Guernsey Venture Challenge '22 winners - Where are they now?

Open to early-stage tech businesses in our community, the Guernsey Venture Challenge is the perfect opportunity for Guernsey's early-stage startup ventures to take their business to new heights. Partnering for the second year with the renowned venture builder Blenheim Chalcot, we're ready to support Guernsey's promising ventures in their bid to win this year's prize money. 

With three incredible prizes up for grabs, this competition is the gateway to funding and resources. The first prize offers an impressive £40,000, the second prize £20,000, and the third prize £10,000. These funds can be crucial for both taking a big innovational leap and sustaining progress for months to come. Your business could receive the financial boost it needs to grow and flourish! 

But it's not just about the prizes. Participating in the Guernsey Venture Challenge connects founders to a network of industry experts, mentors, and a support network that can fuel their entrepreneurial journey. It's an opportunity for island-wide exposure, to gain valuable insights, forge valuable partnerships, and unlock new doors for your business.

This is made possible through the SMART Guernsey programme, which is committed to supporting Guernsey's economic development, creating significant and new opportunities for on-island businesses, entrepreneurs, employees, and students. 

Last year, 8 businesses were shortlisted for the competition, ranging from sectors including entertainment, hospitality, digital, and retail. Displaying a high level of entrepreneurial activity taking place on the island. 

And so, nearly a year on as the 2023 Guernsey Venture Challenge application window is drawing to a close, we caught up with our 2022 winners to see how their entrepreneurial journey has been since triumphing at Pitch Night 2022.

Let's catch up with last year's Guernsey Venture Challenge winners

Dave Zak

First place winner Founder of NionNet Origin

We are almost a year on from your first-place win at the Guernsey Venture Challenge! Thinking back, what impact do you think the business accelerator had on your business?

"Almost a year ago we won first prize in the Guernsey Venture Challenge business accelerator initiative and the experience has been massively impactful for our emerging business. It made us look closely at our Origin SaaS product and our target customer base. Just what was ‘it’ that we offered and what would it provide for our clients? Who, exactly, were we aiming to attract?

We knew our code generation technology was brilliant and completely unique, but what did it need to stand its ground in a super-rapidly evolving marketplace? Could it hold itself against a tsunami of ChatGPT/OpenAI/Copilot that is sweeping excitedly through the development world? Learning to co-exist and take advantage of the ever-shifting marketplace was key.

The Guernsey Venture Challenge enabled us to test the strength of our ideas with leading thinkers here in Guernsey. We developed strategies to cost this brand-new service, to protect it and to take it to market. It gave us the confidence to pull in the resources we needed."


What aspects of the Guernsey Venture Challenge programme have stuck with you the most and why?

"The sense of belonging to something innovative and contemporary was profound. It engendered the realisation that we had become a valuable part of the Guernsey business community and would participate in future innovation in Guernsey and beyond.

The programme was genuinely supportive of our efforts. The brilliant team were striving for our success, and enjoying it, as much as we were. The generous press resources allowed us to promote our business as well as the sterling work of the Digital Greenhouse and the Guernsey Venture Challenge.

For us, the mentoring support proved invaluable. Getting access to those highly experienced business professionals gave us the opportunity to challenge and refine our journey.

The pitch night raised the bar in terms of our confidence to present ideas; telling our story to people who were genuinely interested to hear what we had to say. The night felt intense, encouraging and immensely empowering.

The Guernsey Venture Challenge programme was rounded off at the Véyaon Awards ceremony night and this allowed us to mingle, sharing in the success of our business colleagues, to feel their courage and their hope. They, like us, were being celebrated for their passion and rightly so."


What would you say to founders thinking about applying to the Guernsey Venture Challenge this year?

"If you are thinking about applying... just do it! There is so much to gain! The Guernsey Venture Challenge opens doors and opportunities.

If you want to take that next step, it’s a no-brainer really. The simple task of completing the application, for us, threw up so many questions that had been unconsciously ‘parked’ for attention ‘for a later date’. Applying brought those to the fore, opening a pathway to grow our business.

We would say take part, raise your profile, get to see, and be seen, by the great and the good of Guernsey. There are extraordinary people here who want you to make it. So, listen to their ideas and learn from their expertise.

Be proud of how far you’ve come unaided but take the hand offered. It’s a marvellous road to travel."

Trevor & Catherine Nicholls

Second place winners Founders of Easeedo

We are almost a year on from your win at the Guernsey Venture Challenge, what impact do you think the business accelerator had on your business?

"Reflecting on the time since the 2023 Guernsey Venture Challenge, several positive influences stand out, and we are still seeing the benefits today.

The obvious one would be the prize money, which is primarily being used to enable our digital marketing strategy. Strategy is essential; it would have been too easy to burn through the prize fund in a short time and not get the most benefit out of it. That's why I believe the most significant value comes from the mentoring experience. The value of which will still impact our business long after the funds have been exhausted."

As well as the mentoring, what part of the Guernsey Venture Challenge programme has stuck with you the most and why?

"It would be easy to overlook the moral boost gained by simply reaching the final round and the subsequent brand exposure during the events that followed.

It's almost impossible to quantify all the benefits of the GVC; even preparing for the pitch night and the mentoring during that process provided massive value. I couldn't see a downside for any business at a similar stage."

What would you say to founders thinking about applying to the Guernsey Venture Challenge this year?

"If you are a founder considering entering the Guernsey Venture Challenge, I highly encourage it, especially if you've not done anything similar.

Preparing for the pitch with a mentor helped us build a strong business strategy for the future. So, whatever stage you get to, the experience is positive throughout."

Louis Pike

Youngpreneur winner Founder of ISO-PASS (now Fit Me In)

We are almost a year on from your 'Youngpreneur' win at the Guernsey Venture Challenge with your business ISO-PASS, what impact do you think the business accelerator has had on your business since then?

"The Guernsey Venture Challenge gave me a clear vision as to where I needed to develop my idea and business plan.

Especially having such a great business mentor in Richard, it was highly beneficial to think through ideas thoroughly and understand where I needed to take the business from there. From a professional development standpoint, it has helped me change my mindset, to always utilise my entrepreneurial spirit and use this to create a diverse network in order to help me with the development of Fit Me In (rebranded ISO-PASS)"

For an entrepreneur under the age of 25 at the time, juggling school, work and the accelerator, being shortlisted for the Guernsey Venture Challenge was no small feat. What part of the programme has stuck with you the most and why?

"Pitch night - This is an opportunity not many people my age get and has helped me enormously, especially from a confidence standpoint.

It has led to new connections and exciting opportunities such as speaking at TEKEX in March.

I cannot thank the Digital Greenhouse enough alongside Blenheim Chalcot for the support and help during the programme."

What would you say to founders thinking about applying to the Guernsey Venture Challenge this year?

"DO IT - It is a great opportunity regardless, but the mentorship alone is a great reason to apply.

You'll build networks with founders and industry leaders along the way as well as gain a clearer understanding of the challenges your business will face and the knowledge of how to handle these road bumps head-on.

It pushes you out of your comfort zone and is just an amazing opportunity I can not recommend enough!"

The Guernsey Venture Challenge closes on the 9th of July, apply now and take the first steps to grow your business.

Apply for the Guernsey Venture Challenge Here

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