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Hashtrack tops the field at University of York’s celebration of student enterprise

Posted on 30 June 2014

An enterprising first year Computer Science student has won the Outstanding Business category at the University of York’s Exciting New Ventures at York (ENVY) competition.

Plan ENVY finalists Bethan Vincent, Alex Woolley, Alex Kontos, Hiba Khan and George Fuest. Photo: Adrian Allen

Alex Woolley collected the top £2,000 prize at the annual celebration of enterprise for his business Hashtrack which takes an innovative approach to collating masses of social media information into an easy to interpret system.

Designed with the needs of marketing agencies in mind, Hashtrack is already on trial with sector customers and is moving rapidly towards initial sales.

Hosted by the Careers team at the University, the Plan ENVY competition is an opportunity for York’s many young entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses. Funded by a generous gift from Santander, the competition builds to a final dinner where the best entrants present their ideas and progress to date.

Alex was among five finalists selected from nearly 30 entries. Sharing the stage was Bethan Vincent, a recent graduate and medieval historian, who won the most Robust Plan category for her ethically sourced brand Vincent’s Coffee. 

The other finalists were Economics student George Fuest, whose social enterprise Crowd Restoration offers the opportunity to access funding and expertise for those seeking to restore historic buildings; Medical student Hiba Khan, who presented Active Minds, a new concept in health orientated childcare that will be running in North London this summer; and Electronic Engineering student Alex Kontos, who has recently received a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award for his web browser Waterfox, a concept that has already attracted 3m downloads and significant investment. 

Andrew Ferguson, Assistant Director: Business, Community & Enterprise, with University of York Careers, said: "The standard of entry was exceptionally high this year. The judges found powerful features in all the entries and selecting only two for prize money was exceptionally difficult. It demonstrates the breadth of innovation and entrepreneurship that our students possess that the finalists can offer convincing business cases ranging from high technology through to heritage and coffee.” 

The dinner included a presentation from the winner of the 2013 Outstanding Business category, Charlie Thuiller, who graduated in Social Policy in 2011.  Charlie Thuiller’s business Oppo Ice cream, offers a virtually dairy free product with a fraction of the calories of traditional ice cream. Speaking from the factory in Scotland where Oppo is now in production, he explained the rapid progress the business has made and thanked Careers for their help. He also encouraged others to try out their ideas with the range of support available to them through the University.

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