Language entrepreneur wins £20,000
19 March 2013
The founder of an online social community for language learners is the first winner of the £20,000 Aberystwyth University InvEnterPrize student competition.
Jake Stainer is a second year student studying Marketing and Spanish at Aberystwyth and founder and Managing Director of language website Papora, www.papora.com.
Papora was inspired by an exchange visit to the Spanish city of Gijon in 2007 and Jake’s desire to keep in touch with friends and improve his Spanish.
Free to use and designed to bring native speakers and learners together to exchange languages, Papora now boasts around 11,000 users from 135 countries learning more than 100 languages.
Jake plans to use his £20,000 prize to develop the site, add new features, increase its online presence and develop mobile applications.
He said: “I am very pleased to be the first winner of the University’s InvEnterPrize. I have been developing the idea behind Papora since I was 16 and this competition has given me the opportunity to test it with a panel of experienced business people who have cast a critical eye over it as a business proposition. Thankfully, they have seen the potential and given me a significant vote of confidence.”
“I firmly believe that anyone anywhere in the world should have the opportunity to learn new languages, regardless of their economic circumstances. For this reason Papora will always be free to use. However I am also keen to investigate the possibility of developing higher level services on the site that some people may be willing to pay for,” he added.
InvEnterPrize was launched in September 2012 to encourage entrepreneurship and stimulate new ideas for products or services that could be developed into successful businesses. It is open to all Aberystwyth University students.
Jake was one of six finalists to present their business proposals to a panel of five judges.
The Chairman of the InvEnterPrize panel of judges was Nigel Davies, an Aberystwyth graduate and founding director of Innoval Technology, a UK technology-based consultancy recently acquired by the Italian multinational Danieli.
Nigel Davies said: “All the finalists are to be congratulated on their work. Jake’s work is exceptional and has already proved to be popular. All the judges will no doubt follow with interest how this concept develops as he invests the prize money to develop Papora.”
“It is important to acknowledge the support of Aberystwyth University’s alumni in making this competition possible. Very few universities in the UK have been able to fund such an innovative competition from money donated by alumni. We are very grateful indeed to them for their support, which is testament to the high regard Aberystwyth graduates have for their alma mater.”
After completing his studies at John of Gaunt School in his home town of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, Jake spent a year working for a company developing online language courses in the Catalan town of Tarragona.
His love of the Spanish language and an interest in marketing led him to study Marketing and Spanish at Aberystwyth, one of only a few universities in the UK to offer this combination.
In September 2013 Jake will return to Spain for a year as part of his degree, and is waiting to hear whether he has been accepted to study at one of the country’s leading business schools in Barcelona.
After graduating, he intends to dedicate himself to building Papora into an internationally successful online business.
The other five InvEnterPrize finalists were Michael Konieczny (Department of European Languages), Marc Diaper (School of Management and Business) Alex Pitchford (Institute of Mathematics and Physics), Luke Marr (Department of English and Creative Writing) and Mick McMonagle (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences).
The proposals by Alex Pitchford and Mick McMonagle were commended by the judges.
Created to encourage entrepreneurship and stimulate new ideas for products or services that could be developed into successful businesses, InvEnterPrize was launched by Aberystwyth University in September 2012 and was open to all of the University’s students.
Six students made it through to the final round and presented their work to a panel of five judges under the chairmanship of Aberystwyth graduate and the founder director of Innoval Technology, Nigel Davies.
The other panel members were Jane Clayton, Chairman of Bay Leisure Limited and Practice Director at Graham Evans & Partners LLP, experienced venture capitalist Tony Diment, Peter Gradwell, founder of Gradwell dot com Ltd, and Huw Morgan, former Head of Business Banking at HSBC Bank plc.
The competition was organised by the University’s Commercialisation and Consultancy Services and the first prize of £20,000 was provided by the alumni of Aberystwyth University, via the University’s Annual Fund.
The winner can use the money to fund start-up costs, technical mentoring, protection of intellectual property and much more.
The Annual Fund
The Aberystwyth University Annual Fund is the most successful annual university fundraising campaign in Wales.
Over the past three years the Annual Fund has raised over £750,000 from alumni to fund a number of projects including postgraduate scholarships, new facilities and equipment for student sports societies and a hardship fund that helps students overcome unexpected financial difficulties.
Contributors to the 2011/12 Annual Fund campaign supported the aim of encouraging entrepreneurship and new career possibilities which led to the creation of the InvEnterPrize competition and the first prize of £20,000.
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