Newcastle University student, John Cornilious, wins regional final of Barclays Local Genius
John Cornilious is a final year Biomedical Sciences student who presently holds the role of Student Enterprise Ambassador for the School of Biomedical Sciences. He has been undertaking various entrepreneurship activities both on and off-campus. Recently, John entered the Barclays Local Genius (BLG) competition with his charity concept; Pamba Pedu. BLG is a platform for student entrepreneurs with tech-based and socially responsible ideas throughout the U.K. to receive professional training and compete for experienced mentorship and potential funding.
Pamba Pedu means “Our house” in Shona, a common language in Zimbabwe. The concept is a digital platform that will enable victims of domestic violence to find free overnight accommodation whenever they do not feel safe. Organisations of faith, hotels and registered foster parents (to name a few) can register their rooms in a volunteer capacity on the platform. Victims will be able to view these options and select suitable refuge based on factors such as distance. The mobile App will also be a comprehensive directory of available resources, including counselling, and network for support with other victims.
In the regional heats, held in Radbroke, there were six teams. The range of ideas pitched to the judging panel of senior Barclays staff and external entrepreneurs, were diverse, each tackling very different problems. Amongst the competitors were projects such as CharityPick; a mobile application that lets you search for a cause which matters to you and find local charities engaging in that cause – a trivago for charities. It is mutually beneficial as it gives a voice to local charities struggling to create awareness and visibility, and empowers the donors to choose the right charity for them and donate flexibly. Another project was Stooswap: a platform allowing students to swap their rooms on a temporary basis. For example, if a student from Manchester is travelling to London and another student from London is travelling to Manchester in the same period, Stooswap connects the two students so they both get a free place to stay. This way the student community has another avenue for enhancing connection and social experience through travel with no accommodation cost.
The participants concurred that BLG availed a special opportunity to practice pitching skills and consider all the aspects of a business as part of the planning process. Stooswap told John that they have learnt how they can improve their idea. CharityPick said, “We would recommend students across the UK to participate in Local Genius even if you’re not entirely sure about embarking on the entrepreneurial path as it has a lot to offer.” The feedback from the judges was specific for each idea and this was immensely useful. John will now go forward to the national final in London on the 10th April to compete against other regional finalist and runner up teams. Good luck John!