Loughborough Alumni


1 Oct 2020

Graduate sports tech start-up completes substantial second investment round in 6 weeks

A Loughborough graduate startup has just closed their second significant investment round after just six weeks, less than five months after raising initial investment. Tzuka, who are designing what is believed to be the world’s most durable sports earbuds, are propelling themselves towards market launch.

Tom Jelliffe (Geography and Management 2017) founded Tzuka following an entrepreneurship module in his final year to realise his goal of engineering earbuds tough enough to survive any sporting environment. Just over two years later, with prototype testing complete, Tom has leveraged the manufacturing design and electronic engineering expertise of The MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) and Newbury Innovation respectively to ensure that the final product is shock-proof, operates underwater, has a built in MP3 player for aquatic sports and is the first in the world with an impact resistance certification.

"Raising investment twice during the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging but through the Loughborough Enterprise Network, I have made invaluable connections to investors including alumni who are opening up some really exciting global opportunities." said Tom. Among Tzuka’s investors are Wilkinson Future and alumnus Steve Churchhouse, who has been an advisor and mentor for a number of Loughborough start-ups over the years.

From the outset Tzuka has been a true Loughborough collaboration with input from the University’s enterprise, engineering and sport communities. Tom was inspired to start up his own business whilst undertaking an enterprise module during his degree, he then took part in a start-up accelerator on the London campus and was supported through graduate business programme of the incubator, The Studio.

"I couldn’t have dreamed of a better launch pad than Loughborough for a sports tech business," said Tom. "I’ve been able to access the world-class facilities and technical support of the Sports Technology Institute, numerous academics and the strength and conditioning facilities have provided a ‘living lab’ of athletes to test and refine the concept."

Tzuka is now based in LU Inc., the University’s business Incubator, which supports graduate businesses, academic spinouts and local innovative start-ups. 

"One of the great advantages of building a business on LUSEP, the University’s Science and Enterprise Park is being able to work with incredibly talented graduates and students. Having previously been supported by Santander Universities to hire student interns, I’m delighted that Industrial Design finalist Jeff Lee has just joined Tzuka to lead our product and creative design," added Tom.

Professor Tracy Bhamra, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise said: "Tzuka is a great example of how Loughborough supports students throughout their entrepreneurial journey to build sustainable businesses. I’m delighted that Tom has raised further investment so quickly and is able to provide job opportunities enabling students to express their creativity and ideas. I wish Tzuka every success for the future."

Find out more about Tzuka, or check out their Instagram.

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