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Nick Smith (left) receiving his prize from Ian Dale-Staples, Sulis Seedcorn Fund
Nick Smith (left) receiving his prize from Ian Dale-Staples, Sulis Seedcorn Fund

Press Release - 27 May 2005

Losing a door key will no longer be a crisis

Losing a door key could be less of a problem in the future, thanks to the winner of the University of Bath’s 2005 business plan competition.

Within an hour of receiving a phone call for help, Kiwi Assurance promises to deliver keys to the doorstep of stranded individuals who have locked themselves out and can’t get into their homes.

Customers simply have to register their key with Kiwi Assurance who will store a digitised image of it which can be used to produce the real thing when needed.

The idea is the brainchild of Nick Smith - a former MBA student at the University of Bath - who won a cheque for £5,000 at the final of the competition earlier this week.

The competition - which is sponsored by the Sulis Seedcorn Fund and open to all staff, students and recent graduates from the University - gives entrants the chance to develop entrepreneurial skills whilst developing an idea for a product or business.

“I came up with the idea after closing the door to my new flat and realising that nobody had a spare key, and if I locked myself out it would be a big problem,” said Nick.

“Fortunately I have never locked myself out - but I would probably one of Kiwi’s best customers as it is something I am terrified about doing.

“The competition has given me real confidence in the idea. It is always useful to have experienced business people and entrepreneurs tell you that it is worth going ahead.

“I have put a lot of work into this project over the last year, and I am now keen to partner with insurance companies to take the idea forward.”

Nick won the competition after pitching his idea to a panel of leading experts from the world of business at the competition final this week.

He had to go head-to-head with three other business ideas which included second-place Secure@ease, a system which prevents mobile phones from working and alerts cinema owners and hospital staff when a mobile is switched on in the building.

The other finalists included Vivid Training - a DVD based IT training company - and Peadat which produces fitness training equipment.

Ian Dale-Staples, a member of the Investment Advisory Board for the Sulis Seedcorn Fund, the main sponsor of the competition, said, "The entries were of a very high standard and all the finalists have the potential to make successful businesses.

“Sulis has always keenly supported this competition because it raises awareness of enterprise and commercial opportunities in the University community, as well as being capable of delivering sound new business ideas."

Previous winners include former University of Bath students Alister Rollins and Bruce de Groote who set up the Bath-based company, Fitronics, following their involvement in the competition in 2002.

Their company now provides gym members with an electronic system for tracking their activities and goals, and alerts gym staff when their customers are dropping behind or look likely to cancel their membership.

Shashank Garg, one of last year's winners who represented the University in the recent Winner of Winner's Competition against other universities, said, “The competition has given me lots of useful contacts both inside and outside the university.

“It has raised the profile of my business with prospective funders and helped me to tap into valuable support mechanisms within the University.”

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