Entrepreneurs from round the globe take up the startup challenge

Contestants were tasked with forging partnerships with suppliers via Alibaba.com and using their £1000 to purchase their wares. Contestants featured on the Alibaba.com website including forums offering guidance from experienced business owners and traders. The overall winner has been decided by public vote to determine which start up business will take home a £10,000 prize to be given out a lunch attended by leading entrepreneur and Dragon Peter Jones

The aim of the competition was to showcase the ease with which businesses, startup or otherwise, can import & export to create a global business.

The Contestants & their Business plans
Ben Creighton
Newcastle-based, Martial Arts Instructor Ben Creighton, 31, was made redundant from his sales job last year. While training, he was reminded of Rocky Balboa’s hard times, pummelling sides of beef in the abattoir to make ends meet. This sparked a brainwave:  to develop a contemporary boxing brand featuring unique, stylish and distinctive punch bags and gloves which would be sourced via Alibaba.com.

Ben has set to work designing the ‘Queensbury 12’ range which divides into three collections: ‘Martial Artworks’, ‘Exercise Your Demons’ and the exclusive ‘Butcher’s Bag’ which is a carcass-shaped punch bag, the original inspiration of Ben’s daydreams of Rocky!

‘Martial Artworks’ is designed to reflect the bold canvas artwork popular in contemporary homes. Printed on each bag will be a dramatic digital panoramic photograph, such as a New York skyline, bamboo forest or graffiti wall. Meanwhile, the ‘Exercise Your Demons’ range will provide motivation to exercise by ‘beating’ fears, phobias and cravings, with each bag featuring recurring pop-art images of cupcakes, spiders or sinister attackers.

Daniel Citron
Head of Product Development for a financial services company, Daniel Citron, 30, from London has been longing for an opportunity to try his hand at setting up his own business. Searching Alibaba.com, he came across a product, which he believes he can successfully market and sell in the UK, and plans to use his established business network to make sure the sums add up.

Product selection was at the core of Daniel’s strategy and he based his final decision on key import factors such as the small weight and size of the product to keep freight costs to a minimum. The low unit cost was also an important contributing factor.

Daniel plans to source high quality silk pouches to accessorize mobile phones and MP3 players, but giving them a practical purpose. More than just a protective cover, the pouches will come in various stylish designs and according to Daniel, will make carrying around life’s essentials that bit more fun!

Marvin Baker
Manchester-based Marvin Baker, 34, is a self-confessed serial entrepreneur. You name it he’s tried – and occasionally succeeded – at doing it. The Global Startup Challenge provided Marvin with the perfect opportunity to do something in business that he’s always wanted to do. To give something back.

Marvin plans to create a ‘sustainable’ business, which will see him purchase artificial Christmas trees via Alibaba.com. The exciting twist for this business model is that, for every Christmas tree he sells, Marvin will use the revenue to plant a new tree in the UK.

Keen to get underway, Marvin has already agreed a partnership with a tree-planting organisation that will assist him with his not-for-profit venture.

Not content with planting trees to offset carbon in the UK, Marvin has devised a Corporate Social Responsibility element to his business plan which will enable him to use any remaining profit from tree sales to fund the supply of computers to Africa as part of Computer Aid, a charity close to his heart.

Denis Denisenko
Marketing consultant, Denis, 22 from Birmingham has a keen interest in business and with accolades such as winning 4th place in the Global Business Competition in Germany this year, 3d place in the Global Business Challenge by CIMA in London, and being nominated a Birmingham Chamber of Commerce award, he was chomping at the bit to be involved in the Global Startup Challenge.

Denis plans to help revolutionise household chores with his robot cleaner, which he claims is a relatively new development in the home appliances industry.

At the simple touch of a button, the robot cleaner will automatically clean the house and work completely on its own.  With hours of precious spare time spent cleaning and carrying out general household chores, Denis wants to introduce the robot to the UK to free up time and eliminate the hassle of vacuuming forever!

Stan Karpenko
Originally from Russia, Stan, 20, is a youth worker in Birmingham with a passion for social entrepreneurialism. Having entered and won several international business competitions as well as founding his own student enterprise, Stan believes he has the business skills and acumen to succeed in this challenge.

His idea is a simple t shirt printing business which will enable him to source good quality t shirts in varying colours and sizes via Aliababa.com which will then be sold baring funky and original designs. Utilising his existing links with Birmingham University and his contacts through his youth work, Stan already has several student designers on hand to create original, stylish and occasionally, comical designs. He has also successfully negotiated with a printer who is prepared to work with him on this venture by producing the final t shirts.

Additionally, the printing company Stan has opted to support is a social enterprise, which empowers young people by giving them the opportunity to develop their own business skills through the everyday running and management of the business.

Louise Flower
Third year English and History student, Louise Flower, 20, from York is a natural born entrepreneur. Since beginning her studies at York University she has taken an active role in the university’s entrepreneurial society and currently holds the External Enterprise Director role on the committee.

Louise was keen to get involved in the trading challenge and believes she has spotted the perfect products on Alibaba.com to appeal to fellow students, and business people alike with her ‘all you need’ kit. The kit will comprise several handy products and will be marketed collectively as well as individually. Key products include a high-tech digital capture pen which uses handwriting recognition technology to capture ones handwritten notes, drawings, and sketches anytime, anywhere.

These handwritten notes can then be uploaded, filed, emailed and edited once connected to a computer- great for lecture and/or business meeting notes. The pack also includes an emergency mini battery pack and c
heap printer cartridges, which are handy to have at a reasonable cost.

Tom Stevenson
Tom Stevenson, 33 from Leeds has devised a business plan to get even the most discerning taste buds sizzling! Since setting up a family run printing business, Tom has flexed his entrepreneurial muscles by creating gift-based website www.nelliestore.co.uk which he has successfully secured partnerships with high street retailers such as Debenhams. Keen to put his latest idea into action, Tom entered the Global Startup Challenge with an idea that combines his two great passions, food and business.

Tom plans to produce a website for those who love to BBQ. The site aims to elevate the humble BBQ into a special occasion and will deliver tips, tricks and recipes to meat hungry consumers. There will be video demonstrations on everything from grilling the perfect steak to cooking a turkey on the BBQ – his top tip for Christmas! Tom will source BBQ’s and accessories from Alibaba.com and will sell them via his site to anyone that shares his view that BBQs should not be confined to summer!