Three friends have been uplifted after winning much needed support to start their own business selling bras which double as handbags.

University of West London students Alleli Liday, 23, Juliet Omo-Olaye, 32, and Rhianna Stevenson, 19, came up with the Handy Bra concept during a second year International Business Management assignment.

Their prototype underwear allows women to store essential items such as money, ID and credit cards and even house keys, inside special zipped compartments of the bra’s cups.

Last night (Thursday) Alleli and Juliet went head-to-head with three other new companies in the final of the Brentford Dragons event run by Brentford Chamber of Commerce at Brentford School For Girls.

Teapigs co-founder Nick Kilby, Brentford FC’s CEO Mark Devlin and RedRoutemaster MD Adam Shailes took on the role of ‘dragons’ - similar to the investors on the BBC TV show Dragons Den - alongside the school’s headteacher Marais Leenders.

Brentford FC CEO Mark Devlin and RedRoutemaster MD Adam Shailes listen to a pitch
 

Together they listened and asked probing questions as the four fledgling businesses attempted to pitch their way to a grand prize of £500 cash, £500 worth of expert market research, and the coveted Brent the dragon trophy.

Handy Bra emerged victorious despite strong competition provided by the other entrants; Student Loop is based at UWL and is well on the way to creating a safe secure new social network to link students at universities across the country, Shake ‘n’ Pop aims to dominate the UK’s £53 million popcorn market while Aviation Shake is already up and running providing training and careers advice to job seekers who want to work in the airport sector.

All four had earned their place in the final after winning one of three heats held over the past year.

The dragons and the audience were all impressed and amused by the Handy Bra with Mr Devlin proclaiming his own daughter was already a fan while Mr Kilby was given the instant answer of ‘Rhianna’ when asked which celebrity the girls would be seeking endorsement from.

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After receiving the prize from the Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Corinna Smart Alleli said: “We’re amazed that we won, we can’t believe it, the other pitches were so strong but obviously we’re thrilled, really thrilled.

“We only won our heat in February and didn’t know when the final would be, so most of the preparation for today had to be done last minute, and as I live in Oxford and Juliet is in Essex, we had to Skype each other instead of discussing ideas in person.”

Juliet added: “The first priority now is to get our website up and running, then start to produce more bras and take them round various companies looking for investment.

“We can’t wait to hear what help and mentoring advice the Chamber will be giving us and if we make a success of this we really will have everything to thank them for.”

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BCC president Suzie Betlem, who has created three successful businesses locally and is working on a fourth, praised the standard of ideas and proclaimed the event to be a massive boost for Brentford.

She said: “We were all so impressed by the creativity on show and I think definitely the right business won.

“We will be delighted to run this event again next year and will be opening it up to Brentford School for Girls who we are very keen to work with in future.

“Of all the parts of Hounslow I genuinely believe Brentford has the most potential to create new businesses and support existing ones.”

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The mayor added: “I saw some fine entrepreneurial skills tonight and it is very exciting to see young people wanting to become successful and I look forward to seeing how all of them develop their businesses.

“I also want one of those dragon statues for myself - it’s smashing!”