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Prize for Plymouth University entrepreneur connecting students with local businesses

A student and entrepreneur has won the latest Soup event brought to the South West by GAIN at the University of Plymouth. Jerome Kennard will use his prize money to support his new venture, ERLY, which helps students find work experience with local businesses.

ERLY is a network that connects university students with local businesses so they can gain work experience. Jerome will use his prize money to take his new venture – ERLY – to an international conference, Startup Grind, where he hopes to attract investors. 

This Soup event took place at Future Sync, a one-day community tech conference at the University. Jerome pitched ERLY against two other entrepreneurs to an audience who then voted for their favourite. 

A final year BSc (Hons) Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship student, Jerome is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and lived in New York City before moving to Plymouth to study. His idea was recently one of 13 University of Plymouth student start-ups to be awarded a grant through the BETA Enterprise programme, run by the University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. 

A keen traveller and surfer, Jerome aims for ERLY to be the place for students and businesses to find each other. Longer term, he wants all higher education institutions in the UK to use the service to benefit their students and to then take ERLY to a global market. 

“It feels exciting to have won the Soup event because it means that other people believe in the idea and that it has potential. I was nervous I would choke up during my pitch, but once I started, everything just flowed and my passion carried the whole pitch. The experience of meeting like-minded people and networking was the best part. 
“I hope that businesses and universities see the potential in ERLY to create an amazing space for students and businesses to connect and grow.” 
Jerome pitched against two other local entrepreneurs: Stephanie Jasper whose start up business Your High Life offers getaways and corporate team-building experiences in a suspended tent and Corrie Barton of Plymouth creative studio Feisty Crab Studios

University of Plymouth Corporate Projects Manager Rich Adams said:
“Jerome faced stiff competition from the others, but gave a really passionate presentation. It was clear to the audience how his venture could benefit businesses and students. 
“Jerome has had some support from the University’s BETA Enterprise Programme, which is run by our Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. We’re delighted to now see how winning Soup will help him take his idea to an international conference, where he will have the chance to get in front of investors.” 
Now an international crowdfunding phenomenon, Soup began in Detroit. Audience members pay £5 to see new businesses pitch their ideas an over a bowl of soup before voting for their favourite with their spoons. The winner earns the takings to support their venture to grow, as well as a package of business support from the University of Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce. 

This Soup event was sponsored by PKF Francis Clark.

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