Leeds Trinity graduate Gareth Craven will compete in the final of Britain's biggest small business competition, The Pitch, at Google's offices in London this week.
22-year old Gareth is the youngest entrepreneur in the competition, and the only representative from West Yorkshire. He will compete against 14 of the country's finest businessmen and women on Wednesday 23 November, and pitch his online art commissioning platform, Hire an Artist.
"It's a really incredible and proud feeling, to be able to stand up against some of the best businesses and entrepreneurs in the country," said Gareth. "I'm up against some truly game-changing companies, and it's inspiring to be competing against them."
Of the hundreds of businesses that entered, 50 were invited to attend an intensive business boot camp last month, and 15 were chosen for the final. On Wednesday, each entrepreneur will be given three minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges, before the winner is announced.
Gareth said: "To win would be just amazing, and would be definitive proof that all the work I have put in at university, and over the past few years, have been worth it.
"The benefits for the business are huge: getting feedback from people who have already made it; the exposure within an incredible valuable network of people; and other businesses that I could develop key relationships with, it's all invaluable."
Gareth launched Hire an Artist last year, during his final year of studying Business at Leeds Trinity University. He is now based on campus at the Leeds Trinity Enterprise Centre and is grateful for the ongoing support he receives.
"I would not be where I am now without the support I received from Leeds Trinity," said Gareth. "The first time I ever pitched at the University's Business Network, I was so nervous – but I got so much support and practice, that I can now pitch to crowds of more than 500 people.
"Being based at the Enterprise Centre is really useful. Not only was I given funding to develop my idea, I also had access to professional marketing, accounting and legal support.
"But, it was the course itself that really inspired me to start my own business. The one to one tuition I got from the lecturers was so influential, and the best thing was that they had all worked in the industry, including some of the biggest companies in the world, like Unilever and Proctor and Gamble."
The winner of The Pitch 2016 will win a £15,000 PR package, consultancy support, online advertising, a LinkedIn business account and more. You can follow the competition on Twitter using #ThePitch16.
For more information about Hire an Artist, and to view Gareth's semi-final pitch, visit The Pitch 2016 website.