Horsham student, 17, wins at business competition despite being youngest entrant

Billy Venner is the Young Start Up Talent Winner 2019. Picture shows YST Co Founders Lorraine Nugent and Matt Turner all finalists and judges (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Billy Venner is the Young Start Up Talent Winner 2019. Picture shows YST Co Founders Lorraine Nugent and Matt Turner all finalists and judges (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A Horsham student has been crowned winner of a competition for young entrepreneurs, despite being the youngest contestant.

Billy Venner, 17, from Collyer’s, won Young Start-up Talent (YST) 2019 - a community-based project aimed at entrepreneurs aged between 16-25, looking to start their own business.

Young Start Up Talent finalists, judges and guests attending the 2019 ceremony at Thales (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Young Start Up Talent finalists, judges and guests attending the 2019 ceremony at Thales (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Billy said: “I am absolutely amazed to be this year’s winner and would encourage anyone to enter in future years.

“I have learnt so much through the process and look forward to working with the YST team, judges and sponsors to help grow my business.”

Billy took the title in recognition of the success of his online administrative gaming software business, GMod Admin Suite.

The business was started by Billy aged 14 and now caters to 800 customers in more than 100 countries.

He was described by the head of business studies at Collyer’s as an outstanding student.

Roger Raymond added: “We are incredibly proud of him and the other Collyer’s students who have enjoyed significant success in this competition over the years.

“Massive congratulations to Billy – his success is thoroughly deserved!”

The YST South East showcase took place at Thales UK in Manor Royal, Crawley, on Tuesday April 2 with a £50,000 prize fund, made up of a range of business products and services.

The fund provides the chosen winner with the vital support and guidance needed to start their own business with a more sustainable future.

The entrants to the competition were judged by a variety of experts.

They included David Kickham, operations director, Thales Group, Paul McConalogue, director of corporate and commercial banking Crawley and Gatwick Area, Natwest, Ana Christie, chief executive officer for the Sussex Chamber of Commerce and more.

David said: “It was good to see a diverse range of businesses this year – ranging from technology to clothing to cosmetics and well-being.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the finalists progress their businesses over the coming months and years.”

After launching this year’s initiative in July of 2018, YST has worked hard to find the very best young entrepreneurs from across the South East.

The successful applicants were then invited to a business workshop at Thales before they faced a selection of business professionals in a one to one styled speed-networking event at Basepoint Business Centre in Crawley.

From there, the candidates were whittled down to five finalists who pitched their refined business plans to a panel of six judges after submitting a 12-month plan.

The winner was announced after a two minute live pitch and audience vote.