Website for student digs abroad wins business plan competition

A novel idea of helping UK students find accommodation abroad has won this year's student business plan competition run by the University of Bath.

James Zorab took first prize of £1,000 for his website concept entitled UK Students Abroad, designed to help students on placements in Europe search for accommodation for free.

Four finalists presented their business plans to a panel of business judges. They were mentored through the final stages of the competition by experienced local business practitioners.

James, a 23 year-old final year International Management & Modern Languages student, got his inspiration for UK Students Abroad from his own experience of being on placement in Paris and looking for somewhere to live. On discovering there was no tailored support for students he set up his own small site for other students from Bath to use.

The success of this website led him to develop his business plan for hosting rental properties from agencies and private landlords located in major French, German, Spanish and Italian cities, allowing students to browse suitable properties online and make direct contact with the agency or landlord.

James said: "I'm very happy to win the competition. I've thoroughly enjoyed it and have learnt a lot about putting together a business plan. It's been great to get the chance to work with a mentor. I'm looking forward to using the prize money to develop my idea further."

Gavin Eddy, chair of the judging panel and local entrepreneur who runs the Frome-based Forward Space company said: 'I have been astounded by the quality of the entries this year. Any of the four finalists would easily have been a winner in previous years.'

Fellow judge Colin Clarkson-Short, a partner at Deloitte, said 'Deloitte are keen to continue our sponsorship of the business plan competition next year'.

The other finalists were: Victoria Luxem, pitching Rent a Pot!, a company offering a rental service of kitchen utensils to students at various universities in the United Kingdom; James Jardella with a free-source bicycle trailer design franchise; and Will Hammersley and Chris  Hannaway with Fro Yo, a natural, healthy and locally sourced frozen yoghurt.

The competition is organised by the University of Bath's Entrepreneurs Club, BANTER, and the University of Bath Students' Union and is sponsored by Deloitte.

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