A student entrepreneur from Merton College is set to take the business world by storm after winning a national enterprise competition. Julieta Ose Ahmedze, an 18-year-old Level 3 business student, won £1,000 after giving a three minute pitch on her oxygen cocktail business idea, OxyOse, at the 2014 Student Enterprise Conference in Sheffield. And now the student has investors and banks vying to offer her the £30,000 investment to grow her business.
Julieta from Wandsworth said: “Since the competition, I’ve had so many investors and banks calling to offer me the money, it feels like a dream. The publicity I’ve had from winning is incredible. I’m still trying to decide what to do and where to go next because I have a lot of options but it’s really exciting.”
The student began researching the health beverage two years ago after her mum, who drank the cocktails while she was pregnant with her in Latvia, mentioned she had a dream about the product. Invented by a Russian doctor in the 1970s, the health benefits of the cocktails include increased concentration, weight loss and improved sleep. The drinks contain a fruit juice base and an oxygen concentrator to increase the oxygen content before a mixing process combines the juice with the oxygen. Although available in countries including Russia and South Africa, Julieta found there was a gap in the UK market.
She said: “When I heard about these drinks I thought it was such a great product, especially in London because the air is so polluted. On average the air we breathe is about 21% oxygen and the cocktails give you a boost you can feel. I’d never tried an oxygen cocktail until I bought the machines but the benefits were so amazing I just had a gut feeling they’d be popular.”
It wasn’t until six months ago she plucked up the courage to kick start her business and funded OxyOse through a government-funded scheme chaired by Dragons' Den star, James Caan. After emailing him 'as a bit of a joke', Julieta was invited for an interview and successfully won a sizeable sum from the Start Up Loans initiative. She invested the money in machinery and marketing.
The young entrepreneur’s success is perhaps not surprising considering she started making and selling jewellery at the early age of 7. Since then she has also started a cake pop business, making the sweet treats for events and selling them to local cafes. She continued: “I’d never really thought about enterprise seriously until I started at South Thames College and had amazing teachers that really pushed me. The business plan I made in the classroom is what I’m using for OxyOse at the moment. I’m also part of the enterprise society at college which is a fantastic way to network and build my skills. The staff always let me know about amazing events like the NACUE conference, I really don’t think I would've done it without them.”