Cosmetics, baking and brewing: meet the Amazon Campus Challenge winners
The finalists of this year’s Amazon Campus Challenge have been announced – as more than 200 teams of students from around the UK competed for the top prize of £10,000.
The Amazon Campus Challenge tasked groups of students with an interest in e-commerce to team up with local small businesses to help them grow their sales on Amazon and reach customers around the world.
To be successful, they had to hone their e-commerce skills, learn how to set up a real-life business on Amazon, and consider how best to market that company’s products to a global audience.
Entries were judged by a panel of business leaders, who were impressed by the creative thinking from student teams across the country.
Meet the winning teams
Amazon is delighted to announce this year’s winner, Prime Trio – a team consisting of Arun, Arushi and Nikhila from Birmingham University, who worked in partnership with Pura Cosmetics.
Arun, Arushi and Nikhila will split the £10,000 prize money – and they will now have an opportunity to interview for a job at Amazon in the UK.
The two runners-up were Imperial Biz, a team from Imperial College London who worked with award-winning bakery fitbakes, and QWERTY Worldwide, a team from the University of Exeter and City University London who teamed up with organic craft beer producer Stroud Brewery. The runners-up will receive £7,000 and £5,000 in prize money, respectively. Runners up in 4th and 5th place receive £3000 each.
“Discovering and inspiring the next generation of e-commerce superstars is something we’re passionate about, and it’s this passion that led to the creation of the Amazon Campus Challenge,” said Simon Donegan, UK Head of Seller Services, Amazon. “The competition offered a great opportunity for students to test and develop their business skills in a real-life environment and we are delighted the teams had a rewarding experience.”
The winners and runners-up told us about what they learned from the Amazon Campus Challenge – and their plans for an exciting future in business.
Ethical cosmetics with ‘Prime Trio’, Birmingham University
With no prior business experience, team members Arun, Arushi, and Nikhila from Birmingham University were surprised and delighted to have come first in this year’s competition.
“Neither myself nor my team members study business or e-commerce” Arushi explains. “Initially, we applied to take part because we thought it would help us with graduate internships in the future.”
As big fans of ethically-sourced and natural cosmetic products, they came across Pura Cosmetics – a growing eco-friendly brand specialising in cosmetics for dry, chapped and sore lips. All produce is made in the UK with zero plastic packaging.
The team worked hard to understand Pura’s existing business strategy, fulfilment methods, and looked at how similar-sized businesses functioned on Amazon.
“Since embarking on the challenge we have learnt so much about running a small business, logistics and supply – and we really enjoyed working with Rose at Pura Cosmetics. Dealing with our business partner’s money and products taught us responsibility and how to maintain motivation,” Arushi adds.
As medical and engineering students, has the Amazon Campus Challenge helped to shape their future careers? Arushi, says: “Absolutely – our team is now considering roles at Amazon after our post-graduate degrees, or something with an entrepreneurial skew!”
Low sugar, high protein cakes with ‘Imperial Biz’, Imperial College London
Cerine, Dan, Garima, Nimisha and Simon all study business-related degrees at Imperial College London, and they used their knowledge to pinpoint the food and beverage sector.
In a historically competitive and low-margin industry, they took a different approach by using the food start-up community Young Foodies to find an exciting, up-and-coming business.
They went on to partner with fitbakes, an award-winning bakery specialising in low sugar, high protein cakes made with natural ingredients.
“The Amazon Campus Challenge allowed us to explore the mechanics of e-commerce and understand what it takes to run an e-commerce business,” Dan explains.
“Hands-on entrepreneurial experience is incredibly important, both for personal and professional development. Being an entrepreneur is a crash course in life and business skills that may take much longer to develop if you don’t have this kind of opportunity!”
“Not only has the competition taught us a sense of ownership and personal responsibility, but it also made us think carefully about how to stand out from competition, build relationships and communicate value to customers.”
Organic craft beer with ‘QWERTY Worldwide’, University of Exeter and City University London
Ben, Nicki and Quinn are three friends who first discovered the Amazon Campus Challenge on Facebook.
“We knew our degrees in business and psychology would help us with some of the core skills required,” explains Quinn.
They looked at the best-selling items on Amazon’s online store and spotted a high level of demand for craft beer. Inspired by the opportunity to partner with a local business in their hometown, they teamed up with organic craft beer specialist Stroud Brewery.
The partnership proved so successful that the team has partnered with a number of other local craft breweries to support their online sales – which proved particularly useful during the coronavirus lockdown.
“The Campus Challenge was a great opportunity to work with businesses big and small, which isn’t an experience university necessarily provides,” says Quinn. “We’re especially pleased that we got to help the brewery during lockdown when sales would have otherwise struggled and were able to reach customers all over the country.”
“Since the competition ended, Nicki and I have gone all-in with our QWERTY Beer Box start-up, and Ben has scaled his own business selling accessories on Amazon. We’re thrilled to be helping consumers experience authentic craft beer from all over the UK!”
Tens of thousands of UK-based small and medium-sized businesses sell their products in Amazon’s stores across the world and Amazon provides practical support and services to help them grow. More than 60% of UK businesses selling on Amazon export to customers all over the world. In 2019 they achieved total export sales of more than £2.75bn and supported more than 85,000 job opportunities in the UK.
Find out more about the Amazon Campus Challenge.