Young Entrepreneurs Pitch their Business Ideas to a Panel of Influential Judges


On Thursday 28th February, young entrepreneurs met at Thales UK, Manor Royal to pitch their final business plans to a panel of professionals in the hopes of being named the winner of the South East Entrepreneurial prize fund of business products and services.


David Kickham of Thales stated that he was “Knocked out by the enthusiasm of the candidates this year”, withPaul McConalogue, Director of Corporate and Commercial at NatWest Gatwick adding how “impressed with the passion each of the candidates showed during their presentations.”


YST Finalists 2019 - Left to right (Tom Williams, Luke Baldwin, Rebecca Fitzgerald, Anthony Mellor, Hlanganiso Matangaidze,   Tom Gray and William Venner

YST Finalists 2019 - Left to right (Tom Williams, Luke Baldwin, Rebecca Fitzgerald, Anthony Mellor, Hlanganiso Matangaidze, Tom Gray and William Venner


Young Start-up Talent (YST) initially launched in Gatwick in 2010, encouraging young entrepreneurs aged between 16 - 25 years old to start their own business. Nine years on, the initiative has proven to be a great success, and is now run across the whole of the South East. Working with many local and national businesses, Young Start-up Talent award a prize fund of business products and services to one of the finalists, providing them with all the tools they need to kick-start their business. Since launching, the YST team have been blown away by the quality of young entrepreneurs that have applied for the process, with this year being no exception.


Jon Maile of Grant Thornton added “All of the candidates throughout the process have shown an impressive level of business understanding and entrepreneurial spirit. There were some great business plans and I have no doubt that all of them will go on to do great things in the future”.


After successfully making it through the first stages, the budding entrepreneurs were invited to undergo a business-know how workshop at Thales UK where they were given the opportunity to meet their fellow contestants and given feedback on their business ideas. From there, the entrepreneurs participated in a 1-2-1 styled speed-networking event with local sponsors and business professionals followed by the final five formally presenting their business to a live panel of judges and furthermore being filmed from five camera angles.


YST Judges 2019 - left to right - Dave Kickham, Jon Maile, Paul McConnalogue, Ana Christie, Tony Hyams-Parish and Mario Corrizzo with found partners Matt Turner and Lorraine Nugent at the back.

YST Judges 2019 - left to right - Dave Kickham, Jon Maile, Paul McConnalogue, Ana Christie, Tony Hyams-Parish and Mario Corrizzo with found partners Matt Turner and Lorraine Nugent at the back.

Tony Hyams-Parish of DMH Stallard “It was inspiring to see such interesting and credible business propositions. I have no doubt that all of the finalists will be enormously successful in their new business ventures. It has been a real privilege for myself and DMH Stallard to take part in this process”


On the evening at Thales, the young entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to six fiery judges, including; Dave Kickham – Operations Director - Thales UK, Paul McConalogue – Director, Corporate & Commercial Gatwick Region for NatWest, Jon Maile - Partner at Grant Thornton Accountants, Tony Hyams-Parish – Partner at DMH Stallard, Mario Carrozzo – CEO – Caridon Property and Ana Christie – CEO of Sussex Chamber of Commerce.


YST Judges 2019 - Thales

YST Judges 2019 - Thales


Ana Christie CEO of Sussex Chamber of Commerce said “The talent and entrepreneurial flair of all five finalists made my job as a judge extremely difficult. All of the young entrepreneurs displayed such great confidence and skill. They are all enormously talented and bright.”


New to the judging panel this year was property entrepreneur and CEO of Caridon Property, Mario Carrozzo who commented “An inspiration, seeing so many exceptional students in their element , they conducted themselves like true entrepreneurs , no matter what the results are on the day I believe they will have gained  so much from this experience it will be life changing.”


The young entrepreneurs pitching during the evening included:

Rebecca Fitzgerald.JPG

Rebecca Fitzgerald

No More Nasties

Anthony Mellor - Portrait.JPG

Anthony Mellor


H & Tom Gray.JPG

Hlanganiso Matangaidze

& Tom Gray

RED International Power Solutions Ltd

William Venner.JPG

William Venner

GMOD Admin Suite

Tom Williams and Luke Baldwin - Mantra - Portrait.JPG

Tom Williams & Luke Baldwin

Mantra Apparel UK


Rebecca Fitzgerald commented “I have learnt a lot during the process and looking forward to the showcase event”.  Whilst William Venner said that he is “excited and grateful for all the advice and encouragement he has received throughout the process” and Anthony Mellor commenting “I have found the process really well planned and a valuable experience so far.”


Young Start-up Talent would like to thank Thales for hosting the event, Brighton Video Production for filming the event, Ben Chubb of NatWest for recording the voice-over of the forthcoming video and to Akeel Alidina of Caridon Property with helping to calm the nerves of the finalists and working with them on the presentations.


Akeel added “It was D Day for the contestants. There was nerves, over confidence and focus. I told them all they had nothing to lose. It was great to see a journey of growth in the contestants from the first batch of presentations! May the best future talent win…..


The winner of the Young Start-up Talent initiative for the South East will be announced on Tuesday 2nd April 2019 at Thales in Manor Royal where the audience will see a video of the formal presentation and then get to vote on their winner following live two minute pitches from each of the finalist. The judge’s and sponsors will be working with the lucky winner over the next 12 months.


To find out more please visit:


Sponsors involved in this year’s Gatwick initiative include:

Fast Signs

Basepoint Business Centre

Grant Thornton Accountants

DMH Stallard

Caridon Property

Crawley Borough Council

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council

Thales Group


Bennett Christmas

Wildwood PR

Creative Pod

Horsham District Council

Federation of Small Businesses

Sussex Chamber of Commerce

Gatwick Diamond Business Association

Horsham District Council

Beta Futures

Business First TV

West Sussex County Times

Crawley Observer

Mid Sussex Times


 If you would like details to attend the showcase please email for more info to:

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