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Wellness company with sights on the US market wins UEL’s E-Factor 2018

MA Psychology student Jessica O-George gets £6.000 in cash and prizes for her business 

Jessica O-George, founder of holistic wellness company The Art of Life, has won E-Factor 2018, the University of East London’s (UEL) flagship entrepreneurship competition. 

Jessica, who is pursuing an MA in Psychology at UEL, was announced as the winner at the E-Factor finale on 24 May at the London Bishopsgate headquarters of NatWest bank, which sponsored the event.

Jessica was chosen over four other talented finalists who were in turn selected from a field of over 200 entrants.

Speaking immediately after winning, Jessica (pictured above with UEL's Dr Lisa Mooney, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange) said, “I’m genuinely shocked and surprised. All the finalists did really well, so I’m very grateful.” 

The Art of Life is a wellness and lifestyle consultancy which brings together a range of experts in health and wellbeing, with a common goal of helping women live well. 

Jessica said, “It’s a 360 degree approach to wellness. The Art of Life provides evidence-based education, lifestyle services and community for women.

“Our goal is to support women in cultivating a life of greater meaning, connection, fulfilment and purpose, and to inspire women to personalise wellness into their own routines and daily practices, prioritising mental well-being alongside ambitious living.”

The company plans to offer a range of membership options to suit different budgets. Amenities will include events, workshops and one-to-one sessions, as well as the option of having a dedicated lifestyle manager to provide customised nutrition plans, time management advice, and/or personalised coaching to identify and reach specific health and lifestyle goals.

Jessica, who has several years of experience as a fashion stylist, creative and lifestyle consultant, said she was looking forward to launching her new website and initial membership options in the coming months. 

She said, “In a year’s time I’d like to see the business being successful in New York and Los Angeles. And of course I’ll be back here at E-Factor 2019 to support next year’s finalists!” 

On the night of the final, Jessica saw off competition from four other business start-up finalist teams to win the £6,000 first prize, which includes office space at UEL’s Knowledge Dock business centre, cash, and mentoring.

Each of the five start-ups had three minutes to pitch their business plan to a panel of expert judges, who quizzed finalists before deliberating to pick a winner. 

Panel judge Gary Stewart, Director of start-up accelerator Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future UK, and a UEL governor, said Jessica’s idea is promising. 

He said, “Her business idea is really impressive. It’s what investors are looking for at the moment, and it’s what the market wants, whether that be the NHS, pharmaceutical companies, or investors. 

“She has come up with an idea that the market wants right now.”

Mr Stewart also revealed that the quality of business proposals on the night had spurred him to start discussions with several of the finalists about how he could support them going forwards.

Sophie Newnes, a UEL alumna who won E-Factor 2014 with WOMMA, a martial arts clothing line for women, hosted the competition. 

UEL’s Dr Lisa Mooney, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, announced the winners and handed over trophies and the winning cheque.  

Jemima Garthwaite and Rebecca Dove’s British timber trading platform One Thing Well took second place; third place went to James Edmund’s sport venue safety wall Rebound Board; fourth place was

Evans Mensah’s waffle sandwich service Laaghas; and rounding off the group was Saphsa Codling’s dining concept Cocktails and Macarons.

Other judges on the panel included Nick Howe, NatWest’s Regional Enterprise Manager; Timothy Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes; Alex Wilding, co-founder of VidiCrew, which won E-Factor 2017; and Janette Withey, managing director of Quay People and a UEL Governor. 

This year’s E-Factor journey began in February, with over 200 applicants bidding for a chance to turn their business idea into reality.

As the evening closed, Rebecca Coppock, UEL’s enterprise manager, shared her hopes for the future of E-Factor. 

She said, “The commercial awareness of the students has been outstanding, and the support they’ve had and will get to help grow their businesses is fantastic. 

“My plan now, is to really grow the vision of E-Factor. I want to see thousands more entrepreneurial students like Jessica and the others we’ve seen tonight.”