Twenty-two-year-old Karl Swanepoel, an Aberystwyth University Artificial Intelligence and Robotics graduate, has secured a place in the final of the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions innovation competition.
Karl won the University’s InvEnterPrize 2021 student entrepreneurship competition with his invention Revolancer, a freelance marketplace that connects skilled freelancers with ambitious businesses looking to grow.
The national final of the Engineers in Business Champion of Championsinnovation competition takes place on 22 October 2021 at the Royal Academy of Engineering, hosted by TV presenter Rob Bell.
At the event, Karl will pitch his innovation against nine other teams of student and graduate innovators, in an online dragons’ den style competition. Karl will have six minutes to convince the judges, through his presentation and Q&A session, that he should be crowned a Champion of Champions.
A sum of £15,000 is up for grabs, providing vital seed money to help the winners develop their innovation. The winners will also receive mentoring from business leaders who are members of the Sainsbury Management Fellows network, plus CV packages from Purple CV and entrepreneurial books from Cambridge University Press.
The competition is sponsored by the registered charity, Engineers in Business Fellowship which supports one of the prizes in the annual Aberystwyth University InvEnterPrize competition.
Karl’s business idea, Revolancer, is a freelance marketplace that uses AI-powered quality control as a standard, keeping overheads low. As a result, buyers hiring freelancers get both value and quality without compromise. Karl recently launched Revolancer Beta, and already has over 150 users enjoying the platform. Revolancer’s advisory board includes the founding CMO of Just Eat.
The idea for Revolancer came to Karl during his teenage years and having acquired business innovation skills he has hit the ground running since graduating this year as he explains: “I freelanced as a teenager to make some money online. I quickly realised that existing platforms don’t treat freelancers fairly, and that there was a better way to do things. I’ve always wanted to start a business, and this is a problem that I felt passionate about solving.”
The Engineers in Business competition is designed to inspire engineers to study business and innovation. Karl said: “Engineering and entrepreneurship have a lot in common. With both, you strive to find creative solutions to complex problems, and provide value by making something more efficient. Business skills should be taught to engineering students alongside mentorship. I couldn’t have achieved what we have without the mentorship of a number of experienced individuals, who all kindly gave their time to help us develop a stronger pitch and business model.”
Commenting on reaching the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Final Karl said, “Taking part in the final is an incredible opportunity, and I’m very grateful to have progressed to this stage. It was fantastic to meet the other finalists and learn about their ideas too, and I’m very excited to pitch to the judges and hopefully win their support.”
Alice Earp, Communications & Public Affairs, Aberystwyth University