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12th May 2010, 10:58am
Spectacular opening chapter for Sophie's business idea
Sophie Bulgin An imaginative undergraduate from the University of Lincoln has won a £5,000 support package to get her online book exchange business off the ground.

Sophie Bulgin (22) claimed first place in the Perfect Pitch competition run by the University’s Enterprise@Lincoln department.

Students with potential business start-up ideas were invited to pitch their proposals to the Enterprise team – with a package of business expertise and financial support the prize for the winning contestant.

Applicants were whittled down to seven finalists, who faced a Dragon’s Den style panel comprised of local business leaders. The panel included successful Lincolnshire entrepreneur Andy Harsley, whose ‘Rapstrap’ invention proved a hit on the real Dragon’s Den show on BBC.

From innovative furniture designs to an eco-friendly courier service, the Perfect Pitch event showcased the rich variety of business ideas among Lincoln’s students. All the finalists will receive expert advice to develop their proposals further.

But it was Sophie’s idea for an online exchange service for academic textbooks that claimed first place and the top prize. She will receive a £5,000 support package including funding, help and advice from key businesses in the region.

The third year Business and Marketing student impressed the panel with her unique idea – Uni’dthesebooks. Based on successful models like Cash4Gold and Mazuma Mobile, her concept was to tap into the book re-selling market through an online platform.

Customers will be able to get a price for their old university books on the website and return them to Sophie in exchange for a cheque.

With the thumbs-up from the Perfect Pitch judges, she plans to spend the summer carrying out market research and website development before launching the business this September with a focus on Lincoln and the East Midlands.

Sophie said: “I entered the competition because I wanted the networking opportunities that were on offer. I knew that being able to access an environment where entrepreneurship was on tap would really make my business possible. Now I’m looking forward to it being transactional and waiting for the day when I can do it full-time.”

Perfect Pitch is an annual competition run by the University of Lincoln’s student enterprise society, Deviate, part of Enterprise@Lincoln.

To contact Sophie, phone Enterprise@Lincoln on 01522 837200. Anyone who would like to donate textbooks to help Sophie get her business up and running can deliver them to Enterprise@Lincoln, located next to the library on the University’s Brayford Pool campus.

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