Budding entrepreneur from Dagenham wins business pitch competition

That’s Pitchin’! competition winner Stephen Annan Junior, 19, from Dagenham with runners-up Ezana Tedla and Thomas Cooper.

That’s Pitchin’! competition winner Stephen Annan Junior, 19, from Dagenham (centre) with runners-up Ezana Tedla (right) and Thomas Cooper (left). - Credit: Barking and Dagenham College

A student and budding entrepreneur from Dagenham will be supported to develop his platform idea after winning a business pitch competition.

Stephen Annan Junior, 19, won That’s Pitchin’! with his innovative concept Fresh, an online booking platform for haircare and skincare appointments aimed at men which offers an at-home service.

The competition, run by Barking and Dagenham College in partnership with skills-development academy Empowered Youth, was open to anyone aged 14 to 19 who lives in the area.

It offered more than £7,000 in prizes, including cash investment and professional mentoring for winning entrepreneurs. 

About 100 young people took part in a series of rounds before eight were selected for the grand finale on June 9.

The finalists pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, including Rich Kids Global co-founder Luke Mullens and Sabrina Ben Salmi, who ranked number two on a Top 50 Most Inspirational Black Women in the UK list.

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Stephen, a business studies student at the college, said he was “over the moon” to win.

“This is incredible. I’ve learned so much through this competition and now with the skills I’ve learned and the support of the college, I can take my business and dream to the next level," he said.

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Stephen receives £5,000 in prizes, including £2,500 business investment from Barking and Dagenham College and six months of one-on-one mentorship from Empowered Youth to help him grow his business. 

Romford 19-year-old Ezana Tedla finished in second place with his community-based fin-tech business EKUB. 

Thomas Cooper, 18, from Dagenham, was third with Palatial Packet, a modern approach to gifting and packaging. 

Barking and Dagenham College chief operating officer Joy Kettyle said: “I am extremely proud of the finalists and everyone who took part in the competition. 

“It was encouraging seeing those who took the brave step to put themselves forward and pitch live in front of judges of that calibre.

“The aspiration that they demonstrated, for themselves and their business ideas, was visible and truly touching.” 

Empowered Youth’s Dene Botha, who hosted the competition, added: “It was a breath of fresh air seeing the finalists pitching all these amazing ideas.

“This proves that innovation and creativity is rife amongst young people."

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