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Budding entrepreneurs compete at Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2019

Marwan Elwaraki and Kumail Hussain, alumni of Newcastle University, START UP Founders and co-founders of HintPod have reached the semi-final heats of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2019.

The competition consists of three stages, which includes identifying the best student and graduate businesses; contestants presenting their business to a panel of experienced judges and attending an accelerator week where finalists will deliver a final pitch. What’s more winners will get £25,000 of equity-free seed funding as part of a packaged prize! We spoke to Marwan and asked him to tell us a little more about their business and what they will be doing at the competition:

“HintPod is a feedback platform that seamlessly integrates directly inside the apps of our clients. It came about after two realisations. Firstly, apps with a strong community aspect have more organic growth, less churn, and higher ratings. And secondly, most businesses weren’t building that strong community. So we built HintPod, with a mission to provide businesses with the infrastructure to build communities and collect feedback directly from their apps with little technical work. It takes just two lines of code to install it and our plug-in takes care of the rest!”

HintPod have had some great support from Newcastle University in their business venture. Marwan explained:

“Currently we're being supported by Newcastle University for the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa under which they have provided us with a START UP Business Advisor, Jackie, who has been with us from the start of the business. She has helped us with any problems that we have had and has guided us in running our business efficiently. She has also ensured that we are well informed about all of the requirements of running a business such as registering and any legal documents required of us.

“The University also introduced us to a panel of experts in different sectors of the industry such as marketing, finance, and legal. They all provided us with advice on how to excel our business in their respective sectors. We were introduced to Newcastle alumni, including those who are currently running their own businesses and were in the same situation when they were starting out, as we are right now. Some of them with tech expertise provided us with initial validation of our idea pushing us towards pursuing it with renewed confidence. We've also engaged with START UP Connect events at Newcastle University, where we met like-minded business entrepreneurs who have told us about their own experiences.”

Marwan then went on to tell use more about the exciting competition itself:

“The Santander competition is one of our most important opportunities yet. It puts us in-front of the eyes of many important people in the North of the UK. Winners of the competition get invited to an exclusive accelerator week, get funding, an intern, and a lot of publicity; all things we can benefit tremendously from.

“The competition encouraged us to accelerate our progress with HintPod. It pushed us to work through our to-do list at a quicker rate. It also helped us refine our business model and plan to ensure clarity throughout our mission and culture. We’ve put a lot of effort into our pitch and we think it does a good job explaining who we are and what value HintPod provides to businesses.”

Best of luck at the competition HintPod. We’re rooting for you here at Newcastle University, you got this! If you’d like to know more about their work, visit their website, You can follow their progress on social media too @hintpod.

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Marwan Elwaraki (right) and Kumail Hussain (left)

published on: 26 June 2019