Women scoop top prize in AXA’s annual startup business contest

25 August 2023

Posted in Partnerships

  • Clothes designer and app creator scoop top prizes
  • Fashion student inspired by grandfather to design outfits for people with disabilities
  • Cambridge graduate plans to harness power of community to help Black women achieve their potential

A designer who makes clothes adapted for people with disabilities and the creator of a community-building app for Black women have each scooped top prize of £25,000 in an annual competition for startup businesses.

Twenty-one-year-old Hanan Tantush, who launched clothing brand Intotum while studying at the London College of Fashion, and Olivia Hylton (26), who aims to create equal outcomes for Black women, beat dozens of other businesses in the 2023 AXA Startup Angel competition.

The contest, now in its third year, offers the £25,000 investment plus business insurance for a year from AXA and mentoring from the AXA Startup Angels – Stack World CEO Sharmadean Reid MBE, UK Black Business Week founder Raphael Sofoluke and Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, creators of vegan food brand BOSH!

Hanan was inspired to launch her business after her grandfather struggled to find comfortable clothing to wear after being fitted with a stoma during cancer treatment. With 22% of the UK population suffering some kind of disability, she realised there was huge potential for a range of specially adapted outfits.

Cambridge graduate Olivia founded Sistren to harness the power of community to help Black women achieve their potential, creating an app that went vital on TikTok and has amassed 2,900 users in 32 countries in just three months.

This year’s entrants were so impressive and diverse that it made judging really tough but Hanan and Olivia really shone through. We’re committed to helping new businesses gain a foothold so they can develop and flourish. The £25k prize money provides an essential early initial cash injection while mentorship from our AXA Startup Angels helps steer them on the right path.

Julie White, Head of Marketing at AXA UK
Julie White, Head of Marketing, at the AXA Startup Angel competition awards ceremony 2023