Master’s graduate wins ‘Santander Venture Pitch 2020’

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Rachel Sinden
Rachel Sinden

Master’s graduate Rachel Sinden – Director of the 5* rated arts education company Play Pizzazz and author of the popular children’s picture book ‘Daisy’s Fuzzy Tummy’ faced a panel of judges and pitched her way to success at the Venture Pitch 2020.

Amongst the judges were some of the county’s most notable businesses, including Ellis and Co Accountants and Business Advisors; the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce; Santander Universities UK and RTC North, to name a few. Battling it out against eight other new businesses, Rachel won an ‘Excellence in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Scholarship Fund Award’ and membership to the Chamber of Commerce.

Rachel said: “I was graduating from my Master’s Degree in Creativity in Education from the University when I saw an email about the programme. I had arranged for a sabbatical year from my job as a Performing Arts Teacher for a local secondary school and was planning to start my own mindful arts education and consultation company, so it came at the perfect moment.”

Play Pizzazz launched in May of this year and supports schools, families and agencies to create accessible and fun education projects for children and young people. It has gained over 500 followers on social media and helped many children overcome the ‘return to school anxiety’ by using Daisy’s Fuzzy Tummy.  This illustrated picture book acts as an enabler to allow children to articulate their anxious feelings to those around them, thus helping them settle back into the school routine.

Play Pizzazz Logo
Play Pizzazz Logo

In addition, Rachel has already directly supported over 30 families and schools to help children navigate the pandemic through a mixture of arts led educational activities and storytelling sessions.

“It’s been an amazing few months and I’ve had some fantastic feedback from families that I’ve helped during lockdown. Winning this has just allowed me to move from strength to strength and I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome”, adds Rachel.

Kirsty Badrock, Entrepreneurship Coordinator for the Venture Pitch Programme, said: “Starting a business can be overwhelming! Venture has been designed to give students and graduates the skills, knowledge, confidence and connections for their entrepreneurial journey, through a series of webinars and one-to-one support delivered by entrepreneurs, business coaches, industry experts and professional services. As a candidate, Rachel has proven that with passion, a great idea and the right mindset, you can achieve your goals.”

Kirsty worked closely on the event with Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director for Santander Universities UK. Robert explains more about the programme and reflects on Rachel’s success. “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK so we’re pleased that our funding is able to support initiatives like the Venture Pitch providing opportunities to entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.Businesses like Play Pizazz are a great example of where our funding can make a difference in helping Rachel and her business to move forwards quickly. The judging panel were impressed with Rachel as a founder; in particular, her knowledge and enthusiasm for the business, as well as the societal need the business fulfils.”

Fellow judge at the event and Membership Director for West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Kennedy, said: “As a well-deserved winner of Venture Pitch 2020, we are delighted to be able to support Rachel with Chamber membership for the year and look forward to seeing how her business progresses.”

Also on the judging panel was Leon Stowell from Ellis and Co Chartered Accountants, who added: “Rachel was given the unenviable task of pitching first and she certainly did not disappoint, setting the bar high for the rest.  As judges, we only hope that the prizes awarded to Rachel will help her to achieve her goals and push the business forward.  Ellis and Co has supported the Venture programme for nearly 10 years and we have seen entrepreneurs go on to further success. We are sure that Rachel will follow suit!”

Motivational speaker Louise Hope also praised Rachel and her new business, saying: “Rachel shows great commitment to her profession and is highly qualified. She’s a strong entrepreneur with an excellent knowledge of her specialism.”

Rachel added: “I am so grateful for the prizes and the award. I has enabled me to really move the business forward, as I will soon be training to become a Special Education Needs Co-ordinator.  This will not only enable me to help children with specific needs, but it’s also a really exciting new strand for the business. To hear a panel of experts say that you are ‘an authentic and charismatic entrepreneur with a clear hard work ethic and a passion for what you do’ is some feedback I will never forget!”

Rachel’s book, Daisy’s Fuzzy Tummy, is available as an ebook on amazon and in a hard copy from www.playpizzazz.com

Rachel is available for consultations and workshops via the contact us section of the website or by emailing hello@playpizzazz.com. You can also follow Rachel on social media for regular updates and tips on Facebook @playpizzazz or Instagram @pizzazzplay.