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UEL graduate ‘overwhelmed’ by £20,000 prize after winning E-factor 2016

UEL graduate ‘overwhelmed’ by £20,000 prize after winning E-factor 2016

University of East London (UEL) graduate Mahyar Rahmantalab has secured a £20,000 investment package for his fledgling company, Pomegranate, which connects local food producers with influential chefs.

Mahyar won the lucrative prize after triumphing in the grand final of the University's annual E-Factor business ideas contest, which was held in Canary Wharf on May 11.

E-Factor is open to UEL students and graduates. In a Dragons' Den-style showdown, Mahyar beat off competition from four rival finalists as each of the budding entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a judging panel of industry experts in front of a packed audience.

The judges saw a clear business opportunity in Mahyar's pitch and are looking forward to seeing more local high-quality organic and biodynamic fruits and vegetables reaching the dinner tables of London's top restaurants.

Mahyar, who graduated from UEL with a degree in Music Industry Management before turning his attention to the food business, described his victory as "unbelievable" and "overwhelming".

The £20,000 start-up package prize includes funding, business support and a tenancy at the University's Knowledge Dock Business and Innovation Centre, based at its Docklands campus, where Mahyar will be working closely with the UEL Enterprise team in an entrepreneurial environment.

Timothy Isle, a member of the UEL Enterprise team, said, "Receiving money is always important for a business but the support they get through our business idea incubation process is of much more value than just winning a cash prize,"

"We've given a lot of extra support to the participants in this year's process, including taking them through a series of workshops, a boot camp, a pitching workshop and a month of individualized mentoring."

Mahyar said the biggest challenge had been trying to juggle the development of his business idea with a hectic working week but the effort had been more than worthwhile.

"The best thing about E-Factor was that it allowed me to stress-test my idea in this incubator," said Mahyar. "Now I'm going to go ahead and make my business happen."

Julian Dominque took the E-Factor runner-up prize with his business Fit-2-Work, which delivers a range of workplace wellness solutions. Julian's prize was a £6,000 start-up package.

The third prize of £5,000 worth of investment went to The Sick 6, run by Idans Zalmansons and Christopher Heath. This is an online music hub that helps independent artists gain global exposure to both new listeners and record labels.

Two other business ideas also walked away with £4,500 start-up packages. These were Bespoke Sports Services, a sports management consultancy run by William Ashby and Dougie Bennett, and, a website for event organisers to book musicians and musical stage equipment, which is the brainchild of Sofiri Stewart