Enter the AXA Startup Angel competition to win £25,000 for your business idea

Calling all aspiring entrepreneurs – share your idea to win a cash prize and kick-start your business with valuable mentoring
7 minutes ago

Whether you’ve recently started a new venture, or have always had an amazing idea for one, now is the time to turn your dream into reality.

The AXA Startup Angel competition – from AXA Business Insurance in partnership with the Evening Standard – is back for a third year.

This exciting opportunity gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to win vital startup capital, while gaining first-class mentoring from some of the UK’s most inspiring entrepreneurs.  

What you could win

There are six opportunities to win this year’s competition. Two winners will receive the top prize of £25,000 to fund their business idea. On top of this, the winners will get valuable mentoring from the AXA Startup Angels and business insurance for a year, thanks to AXA.

There are also four runners-up prizes featuring over £18,000 of media, mentoring and exposure. Each runner-up will receive a profile on their business in the Evening Standard, mentoring with a member of the Evening Standard team, plus VIP access to SME XPO 2025.

Picking this year’s most inspiring ideas are the AXA Startup Angels, pictured above: Henry Firth and Ian Theasby (co-founders of vegan food brand BOSH!), Sharmadean Reid MBE (founder and CEO of The Stack World), and Raphael Sofoluke (founder and CEO of UK Black Business Week and UK Black Business Show).

The judging panel also includes the Evening Standard's senior business reporter Lucy Tobin, and AXA Business Insurance head of marketing Julie White. The judges will choose the two winning entries and three of the runners-up, while the fourth runner-up will be selected by the People's Choice poll.

They’re looking for creative, unique, and problem-solving ideas and entrepreneurs who are fuelled by passion.

AXA Angels
The Angels will share their business expertise in mentoring sessions

It’s easy to enter the competition

There’s no need to feel daunted about entering the competition – you just have to answer a couple of questions about your new venture or big idea, and film a short pitch video.

The questions are:

  • Tell us about your business idea. What problem or customer need does it address?
  • What would winning this prize mean for you and your business? How would you spend the £25,000 and what would you get out of the mentoring?

Each answer should be no longer than 200 words. Then, upload a one-minute elevator pitch video telling us about you, why you’re passionate about your business idea and why we should choose you.

Visit the AXA Startup Angel competition hub to enter, and complete your submission before 23.59 on 2 June 2024.

What are the judges looking for?

  • You tell a clear and compelling story which inspires the judges
  • You display drive, passion and excitement for your business idea, tell a great story about your startup business, and show that you would be a good ambassador
  • You demonstrate a clear understanding of your target market, where your product or service will be positioned, and the problem it solves
  • Your submission clearly accounts for how you intend to spend the £25,000 prize money and how you would benefit from the mentoring

How to make your entry shine, according to the judges

Raphael Sofoluke
Raphael Sofoluke would like to know how you'd spend the prize money

The AXA Startup Angels now have a few years of judging experience under their belts, so they know what it takes for an application to stand out.

“To me, it’s the combination of creativity and commercialism,” says networking maven Reid. “Having the creative thought, having the idea to put something out in the world – but at the end of the day, this is a business competition. It should be commercially viable. That mix of creativity, and practical commercialism should come across in the written aspect. I think the customer today wants to feel really connected to the businesses that they’re buying from, so brand is really important too.”

Firth wants to know what mentoring can do for you. “Tell us in just a couple of words, what can we help you with? Contacts? Advice? Fundraising? Anything else? We’re here to help, tell us how. This will also help us understand how you’re thinking about the next phase of your business.” 

His BOSH! co-founder wants to be sold on your abilities and level of planning. “You’d hope that the plan they’ve made, the figures they’ve worked out and their vision is something that you get excited about yourself,” Theasby says.

Sofoluke is after the details: “I would like to see a better breakdown on how exactly you are going to spend the prize money to elevate your business, and how we can help you through our mentoring.”

Sharmadean Reid MBE
Sharmadean Reid MBE is keen to see a blend of creativity and commercialism in your pitch

How to make a great pitch video

When making your video, don’t worry about it being overly produced. The judges are looking for a really great idea and a story to tell.

“I know that recording your pitch video can seem incredibly daunting, but relax,” Reid advises. “We’re all rooting for you, and we want you to win. Just imagine that you’re telling your business idea to a family member with passion and excitement – how you’re going to start this business and grow it. That’s what we want to hear and see.”

For Sofoluke, it’s all about passion. “I believe whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability,” he says. “Be confident. Work on your eye contact, adjust your posture, and speak slowly and clearly. You have one opportunity to make an impression and win a sum of money that could potentially change your life. I want to hear what problem you are solving and what makes this idea unique. If you can portray this in your submission, you’ll have a very good chance.”

Henry Firth and Ian Theasby
Henry Firth and Ian Theasby want applicants to think about how mentoring will benefit their business

“A pitch video is a short format. You don’t have long to communicate your business idea effectively,” explains Firth. “Think of it as an extended elevator pitch. Then try to do something to wow us to give you all the chance of winning. Show us a spark, some magic, something to make you stand out from the crowd. It will be really nice to see enthusiasm – to see people applying who are brimming with enthusiasm and really passionate about the things they’re into.”

Firth continues: “Start with your business’s why: what’s the purpose; what’s going to drive you to work the long hours required to get it off the ground? Show us you know what you’re talking about. What is your product and who is your customer? What customer need does your product solve? How are you going to bring your product to market? How are you planning to finance your business’s growth? Tell us about your numbers, what do you expect to make if your business goes according to plan? Do all of that in just a few minutes, and you’ll be in a good position to make the final shortlist.” 

Enter the competition now

So, if you think you have the winning business idea, what are you waiting for? Enter now. Future You will thank you.

You can also join our AXA Startup Angel community on LinkedIn for insider tips, support from the Angels and to network with other entrepreneurs. 

Terms apply. 18+ UK Residents only. Entry period closes at 23.59 on 2 June 2024. One entry per business.

Please read full terms here before entering.