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Housemate finder Fledge clinches student start-up award

15 April 2020

A business that tackles isolation by helping students find the perfect housemate has won Cardiff University’s Student Start-Up Awards.

Fledge, founded by BA English Language graduate Gabriella Holmes, scooped a £3,000 Go-Getter prize from Santander Universities and a package of legal support from Darwin Gray LLP.

The 12th annual awards were held remotely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with the judging panel announcing the winners over Skype.

Gabriella said: “We’re thrilled to win the Go Getter category. The Fledge team will use this investment to propel our business forward and help as many students as we can in their hunt for housing and housemates. Thank you to Cardiff University, Santander and Darwin Gray for the support!”

As a graduate, Gabriella accessed Cardiff University’s Careers & Employability support which includes seed-funding for her business idea and Business Mentoring.

Runner-up was Sebastian Walker (BMus Music, 2017) who took away £2,000 from Santander Universities and workspace in Tramshed Tech.

Fellow Go-Getter runner-up, research student Joseph Williams, claimed the Engineers Award, supported by Engineers in Business Fellows. Joseph’s business, Rusty Design, is a rapid prototyping and small-scale manufacturing business.

“We're thrilled to have been part of the Cardiff University Start-up Awards,” said Joseph. “The prize money will help us buy 3D printers to increase our manufacturing capacity and allow us to broaden the services we offer to customers.”

Rhys Pearce-Palmer, Enterprise Manager at Cardiff University said: “During these extraordinary times there have been remarkable examples of businesses playing a vital civic and social role.

“Many small firms have defied expectations by adapting and diversifying their products and services to a changing world. It’s incredibly important that during this time we continue to champion and support budding entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.”

The awards covered eight categories. Freedom Seeker Winner was Tom Harvey (MSc Logistics and Operations Management), awarded £2,000 from Santander Universities.

“Everyone at Mention Clothing is over the moon with our award,” said Tom. “The prize money will help us in our challenge to break down the stigma around men’s mental health. Through more advertising and pop-up shops we hope to increase exposure to the brand, and in turn, spread our message of encouraging men to talk, one t-shirt at a time.”

Freedom Seeker runner-up Joycelyn Longdon (BSc Astrophysics, 2019) was awarded £1,250 from Santander Universities.

“For a teeny agency like BLACKONBLACK, who are dedicated to diversifying the creative industry and supporting our wide network of talented creatives of colour, a cash injection is incredible,” said Joycelyn.

It means we can put in motion planned initiatives and support our community, a lot of whom are struggling financially amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.

Joycelyn Longdon (BSc Astrophysics, 2019)

During the pandemic, Careers & Employability are continuing to offer employability and enterprise support, such as online learning resources, video appointments, webinars and work placements undertaken through remote working.

All the winners will continue to have access to business mentoring and start-up resources to make the most of their prizes.

Full list of winners:

  • Go-Getter Winner: Gabriella Holmes (BA English Language, 2018)
    • £3,000 from Santander Universities
    • Free legal package from
  • Go-Getter Runner-up: Sebastian Walker (BMus Music, 2017)
    • £2,000 from Santander Universities
    • Workspace in Tramshed Tech
  • Go-Getter Runner-up: Joseph Williams, (Doctor of Philosophy Bioscience)
    • £1,500 from Santander Universities
  • Freedom Seeker Winner: Tom Harvey (MSc Logistics and Operations Management)
    • £2,000 from Santander Universities
  • Freedom Seeker Runner-up: Joycelyn Longdon (BSc Astrophysics, 2019)
    • £1,250 from Santander Universities
  • Freedom Seeker Runner-up: Jack Blundell (BSc Applied Software Engineering)
    • £1,250 from Santander Universities
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences award: Claudia Mario (MSc Sport and Exercise Physiotherapy)
    • £1,250 from Santander Universities
    • Workspace and mentoring from Medicentre
  • Engineers Award: Joseph Williams
    • £1,500 from Engineers in Business Fellows

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