Graduate Entrepreneurs win £10,000 PepsiCo competition
Two Lancaster University graduates who founded their own technology firm have won a £10,000 competition run by PepsiCo to select the ten best start-ups in Europe.
Mitch Vidler and Stephen Darlington are now working with some of PepsiCo’s leading brands in the UK, including Walkers and Pepsi, following their selection from more than 130 entries.
Mitch Vidler said: “We only graduated from university last year, so it's hard to imagine that the technology we created in our university halls will now be used by a global, leading company like PepsiCo. We can't wait to start working with one of PepsiCo's UK brands."
Their company SDMV Ltd owns Slingshot, a web-based application which enables users to add products to their existing online retailers’ shopping baskets from third party locations, such as brand websites, Facebook pages or mobile devices.
Mitch, who graduated in Management and Entrepreneurship, and Stephen, with a degree in Computer Science, are also currently in discussion with four Fortune 500 companies who together own over 600 brands worldwide.
Mitch said: “Our long term aim is to help as many people shop as possible and this includes on an international level. We have been working very hard for the last few months on tools to help brands to implement Slingshot into their existing systems. We are continually developing the whole application to push towards our never ending goal of making the world an easier place though simplicity.”
The pair set up Slingshot with the help of LUSU Involve, the UK’s largest and most successful university volunteering unit which supports students with business ideas. The top five LUSU Involve supported businesses had a combined income of over half a million pounds last year.
Joe Buglass, Enterprise and Employability Manager of LUSU Involve said: “Mitch is a natural entrepreneur who impresses everyone who encounters him. It’s been a pleasure working with Stephen and Mitch. They have worked extremely hard on Slingshot and it’s nice to see them reap the rewards. It’s also fantastic for Lancaster University Students’ Union which really encourages enterprise amongst both staff and students.”
He also helped Mitch expand his first business, I Can See The World, a high altitude photography company which has since been sold as a going concern.
Mitch said: “Joe’s help has been essential while at university, having someone to ask when you have a question. If Joe can’t help he usually knows someone that can.”
Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's global director of digital and social media, said the standard of entry in the Europe-wide competition had been phenomenal.
He said that the technology platforms from Slingshot and the other nine winners would change consumer behaviour over the next year and will be used across PepsiCo, which offers the world’s largest portfolio of billion dollar food and beverage brands.