Students Staff

21 October 2016

Creative entrepreneurs at East 15 win £3,000 investment at Big Pitch 2016

Piotr and Katarzyna Pawarska

Piotr and Katarzyna Pawarska

A group of stilt-walkers and performers based at East 15 Acting School have won £3,000 of investment to develop their business after impressing judges at the Big Pitch 2016.

StiltsPro was founded by second year BA World Performance student Piotr Pawarski and his wife Katarzyna Pawarska, in partnership with fellow students Sophie Turner, Lauren Russell, Natasha Lanceley, Elliot Windsor, Aida Lungu and Emily Baker.

They amazed the Big Pitch judges – which included leading Essex business figures – with their business plan to use their theatrical skills to create unusual performances, education projects and advertisement opportunities.

The £3,000 investment will allow them to expand and promote their business and buy stage equipment including a new PA and lighting system.

Piotr said: “This is our greatest success so far. It will allow us to 'take off' and spread our wings.”

The Big Pitch is part of the Essex Startups programme which nurtures student entrepreneurs. Out of the 23 teams which took part in a business bootcamp in June seven won their way through to the final including StiltsPro.

Over the summer StiltsPro had to develop a comprehensive business plan with the help of Enterprise Officer Christine Michaelis.

They then had to present this plan to 12 judges – including entrepreneurs, students and staff.

Piotr and his team were able to show how StiltPro achieved a profit in its first six months – with incredibly positive feedback from clients and the public.

StiltsPro plans workshops, training and performances

StiltsPro performer

A StiltsPro performer

Alongside their commercial work StiltsPro members also have a dream to take their shows across the world and they are planning to launch a crowdfunding drive to support their plans to take one of their plays to a refugee camp in France or Greece.

Katarzyna, who will start studying at East 15 next year, points out that profits will support this other creative work. She said: “We are seeking to reach the UK and worldwide audiences that need theatre the most. We’ll accomplish this by offering entertainment services for events, and street-theatre advertising solutions for businesses which can then support our theatrical endeavours.

“Our dream is to find places on the planet torn apart by wars, disasters, or unrest, and give hope, educate and inspire, without bias.”

Other StiltsPro projects include developing a comprehensive training programme for stilit-walking including a five-day workshop in December, a two-day gathering in March for stilt-walkers across the UK and a street theatre summer course in Poland.

StiltsPro is also closely involved in the promotion of Southend-on-Sea as the Alternative City of Culture 2017. This includes the Great Launch on New Year’s Eve. Piotr has also been asked to become the creative director of Southend Carnival.

Backing student entrepreneurs at Essex

Finalists in the Big Pitch 2016

Finalists in the Big Pitch 2016

Two other student-led businesses received funding after impressing judges with their business plans.

Christine Michaelis said: “It was a tough choice for the judges and everyone got voted for. I am really proud of everyone who participated in the Essex Startups Bootcamp and Big Pitch and am looking forward to how the businesses develop in the future. The judges and myself were really impressed by the quality of the business plans and the student’s passion for their projects.”

Online beauty brand Glamville founded by James Sesay, Wumi Ogunyemi, Emeka Onwuezobe and Victoria Tarbard received a £2,000 investment to move their business forward. In last year’s Big Pitch event they won investment worth £1,000 and they already have their minimum viable product (MVP) in place and have built up a high number of followers on social media.

Third place was taken by He-Ha, a company established by Sarah Qu, which received £1,000. Sarah aims to connect international students with elderly people wanting to learn about how to use new technology. Sarah believes her project can help students enhance their oral communication skills while supporting older people get the most from their laptops, tablets and smart phones. She has already run a successful trial workshop and received excellent feedback.

The Employability and Careers Centre offers a vast range of support for Essex Startups students. For more info go to: or email Christine at

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