure Data Platforms; Laura Bounds MBE, owner of Kent Crisps; Dean Johnson, CEO at Haag-Streit UK; Emay Enemokwu, founder of JEHUCAL; Nadia Esi, founder of Nu Elefa; Adam Bryan, CEO at South East Local Enterprise Partnership; and Daniel Rubin, founder and the CEO of the Dune Group.
Daniel Rubin, who was also Head of the Judging Panel, said: ‘It was a difficult task to choose the winner this year. It’s impressive that all finalists were focused on sustainability.’
Second place went to Law student Saif Aleem cotton and hemp blend fabric business idea, Better Fabrics. Third place went to Toufan Bracke and Rens Van Steenes from KBS, founders of The Vanquish – a sustainable online marketplace powered by the next generation of blockchain technology.