With the UCFB Sports Entrepreneur Competition set to return for a fourth consecutive year, we thought we’d highlight some of the previous winners and see how their businesses are getting on.

UCFB graduate Liam Kiziltan set up EQUIP following his pitch to the judging panel, a company which aims to use sport as a way to improve people’s lives through healthy and active scenarios…

How has winning the cash prize helped you to progress your business since you won?

The cash prize made starting my business possible. I had a great idea, but I would never have been able to afford to start my business, EQUIP, without the money that was provided. Initially, the prize money was spent on my company website, marketing materials and equipment. Over the last three years the company has grown, and I now manage a team of 15 staff members, have reached over 150 children with our own camps and have delivered EQUIP initiatives to over 2,000 children in partnership with schools.

How invaluable has the expertise and help from Brendan Flood been?

I would say that the expertise of Brendan is even more valuable than the financial input. As a young entrepreneur, I was creative and motivated, but there was still a lot for me to learn. Brendan regularly met with me to help plan out the strategic direction of the company and prepared me for some of the challenges I was going to face going forwards. I have made a great contact in Brendan and I know he is still available to gain advice.

How would you describe the experience of presenting to the competition board?

I would say it is a once in a lifetime experience, but I entered twice in my three years at UCFB! The first time I won a financial prize, and during my second entry I won a best project prize. My experience of the competition is that it is very much like the sports version of Dragon’s Den. It is challenging and competitive, and for me presenting in front of a board with so much experience taught me how to hone my communication skills. It has given me the confidence that I can present in front of anyone.

Please can you describe how you came up with your business idea and why?

I believe that the power of sport can be used to help people, therefore, I developed a range of initiatives under the name of EQUIP that I believed would make a difference in the lives of people. EQUIP has a vision which values people and has a passion for seeing them develop and fulfill their potential. We contribute to the understanding and improvement of key life skills that are vital for young people to live a healthy, active lifestyle and to progress into positive members of society. We started with sport, but now deliver a wide range of activities. You can check out what we do by following @equipcoachingUK on Twitter or by visiting our website www.equipcoaching.co.uk.

What’s your message to students thinking of entering the 2019 edition?

I would tell any students who are thinking of entering to grab the opportunity with both hands! You need to make sure you think seriously about your idea and how you can present it in an engaging and impressive style to make Brendan and his fellow board members take notice. It is an experience that you cannot afford to miss out on, so make the most of it!

Entries can be from individuals or groups of students, with the following information provided:

  • Proposed name of business venture;
  • Names of student(s) involved;
  • Detailed business plan with a breakdown of known costs.

UCFB Wembley entrants should email their details to s.fitzjohn@ucfb.com, and UCFB Etihad Campus entrants to m.halliday@ucfb.com, by Tuesday January 31stat 5pm. The shortlisted groups will then be notified and invited to present to the panel in early March, with the date to be confirmed.