Sunderland student wins ‘Dragons’ Den’ payout

Dragons Den college contestants. Front row, left to right: Rachel Jenner, Ruhi Bhugra, Chris Johnson and Rosie Patterson.. Back row, left to right: Philip Reynolds, overall winner, Elliot Broadhurst, George Forsyth, Hannah Wilson, Corinne Wood and Daniel McGlynn.

Dragons Den college contestants. Front row, left to right: Rachel Jenner, Ruhi Bhugra, Chris Johnson and Rosie Patterson.. Back row, left to right: Philip Reynolds, overall winner, Elliot Broadhurst, George Forsyth, Hannah Wilson, Corinne Wood and Daniel McGlynn.

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A STUDENT impressed the dragons in the den to clinch funding for his business.

Philip Reynolds’ presentation helped him scoop £3,000 to launch his power tool, garage and construction equipment store at City of Sunderland College’s annual Dragons’ Den event.

Adult learner Philip, 29, clinched the cash after pitching his business idea, www.powermart.co.uk, to a panel of specially-selected experts from the North East business community.

The business will officially launch in May selling power tools.

Philip, a student at the college’s Hylton Skills Campus on a Level 1 carpentry and joinery diploma, said: “I’m over the moon to have won the Dragons’ Den competition and it’s given me a great boost to help me launch the service this year.

“I’ve been researching the sector for around two and half years and I can’t wait to get started.”

Philip, who moved to the city from Liverpool last year with his Sunderland-born fiancé Chelsea, was working as a taxi driver before joining the college.

He said: “While I was studying at university I was diagnosed with ME (myalgic encephalopathy), also known as CFS, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

“The illness had a serious effect on my studies and unfortunately delayed what I wanted to start after my studies. Now I’m raring to get the business up and running.

“Times are very tough for business set-ups, but I’m positive that I have the determination and enthusiasm to take my company from strength to strength.”

As well as providing the cash prize, over the coming year the college will also offer Philip expert advice and support.

Seven groups made their pitches to the dragons this year – the fourth time the event has been held at the college’s Bede Centre.

Two pitches were also awarded £1,000 each in support of their entrepreneurial ventures which included a smoothie business named “Smoooth” and a mobile beauty service.

Rob Whitton, higher education manager at the college, said: “Even during times of austerity, the greatest entrepreneurs can come forward and the standard of the pitches made by our students this year was very high.

“Each year we have a cohort of students brimming with ideas and creativity. We have enterprise activities running throughout the college all year and the Dragons’ Den event allows our students to showcase their ideas.”

The dragons included Jonathon Bruce, a financial consultant, Neil Price, enterprise talent scout for the Business Innovation Centre, Alison Donaldson, lecturer in business at the college and Rob Coxan, a regional manager for British Gas.