Online entrepreneur to represent Lancaster University in business competition


A picture of Greg Wallace © UniRoomy
Greg Wallace

A Lancaster University graduate who has created an online business to help students find suitable accommodation has been selected to take part in a prestigious business competition.

Greg Wallace will represent Lancaster University and participate in the Santander Universities’ Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme 2020. He will compete alongside entrepreneurs from across the UK for a prize of £30,000 for his start-up, UniRoomy.

His new social venture provides students with a free search and review system for rental accommodation, helping them to avoid poor quality properties and unethical landlords, while providing good landlords with an invaluable advertising platform.

Mr Wallace graduated from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) in 2019 with a first class honours degree in Management and Entrepreneurship and a coveted Outstanding Achievement Award. While his experience at Lancaster was extremely positive, he found aspects of his off-campus privately-rented accommodation unsatisfactory. And he wasn’t the only one.

As Mr Wallace explains: “So many people I spoke to recounted some negative experience regarding their accommodation, whether it was falling short of the standard described in the advert, or a failure from the landlord to undertake the maintenance obligations outlined in their tenancy agreements. Rent is a big chunk of students’ living costs and if it’s not right, it can really get you down and affect your ability to concentrate on your studies. There’s no excuse for this, but individually tenants are at a disadvantage. I realised that I could help them to collectively redress the balance of power and ensure decent landlords could be recognised.”

Mr Wallace could see that a successful solution had the potential to be adopted anywhere there was a university, and by charging landlords advertising fees, it could generate enough revenue to be a sustainable business. 

He successfully pitched for Santander Universities funding through Lancaster’s Work in Progress team, which is enabling him to refine his platform and strengthen his networks, partnerships and potential customers across the UK.

Every UK university that is a ‘Santander Universities’ partner has identified a nominee to participate in the national Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme, scheduled to run to the final in September. This will involve participants pitching for the opportunity to win £30,000 of equity-free seed funding, business mentoring and a fully-funded intern. The programme has been quickly adapted into an entirely virtual programme due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

Mr Wallace was selected from a strong field of competitors to represent Lancaster University. The Work in Progress team, who co-ordinated the assessment process, were keen to emphasise that the decision was very close and that all of the applicants put in impressive applications. 

Simon Harrison, Enterprise Programme Manager at Lancaster University, said: “We’re delighted that Greg has been accepted onto this programme, where he’ll have access to invaluable networks, insights and opportunities. 

“This is a great example of how Lancaster students are responding to the new challenges presented by Covid-19, coming forward with new ideas for products and services, or pivoting and finding new directions and new markets. And we’re very fortunate to be able to continue offering support to these initiatives online, for our current leavers and for students joining or returning to Lancaster next academic year.”

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “I am delighted to hear of Greg’s success. He is an exemplar of the ambition we seek to develop in our students through the inspirational and challenging experience LUMS offers. We wish him the best of luck.”

The Lancaster University shortlisted entries included:

  • John Yates, Priority Learning
  • Gulcin Ergun, GET Business Consultancy & Analytics
  • Nicolas Orellana & Dominic Chippendale, O-Innovations
  • Maharani Hariga & Aditya Kadam, Garchi International
  • Fatemeh Takht Keshian, Cista Arts
  • Ashwin Abu & Aaroh Rathi, Hostmine

Any Lancaster students, or alumni, keen to access support for their own self-employment initiative, start-up, business idea or innovation project, including preparations to participate in other enterprise and innovation competitions or employment and recruitment processes, should contact workinprogress@lancaster.ac.uk.

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