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Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards shortlists social media startup

A rising student startup business that has leapt forward with unique mentoring and opportunities from the Future Worlds network has reached the semi-finals of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.

Proofer, a social media management platform co-founded by student entrepreneur Sharif Alvis, has been named in London and the South’s top 10 pre-revenue startups in the national pitching competition.

The business will now compete for a share of £82,000 in prize money as it follows an ambitious growth strategy to market its complete content creation, scheduling and proofing software package for SMEs.

“I’m ecstatic,” Sharif reacted. “It means a lot to be chosen among the top 30 in the country. It also gives us some validation on our business plan and continues to build our confidence that we are on the right track.”

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is aimed at giving a financial boost to student and graduate businesses from UK partner universities and has given away more than £260,000 since its launch in 2011.

“So far we’ve submitted a business model canvas, where you essentiallylay out your entire business plan in a really concise format,” Sharif explained. “As well as that, we’ve submitted a two-minute video [embedded above] talking about the company. We’ve had great support from the University as always in putting it together.

“Future Worlds DirectorReuben Wilcockand Head of Student EnterpriseSarah Rogersgave me feedback on the application form and business model canvas, and Future Worlds’Alex DunlopandSophie Sellersput the video together, so it feels like a real team effort to have reached this stage in the competition.”

For the semi-final, Sharif will pitch to a judging panel and audience at Middlesex University on June 26th. Winners from that stage will be forwarded into an accelerator week that will include workshops and masterclasses to help build on business plans.

“Proofer is going strong and we’ve recently hired our first employee, Marco, who’s based in Italy,” Sharif continued. “We’ve got some great office space in Central London and we’re just a few months away from a release of the platform. After that, it’s all hands on deck to promote the platform and improve it with customer feedback.”

The story behind Proofer – from aeronautics studies to soaring investment

Discover the ‘Story behind Proofer’ in anexclusive UKBAA Blogby Sharif that charts the startup’s rise from a fresh idea when he first experienced the market through to and beyond a successful pitch at a University Dragons’ Den event. “It all started three years ago when I was doing an internship at a local social media agency…”

Proofer recentlysecured £135,000 of investmentfrom Future Worlds mentors for the continuing development and marketing of its product. Sharif is taking a year out from his Aeronautics and Astronautics course to lead the startup, which has come on leaps and bounds since he first pitched the idea to Future Worlds seeking to raise £10,000 of investment.

Sharif is embracing the thrills and challenges of his entrepreneurial journey and would encourage other students to follow his bold example.

“Just do it,” he says. “Take some time out on evenings and weekends and just try bring your idea into reality. It’s easier than ever to start your own company with limited resources, and you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve while still at university.”

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By Future Worlds22 Jun 2017