If there is someone you would like to add to the list, please email us directly. Please see our shortlist below!
Julian Issa & Miguel Bravo – fethr
Julian Issa and Miguel Bravo met whilst studying at the University of Bristol and remained friends after graduation. When the first lockdown came, they were sharing a flat together. Shut away and feeling socially isolated by the pandemic, they had time to reflect on the state of their social lives before COVID-19. Constantly busy and travelling to new cities for work, they weren’t getting the social connection they needed. As a result, Julian and Miguel, along with a third founder, Gerardo Rodriguez, quit their city jobs to focus on developing a solution to the social isolation that modern life often brings.
Together they founded fethr (so named because birds of a feather flock together), a startup app designed to make compatible friendship more easily accessible. The app uses artificial intelligence and a proprietary algorithm to match compatible strangers together in-person. Users fill in information about their personality and friendship goals and the app finds people with complementary traits and interests. Since its inception in 2020, fethr has grown to a team of 10. It boasts thousands of users and lots of friendship success stories already, and it’s growing fast.
Even before COVID-19, 70% of millennials self-reported as lonely. Lockdowns and working from home have exacerbated this to the nth degree. According to fethr’s own research, 63% of people in the UK prefer making friends in person rather than online, which has become increasingly difficult. As winter approaches, working from home will become common once again. Europe is seeing restrictions on bars and restaurants again. As traditional avenues for meeting new people dry up, fethr is providing a new way to create real-world meaningful connections.
Ben Amanna – BOXRAW
Ben Amanna is a University of Oxford graduate who founded boxing sportswear business BOXRAW from his childhood bedroom in Coventry four years ago, channelling his lifelong passions for boxing and entrepreneurship. It’s now making more than £5 million a year in sales and worn by the likes of Michael B Jordan, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and Love Island star Tommy Fury.
His aim with BOXRAW is to help make boxing more accessible for younger people by providing new routes into the sport. He’s said: “The vision for BOXRAW was to be why people got into boxing. We’re trying to take over the sport. I want people, when they see boxing , to think BOXRAW and vice-versa.”
He now plans to double its 39-person team this year after sales hit the £5 million mark, with its projected revenue due to grow to £15 million by 2022.
Ben has also founded Boxing Is Love, a charity that teaches boxing to children. It’s run six volunteer trips to Liberia, taking boxers and coaches from across four continents to help train more than 10,000 children there to date. The charity also focuses on local community events in the UK and USA, working with a number of other charities to support with providing things such as boxing gear and programmes.
Hazel McShane & Amber Probyn – PEEQUAL
Co-founders Amber and Hazel graduated from Bristol university in 2020 studying Anthropology with Innovation and Physics with innovation respectively. They met on the award winning Innovation course and came together to solve the age old problem of female toilet queues for their masters project. Their background in user-centred design within the Innovation degree was core to the development of PEEQUAL.
PEEQUAL is the Bristol based start-up developing the UK’s first stand-alone, touch-free women’s urinal to address a $1.35 billion global market opportunity. PEEQUAL’s mission is to pioneer pee-equality for all women, everywhere. Multi-award winning, women-led and equality focused – PEEQUAL have tested their urinals at events like Shambala and Valley fest in 2021, finding that 95% of women would 100% use PEEQUAL again. Women are dancing, singing and rapping about PEEQUAL (see its instagram @peequaluk for the video).
They said “From the start, we co-created with women….from making cardboard prototypes to interviewing women standing in the club toilet queues, we sought to understand the user experiences and desires. As a student you can be cheeky and ask for advice from lots of experts, we spoke to anthropology professors, site managers for the UK’s top festivals, logistics managers.”
PEEQUAL are now raising investment and are looking for customers for 2022. They are excited to work with a team of volunteers at the events, so if you are interested in volunteering and making PEEQUAL a reality, get in touch at [email protected]!
Andrea Sexton – Admire PR
Andrea is a graduate of the University of Bristol (BSc. Equine Science) and London Metropolitan University (MSc. Strategic Marketing).
After graduating University, she was a professional horse rider for several years, but she always had a job to help pay for her sport. During this time, sheI always did her own PR and sponsorship. In 2005, she was fortunate to get a job as UK brand manager for a sportswear company she adored. Since then, she has gradually built up her expertise and client base, and now has clients from business, charity and sport.
She loves the variation involved with her job. Her business mainly deals with creating press coverage opportunities for it’s clients. This can be news, opinion and comment, award entries, forming partnerships with charities or other organisations, and creating speaking opportunities. There is also a reputation protection role, which can be dealing with negativity or crisis communications.
Getting clients the right publicity, helping them create and maintain an excellent reputation, and knowing the role played in their success is Andrea’s motivation. Every time one of the clients receives a press mention, the whole team is excited. That joy never dulls.
Part of her goal for the future is to improve the reputation of PR itself. In the UK, the PR industry has little ethnic diversity and she feels is not as inclusive as it could be. Her wish is that young people at school who are talented and creative writers know that PR is a brilliant career for them. All young people deserve a chance to create a satisfying career for themselves. She plans to do what she can to help make this happen.
Keri Andriana – Amschela
Keri Andriana is a multi-award-winning handbag designer, CEO & Founder of UK affordable luxury handbag brand Amschela. She started her career as a lawyer, studying at both the University of Bristol and the University of The West of England (UWE), specialising in Prison Law before transitioning to the world of fashion. She launched the brand in her hometown of Bristol in 2017, and it really was the idea of taking a childhood hobby and seeing if she could turn it into a business as a second career choice. As a self-taught designer it was quite a brave idea.
Amschela is an UK emerging affordable luxury accessory brand, promoting sustainability and positive change of inclusiveness for all women via accessibility. The brand’s mission is to design authentic, sustainable and affordable handbags for everyone. Their products prioritise quality to retain an exclusive feel of luxury but with an inclusive nature for all, using food waste materials.
The brand has featured in Sky, ITV, Google, British Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Tatler, British GQ winning several awards and nominations: Business of The Year Rise Awards (2018), SW Luxury Accessories Retailer Award Bristol Life Awards (2019), Business of the Year MTM Awards (2020) finalists at the Small British Business Awards and Great British Entrepreneur Awards (2019). The brand was selected for London Fashion Week September 2021 and is a member of the British Fashion Council. The brands first movie appearance in the On The Other Foot Movie will took place on November 29th 2021.
Amschela is mid-transition to become a full vegan brand by April 2022, with a circular business model of 100% traceability of all materials used by 2025. Amschela is a member of the UK SME Climate Hub and supports 6 UN Projects fighting climate change which led to me being nominated for a British Fashion Award in 2020. The brand is also a Kickstart employer supporting young people entering into the fashion industry. Keri’s current goal is to raise investment and scale the brand to new heights with alternative product markets but keep handbags as the company’s core market.
If there is someone you would like to add to the list, please email us directly.