Regional talent galore in British Entrepreneur Awards

Photo shows: Recharge Fitness, Gloucester
Recharge Fitness

The shortlist for the Great British Entrepreneurs Awards has been revealed, with entrepreneurs from across the region in contention.

From a home gym equipment supplier, who has seen a big uptick in orders thanks to the wholesale closure of public gyms during lockdown, to home tutoring businesses, an entrepreneur developing the next generation of ultra-high performance optical communication technologies, food and drink entrepreneurs, health and wellbeing experts, there are entrepreneurs in a wide range of sectors and industries represented.

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA) were launched in 2012 to celebrate and champion British entrepreneurs. Earlier this year the Awards programme announced a three-year partnership with Starling Bank, the digital, mobile-only challenger bank which itself was only launched in 2014.

For 2020, the GBEA has shortlisted an epic number of 550 entrepreneurs and 433 businesses across eight regions in 15 categories.

With the year 2020 going down in history as the toughest year ever for  many businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the awards team created the Pivot Entrepreneur of the Year category to recognise entrepreneurs who have adapted their business to ensure it can survive or even thrive during the crisis.

Over the years, the GBEAs have celebrated some household names including James Watt of BrewDog, Alan and Juliet Barrett of the multi million-pound Solihull-based health snack company Grenade, and Shaun Pulfrey of Tangle Teezer – the product which was turned down by the Dragon’s on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s regional finals will be held virtually on 23rd September in one single celebration.

Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Francesca James, said: “So many entrepreneurs will have been fighting to keep their business afloat over the past few months, and indeed will be over the coming months. That’s exactly why we launched the Pivot category; to recognise those that have managed to adapt and thrive throughout this period.

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “These entrepreneurs have gone above and beyond in order to allow their businesses to flourish in extremely difficult times and it is a true honour to congratulate each and every one of them.”

Some of the finalists from across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the Thames Valley include:

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Sarah & Steve Boden, Imagine Theatre, Coventry

Melanie Llewellyn, Love Portraits, Buckinghamshire

FASHION & BEAUTY ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Abi Oyepitan & Liha Okunniwa, Liha Beauty, Cheltenham

FOOD & DRINK ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Tom Noori, Door 4/The Drinks Village, Cheltenham

Miles Duckworth NutcessityMike Duckworth, Nut butter maker Nutcessity, Warwick

Naz Maghounaki, Psoul, Kidlington Oxford

HEALTH & WELLBEING ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Ryan Anthoney, of Gloucester-based leading UK based provider of quality equipment, Recharge Fitness Ltd

Holly Matthews, Holly Matthews ltd, Coventry

Dee Gardner, The Menopause Experts, Worcester

Ayush Sanghavi, AYUSH Apps  Beaconsfield

PIVOT ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Oliver Bruce, EasyBreathing, Cheltenham

SERVICE INDUSTRIES ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Carla Maclean, Carla’s Captivating Content LTD, Gloucester

Paul Hargreaves, Cotswold Fayre Ltd Thame

Rebecca Zhi Herbert, Wisdom Spring Education  Reading

START-UP ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Aaron Stuart-Kelso, Jon Bonnar & Robin Hodge, Cotswold Energy Group, Stroud

Hamish Light, Local e Sourced, Hereford

Dan Sola, Archangel Lightworks  Oxford developing the next generation of ultra-high performance optical communication terminals and technologies.

Ponyo Horsewear, Georgia Bellis-JonesGeorgia Bellis-Jones, Ponyo Horsewear, Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire. The company specialises in high quality products for horses. Georgia said: After countless challenges in our first six months since launch, including a global pandemic, it feels amazing to be recognised for our progress and makes it all worthwhile. Launching the brand was a big risk, as I wasnt sure how the products would be received – they are unlike any other rugs currently available – and it was a huge up-front investment. Fortunately its all gone better than I could have hoped for and we have some amazingly loyal and supportive customers, not only in the UK but all around the world.”

Ponyo specialises in high quality, uniquely patterned turnout rugs, and has plans to expand its range later this year. Patterned rugs already existed in the market, but were seen as fun yet faddy products, made with poor quality fabric which would not last the test of time. Georgia Bellis-Jones, founder of Ponyo Horsewear, was determined to fill the hole in the market.

ENTREPRENEUR FOR GOOD AWARD

Kristina Salceanu, Advent of Change, Stratford upon Avon. Advent For Change is an innovative charity advent calendar that invites people to give, rather than receive, over the festive season.

Jemma Smith, The Education Hotel  Oxford, a tutoring service offering premium tuition to children of all ages and nationalities

SupersocksYOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Charlie Rodman | Super Socks, Solihull

DISRUPTOR OF THE YEAR

Joana Paiva, Luis Valente, Mehak Mumtaz & Paula Sampaio, iLoF – Intelligent Lab on Fiber Ltd , Oxford, an intelligent platform for precise, patient-centric drug development.

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AWARD

James Augustin, CORONAUNITY LIMITED CIC, Marlow Bucks. A student-led non-profit organisation which aims to create projects that tackle the effects of Covid-19 on society. Founded in March this year and now expanding across the world.

Kat McFarlane, Virtual Craft Fair, High Wycombe. During lockdown, many felt it important to support local businesses to help them survive these challenging times. This inspired entrepreneur, Kat McFarlane, to create Virtual Craft Fair in March to help these types of businesses. Unlike other platforms, any contact or sales via the Virtual Craft Fair app go directly to the crafter which allows them to maximise their profit.

Kat, 34, said; ” Virtual Craft Fair started as a Facebook group at the start of lockdown. This was triggered by my desire to try and help the thousands of crafters who were losing a big chunk of income with craft fairs and non-essential shops closing. The Facebook group was great at bringing crafters together but lacking the real ability to showcase their makes effectively and giving consumers an easy way to shop. So, I went looking for an answer…”