AN innovative beauty app dubbed ‘Mallzee for make-up’ by a prominent angel investor has been crowned the winner at a Dragons’ Den style pitching competition in Glasgow.
‘Elegance Beauty’ took top prize at the final of the RookieOven Academy, a six-week course designed to develop digital and entrepreneurial skills in secondary school pupils. The app idea was the brainchild of Selina Gourlay and Dilusha Francis Aloysioos, two 16 year olds from Glasgow who were keen to address the difficulties some women face when finding the right make-up.
The team came up with the concept of an app that matches cosmetics to a user’s skin colour while adding a unique feature that offers suggestions based on specific preferences, such as ethical, vegan or cruelty free cosmetics.
Selina and Dilusha were among 15 pupils who won a place on the RookieOven Academy, an ambitious start-up school for teens that gave them a taste of life as a digital entrepreneur. It culminated with the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel of real life investors and entrepreneurs.
Kenny Fraser, CEO of Sunstone Communication and a well-known angel investor, led the judging panel and praised the team for their thorough and imaginative approach.
He said: “I was blown away by the creativity and innovation shown by all the pupils taking part. Having seen many pitches in my time as an investor, I was impressed with how these ideas compared with other ‘real’ business pitches.
“Elegance Beauty was a clear winner for the panel. Having invested in Mallzee myself, I saw this app as delivering a similar service for make-up. The team thought of everything from the app’s potential market and business model to their pitch presentation and marketing plan. On top of all this they also created a website and written content, which showed a genuine passion for their product.”
Other app ideas pitched to the judges included a smart chair operated by an app to reduce back problems for office workers and a mind-mapping app to help improve learning potential.
Ensuring the pupils developed a viable business model were the Academy’s expert mentors including Ashley Baxter from Insurance by Jack, Mallzee’s Cally Russell and Rohan Gunitallake from Mindfulness Everywhere.
“The RookieOven Academy was a fantastic opportunity to get to grips with how a tech start-up works,” said winner Selina Gourlay. “I’m going on to study software engineering in September so this experience has been invaluable in showing what it takes to become a successful digital entrepreneur. I really hope that one day I can turn an idea like this into reality.”
Glasgow’s RookieOven tech incubator hosted the course at its space in Govan. It received support from Glasgow City Council and Skills Development Scotland’s Digital World campaign.
Michael Hayes, RookieOven founder, said: “The Academy was something completely new for us but the process really encouraged participants to think outside the box and get creative so we are keen to try to roll it out to more students.
“Kick starting a digital business is not easy and I’m incredibly proud of everybody who took part in our pilot project. It’s vital we give the younger generation support and experience as early as possible to nurture the tech entrepreneurs of the future.”
David Martin, Key Sector Manager for Creative Industries at Skills Development Scotland (SDS) said: “The quality of the pitches demonstrates how much the young people have learned from being a part of the RookieOven Academy.
“It reflects the fact that succeeding in today’s creative marketplace requires not just talent and great ideas, but the digital and entrepreneurial skills to turn those ideas into a business.
“This lies at the centre of the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Creative Industries published last year, and we will continue working with partners such as RookieOven to help more young people find pathways into the sector.”
Mark Irwin, Principal Officer - STEM Innovation, Education Services from Glasgow City Council, said: “The RookieOven Academy gave young people the chance to work with inspiring local tech start ups, to learn from them and to be mentored in how to develop a digital idea into a business.
“It is a great example of the work the city council and its partners are doing to develop engagement and skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths), and we look forward to more of our young people having this fantastic opportunity”