TWO Ballymena entrepreneurs have beaten off competition from across the UK to scoop the top prize in a dragons’ den style pitching event in London.
Peter Gillan and Jack Fullerton, both 24 and graduates of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) won the £5k Engineers in Business Startup ‘Champion of Champions Enterprise Award’ for the creation of a smart dumbbell, SmartBell and its accompanying work-out tracking app, Stronger.
Former Ballymena Academy pupils, Jack and Peter are co-founders of Atlas Smart Technologies, a business they started with fellow students James Logan and Joseph Gillan whilst studying at QUB.
Jack said: “We’re ecstatic to win the Enterprise Award. The competition was incredibly strong from top universities all over the UK so it’s really good to know that the judges loved our products and our vision for what we want to offer consumers. Over 30,000 people have already downloaded Stronger and we want to keep giving as much as we can to our growing community. Winning this award will help us to do that.”
Peter added: “The recognition that the award provides is game-changing for us. It validates our idea, and we are excited to see the business gain traction not only with our audience who are downloading the Stronger app, but also from potential investors and other engineers, to see us as a credible business.
“Being part of the Engineers in Business Competition has been a great experience. We gained valuable mentorship and advice on how to change our pitch. Even talking to the other competitors and learning about the exciting things that they are working on has been inspiring for us. We’ve also made great connections with students and enterprise professionals from other universities taking part in the competition.”
Atlas Smart Technologies’ SmartBell is a smartphone-controlled dumbbell that offers twenty-six weight levels, ten more than the current market leader. Users simply place the dumbbell into a cradle and the weight level can be adjusted with an innovative 1kg weight resolution. Alongside this, goes the Stronger Mobile, a gamified workout tracking app.
Stronger Mobile turns workout data into fun and shareable statistics; it is the only app to do this and more than 30,000 people have already downloaded it. Stronger and the SmartBell combine to give a full personal training experience.
In addition to the £5,000 cash prize, Atlas Smart Technologies will benefit from further mentoring from a Sainsbury Management Fellow, an engineer who received a £50,000 scholarship from Engineers in Business Fellowship to study for an MBA at a top international business school. Peter and Jack will also receive professional CV packages from PurpleCV and a popular entrepreneurial book from Cambridge University Press.
Engineers in Business Fellowship is a registered charity that champions business education for engineers and supports not only qualified engineers to gain business education, but also supports universities by giving them grants to award prizes to engineering students who develop ground-breaking ideas that can make a positive impact on society.
The Engineers in Business competition is unique in that finalists have a whole day dedicated to preparing them for the final. This includes the in-depth coaching sessions with Sainsbury Management Fellow (SMF). The Atlas Smart Technologies team were coached by SMF, Simon Bonini, Director at Lightening Fibre.
Head of the Judging panel, SMF Chris Shelley, Chief Executive Officer, SolarBotanic Trees said: “We had an exceptionally talented group of finalists, and it was very difficult to separate many of the presentations. The improvement in pitches, following their coaching sessions, from the submissions that got them into the finals, was noticeable in every finalist. We were pleased to see how much they embraced new input from their coaches even a day before the final pitches.
“In the end, Atlas Smart Technologies won the Enterprise Award by demonstrating the traction and momentum that motivated them. They had a clear vision and mission and have developed their product to the point where they already have active users. We wish them continued success with their business development.”