Here are the five nominees for the Business Mentor of the Year Category. These individuals have supported a SETsquared student/student group to carry out enterprising activity at their university. 

Ray Crispin (University of Bristol)

Ray has been a tremendous supporter of enterprise education at the university for a number of years. He has up to three surgery sessions each term in which he advises and mentors student businesses, offering valuable insight from his years of experience as an entrepreneur, engineer and investor. That alone can help twelve student businesses a term. 

He also teaches sessions on IP at our Monday Means Business masterclass series and Spark Bootcamp. His last session for the former had students from fourteen different businesses attending, whilst the latter had approximately fifty attendees. 

We are particularly impressed with Ray’s dedication outside of these sessions in supporting students and the student enterprise team. He spends considerable amounts of his free time following up with students after their sessions, and when referring IP issues to him we get an email reply within minutes

David Solomides (University of Exeter)

David Solomides is a long term friend of the Innovation Centre at Exeter and through 2012/13 he has worked closely with a handful of students who are at the advanced stage of development with their businesses. 

David has provided workshops for small groups which focus particularly on understanding your customer and ensuring that you are meeting real needs.

In addition, David works more closely with a small number of student businesses looking at all aspects of their development, from business model development, to operational efficiency and product development.

David has also utilised the contacts which he has developed through his own business activities to help create opportunities for the student businesses he supports. This has included facilitating introductions to a consortium of Exeter Schools for a student with an educational product as well as allowing another business to have preferential presentation space at conference which he was organising, in order to open up a new route to market for a new product.

David's willingness to help and his proactive nature in offering support and providing advice is a great benefit to University of Exeter's entrepreneurial students and we hope it will continue for years to come.

Janet Preston (University of Surrey)

Janet Preston is Managing Director of Cold Fuzion, her own independent business consultancy.  She graduated from the University of Surrey with an honours degree in Physics.

Over the last year Janet has been a stalwart supporter and mentor for student groups at the University of Surrey.  Namely:-

  • The Unipopshop team for Spitalfields in 2012
  • Business Advisor for one of the Young Enterprise teams.
  • Mentor of Surrey Enterprise Company Ltd
  • Judge at this years SETsquared Xing event
  • Speaker at a Surrey Entrepreneurs event on how to set up a business.

As a physics graduate from Surrey, Janet's passion is to encourage non business students to get  involved in business.  She has given freely of her time and expertise and has been a great supporter not only for Surrey students but also staff, advising on, and helping to develop and deliver, new enterprise initiatives.

Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Janet was a Partner at KPMG.  Janet is Education Liaison Officer for the Institute of Directors in Surrey and a member of the Surrey Board of Young Enterprise.  

This nomination is much deserved and we thank Janet for her hard work over the last year.

John Hall (University of Southampton)

This mentor has provided me with sound and realistic advice throughout the growth and development of my idea. When we first met I was struggling to make the company profitable and had no one to trust with my idea. I was beginning to lose confidence in both myself and my company.

Since then, he has successfully managed to give me invaluable feedback and advice on my presentations and given me the confidence to pursue various opportunities which have managed to land me an investment interest worth 100 thousand pounds and a paid summer internship in London working for a multimillion dollar start-up venture.  

Nick Laing (University of Bath)

Nick Laing, Carlain Property Company - joined the University of Bath mentoring programme in Spring 2012 and since then has generously given up his time to mentor many students involved in our enterprise activities.  Nick lives in France and Cheltenham so balancing his time is especially challenging but this hasn't stopped him attending numerous student events and advising on a wide range of student activities.  He mentored one of the finalists in this year's Business Plan Competition Event and also sits on the Enterprise Board for the University - advising staff and students on strategy to support student enterprise.  Nick has a great ability to relate to a range of students and is one of our most popular mentors.