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James Jardella giving his final pitch to judges
James Jardella giving his final pitch to judges
Photo by Nic Delves Broughton, University Photographer

Internal News - 26 March 2007

Travellingbug bites the judges in competition final

James Jardella, a second year mechanical engineering student, has won the 2007 Student Business Plan Competition for his social enterprise which allows gap year students priced-out of ‘package holiday’ volunteer placements to do charity work in a developing country.

James set up Travellingbug Ltd, which puts students in touch with a Bolivian charity that needs volunteer workers, after his own experiences on a gap year trip.

The scheme advises students on how to organise their own travel, accommodation and visa arrangements, avoiding the large fees of up to several thousand pounds issued by most ‘package holiday’ volunteering organisations.

Travellingbug’s fee of just £300, including a £100 donation to the host charity, means students can make huge savings, as well as benefiting the charity.

James impressed the panel of judges at the Student Business Plan Competition final on Thursday with his Travellingbug business plan, and beat off strong competition to claim his £1,000 first prize.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have won this competition,” said 21 year old James, originally from Kent.

“I came up with the idea for Travellingbug Ltd after planning a trip to Bolivia myself and finding that I could not afford most of the all-inclusive volunteering placements available.

“Although companies behind these placements throw everything in, including travel, insurance and accommodation, you can do all of these things yourself at a fraction of the cost, which is where Travellingbug can help with valuable guidance.”

“The competition has been a fantastic experience and I have learned a lot on the way.

“Developing the final business plan took a lot of work, but the money I have won will help support Travellingbug through this summer’s pilot trip.”

The first group of 10 volunteers will be making their way to Bolivia this summer through James’s innovative scheme to work with social justice organisation CEPROSI.

If any students are interested in taking part, a few places are still available and can apply via the Travellingbug company website (see related links).

One of the volunteers making the trip, Sol Mitchell , a second year mechanical engineering student at the University, is hoping to raise £6,000 for CEPROSI through sponsorship by taking part in a gruelling 2,300km motorcross desert race through Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

The Student Business Plan Competition aims to help students develop the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs.

Entrants are mentored through several stages of the competition by experienced business practitioners and put through a series of tests, culminating in an exciting final.

“The judges said that James gave a very passionate presentation,” said Siobain Hone, Student Enterprise Co-Ordinator in the Students’ Union.

“They felt that he had gained a lot out of the process of the competition, was very knowledgeable about his market and had put things in place to help the sustainability of Travellingbug.

“For example, he has persuaded the University to agree that a six month language student placement will take place with the charity.

“James has been all the way through the volunteer centre, the student enterprise conference and now the business plan competition to develop a very strong social enterprise.”

The competition is organised by BANTER (Bath Entrepreneurs) and Bath University Students' Union and is sponsored by the Alumni Fund, Research & Innovation Services and local accountants, business and tax consultants, Richardson Groves.

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