An app that supports teenagers through puberty and an AI software company that helps satellites become smarter have been named as joint winners of the Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum annual pitching competition at Saïd Business School – splitting a £5,000 prize.
Luna is on a mission to change the way that puberty is taught, talked about and experienced by teenagers. Luna is an app for girls and non-binary teens, aged 11-16, to educate, empower and support them on their journey to adulthood.
It offers fun, engaging and factually accurate content on topics such as skincare, period care, anatomy and mental health. It also helps users to get expert answers to questions and to buy, try and review age-appropriate products.
Luna was founded in 2021 by Jas Schembri and Jo Goodall, ex-management consultants. Both completed their MBAs at Saïd Business School in 2020/21. They were inspired to set up the company when a university project highlighted their lack of education about adolescence at school.
“As adults, we both still have questions about our bodies and health. We also have friends that could have prevented health issues had they known about certain topics and red flags when they were younger,” says Jo Goodall, co-founder.
“This generation has misinformation available at the touch of a button. We want to help them understand how best to navigate their teenage years, so they emerge as happy, healthy, successful members of society.”
The other winning team – Little Place Labs – is helping satellites become smarter. It is bringing machine learning and AI capabilities onto satellites to increase their ability to generate critical insights whilst in orbit, in near-real-time. It means they can detect objects and events such as climate and natural disasters, and can assist with commercial/defence applications.
Little Place Labs was founded in 2020 by Bosco Lai, Gaurav Bajaj and Liubov Sergeeva – all current Executive MBA students at Saïd Business School. They are supported by business and technology teams of nine members and three advisors who are veterans in the defence and space industry. Whilst they all come from different professional backgrounds, they have a common vision of changing the world for the better by connecting space, technology and people.
“Using wildfires as one example, which we have seen some of the worst years in history recently, and we know that quicker detection with satellite data plays a huge part in mitigating losses,” says co-founder and CEO, Bosco Lai.
“When we researched this and spoke with SMEs, we realised that bringing AI to satellites and making them smarter could be a potential solution. The space industry is one of the fastest transforming and growing industries and the possibilities are endless.”
Run by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Saïd Business School, the awards give recognition and financial support to ventures that have been started by University of Oxford students, staff or alumni.
Luna and Little Place Labs were among eight Oxford-affiliated start-ups that pitched their ventures to a panel of judges at the Oxford Said Entrepreneurship Forum on 25 February 2022. They were shortlisted from a total of 25 applications from across the University.
The other shortlisted candidates included Delic – an online collaboration platform for musicians; UJJI – a game-based coaching app to improve employee well-being; and PasanaQ – a savings app to help people in South America who can’t access traditional banks.
Maria Zubeldia, Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Saïd Business School, said “The pitching competition was highly competitive with businesses spanning across different industries including: femtech, space, fintech, B2B, mental wellbeing and drug discovery.
“The teams delivered extremely compelling and exciting pitches that made it really difficult for judges to make a final decision. This year’s crop was possibly the best yet, a real testament to the developing ecosystem at Oxford. The panel decided to finally split the prize between two Luna and Little Place Labs teams as they were both outstanding and equally deserved to win.”
Applicants were judged on how well they presented themselves, the market opportunity for their business, and how innovative they were – as well as their financial plans and the strength of their team.
Pictured: Jenny Tooth, Chief Executive of UKBAA and winning team, Jo Goodall, Co-founder of Luna