The inventor of a wearable, waterproof and easily-deployable tent claimed top prize at an event to recognize some of the Sheffield City Region’s most promising start-ups.
A four-figure prize fund was awarded at the finale for the Y-Accelerator scheme, which offers opportunities to the Sheffield City Region’s next generation of business leaders via a three-month intensive development programme.
The event, which took place at Gripple’s Glide House in Attercliffe, saw four budding entrepreneurs pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of high-profile investors with a chance to win a £1,000 prize from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE) as well as potential investment.
Lee Price, and his product Zelter Shelter – a unique wearable that deploys into a sturdy waterproof, breathable tent – came out on top after he impressed the judges with “both business acumen and enthusiasm throughout the process”.
The quartet of finalists also included tech start-up The Quantum Photon Company, authentic West African hot sauce producer Fula Flavour, and automated construction enterprise Rocassa.
Among the speakers were representatives from supporting organisations Gripple, Sheffield Hallam University, and Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO). The programme is also supported by Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.
Start-ups which previously benefitted from the Y-Accelerator scheme also spoke of their subsequent business growth and development which came on the back of the programme’s support.
Amanda Parris, Business Growth Manager for RiDO, said: “We’re extremely proud to see the progress each of the Y-Accelerator programme’s participants has made in such a short space of time, and we’re excited to see where they will go next.
“It’s been fantastic to see some innovative ideas turn into forward-thinking and creative business opportunities, as well as see the growth and success which our previous participants have enjoyed.
“We’re looking forward to seeing new ideas from the next cohort.”
Zelter Shelter founder, Lee Price, said: “The support and advice we’ve received over the past three months has been so valuable – and to be announced as the winner of the programme is an honour.
“There are a lot of exciting possibilities to come from my business and it’s great to have received the advice, mentoring, feedback and validation that the Y-Accelerator has facilitated – not to mention making some excellent contacts along the way.
“The grant from UKSE will be instrumental in allowing me to further develop the next generation of shelter, as well as bring some of my other product ideas to market.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to all of those involved in running what has been a thoroughly rewarding programme and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Zelter Shelter.”
Keith Williams, Regional Manager at UKSE, said: “The Y-Accelerator is a unique initiative that supports the development of start-up and early stage businesses looking to bring their innovative idea to life, or develop their current offering further.
“The process was designed to test, challenge and strengthen business models and provide entrepreneurs with the tools and skills to launch and grow successful businesses – Lee demonstrated both business acumen and enthusiasm throughout the process and we’re thrilled to have chosen Zelter Shelter as the winner of our £1,000 prize.”
UKSE provides loan and equity finance of up to £1M to existing companies which are growing, particularly those creating jobs.