Graduate’s reusable coffee cup business wins funding at Venturefest Oxford

Friday, 14 September 2018

Venturefest Oxford competition

A recent graduate from Oxford Brookes won the Venturefest Oxford Pitching for Success competition with a cash prize of £1,000 including mentoring and support to scale his reusable coffee cup business.

The University hosted Venturefest Oxford for the first time this week (12 September) with over 750 visitors on campus as the event celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Venturefest Oxford is the county’s premier networking event for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and other like-minded people.

Its long-standing Pitching for Success competition offers young businesses the chance to pitch for funding, mentoring, linked together with informative discussions from investor panels.  

Harrison Hall graduated this year and studied Construction Project Management in the University’s School of the Built Environment.   

His start-up business, OneCup, aims to reverse the habit of single use disposable food/drink containers by replacing them with quality reusables at the point of need, starting with coffee cups.   

Earlier this year, Harrison received funding and mentoring from the Brookes Enterprise Support Programme to trial his idea at one of the University’s cafes. 

I never expected to win against such well-established and highly technical companies. I was just happy to see it as a valuable learning experience on how to pitch to investors. Never even thinking I would win..

Harrison Hall, Graduate, Oxford Brookes University

He has since developed his business plan to specifically focus on coffee consumers. This includes creating an app that will allow OneCup members to borrow reusable coffee cups at their point of use through their smartphones and creating a monthly membership cup-loaning scheme.   

Harrison competed against nine other businesses in the afternoon session at Venturefest. Speaking about his win he said: “I was recommended to apply by the Enterprise Support team at Brookes who offer me enterprise advice. I thought it was worth a go and I would learn a lot.

“I never expected to win against such well-established and highly technical companies. I was just happy to see it as a valuable learning experience on how to pitch to investors. Never even thinking I would win.

“The money will go into advertising and preparations for our launch next Friday at the University’s Fresher’s Fair. Every penny counts right now, so this will be an amazing help in giving our startup the best launch possible.

“I have learnt to be brave, go big and believe in yourself. If you can show the audience you're passionate about what you are doing then they will be willing to listen to you. Making a joke always help too!

You can find out more about Harrison’s business OneCup and the Pitching for Success competition on the Venturefest website.  

The Brookes Enterprise Support Programme provides funding and mentoring opportunities for business start-ups, social enterprises and entrepreneurial ideas. The programme is open to all students, staff and recent graduates.

Image: Lynn Sheperd, Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford and Oxford Brookes Graduate Harrison Hall, winner of the Pitching for Success Competition.