Banham student obtains £3,000 grant to kick-start football fan app

Left to right - Joe Marriott, Ben Shimmens and Mohammud Hanif Ali (Official Match Day Programme) with judge Paul Hodson (Barclays)

Left to right - Joe Marriott, Ben Shimmens and Mohammud Hanif Ali (Official Match Day Programme) with judge Paul Hodson (Barclays)

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A university student from south Norfolk is celebrating with two of his fellow undergraduates after obtaining a £3,000 grant to help kick start their business aimed at match day football fans.

Joe Marriott, aged 22, from Banham, received the funding along with team members Mohammud Hanif Ali, 25, and Ben Shimmens, 22, after fending off competition from 99 other teams in the Big Pitch, a student business pitch competition held at Anglia Ruskin University.

Mr Marriott, who has been a Norwich City season ticket-holder for 16 years, said: “The Big Pitch has been a brilliant experience and we never thought we would get to the final, let alone win £3,000.

“The experience has been so informative and we have received so many useful contacts.

“We can’t wait to start this business and make it a success.”

The team impressed the judges with their “Official Match Day Programme” idea - a website and app which aims to improve the experience of football fans, particularly ‘away’ supporters, by providing information such as details of local venues like pubs and restaurants, in addition to offering travel advice, including parking tips.

From the initial 99 pitches submitted, the group were invited as one of the top 27 entrants to an enterprise boot camp, where they developed and presented an executive summary, before joining six finalists to pitch their completed business idea to judges, in front of a live audience.

Paddy Bishopp, co-founder of Paddy and Scott’s Cafés and one of the judges in The Big Pitch final, said: “I always really enjoy judging The Big Pitch as there is always such passion and a will to succeed from all participants.

“I also feel a huge sense of responsibility and this year was very difficult as all finalists had great pitches and business ideas.

“Innovation-wise, I felt that Official Match Day Programme had really thought through their app and had successfully translated it into a viable business idea.

“I look forward to watching their progress.”

As well as the start-up funds, the trio also earned 12 months of free office space at the university’s StartupLab, 12 months of free business banking with Barclays, legal advice from Mills and Reeve, and monthly mentoring support from the Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR).