Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine (Spring 2020)

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Spring 2020

Celia Hodson : Changing the face of periods, period.

MINI The Electric Switch SURVIVING BREXIT How small firms can #GetBrexitReady





Founder of Mr. Lees Noodles denies illness for market domination

Top 15 social enterprises to watch in 2020




who we are

The Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine is published by the organisers of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, which celebrates the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in the UK. We celebrate the incredible stories of entrepreneurs, regardless of size or turnover. After an exciting 2019 in which we expanded into three new regions, we also saw a brand new format brought to the regional finals. Central to the ethos of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is being more than just ‘an awards ceremony’ - it’s a sense of community, a thriving ecosystem of support all year round, providing opportunities for winners and finalists to connect and showcase their business. The Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine brings those incredible stories together in one place, helping to shine a spotlight on some of the biggest issues and trends facing entrepreneurs in the UK today. 2019 saw a wave of success for socially-conscious entrepreneurs right

across the regions, with Celia Hodson, the founder of Hey Girls, being named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the National Final. With that in mind, it was only natural to focus this issue on the entrepreneurs whose mission it is to help others, not make massive profits. In this issue, we explore the incredibly inspiring story that took Celia from being a single mother on benefits to Great British Entrepreneur of the Year. We also speak to some of 2019’s big winners, including the founders of Able Move, Madlug and Mr Lee’s Noodles. And we learn why one entrepreneur closed their business for Black Friday. We introduce Starling Bank as headline sponsor, and why we’re so thrilled to be working with them. We speak to our long-term partners MINI to see how big companies are doing their bit to tackle climate change. And we also learn more about what Lego is doing to help the next generation of learning through play businesses. And, of course, there’s plenty more from the GBEA community. We hope you enjoy reading!

EDITORIAL TEAM Hannah Richards Editor, Design & Writer

Jonathan Davies Sub-Editor & Writer

Adam Stacey Awards & Project Manager

Chloe Johnson Community Exec


Printed on recycled paper by

Mac Smith Video & Content Exec


* Front cover artwork by Claire Greives, @topicalparadise




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Words from the Founder

Ask the Experts

Bank for SMEs

Words from Starling Bank

Changing the Face of Periods

The Electric Switch

Too Busy For Cancer

Things you should Never Say

Prepare for Brexit

A Global Mindset

Blacklist Black Friday

Reaching for the Starlings

Community News

COVER Hey Girls is our Charity Partner for 2020: “At Hey Girls we know that you girls and young women are all powerful individuals, care about your health, are passionate about the environment and want to make a difference. That’s why we created Hey Girls – to offer you a no leak, super comfy, chlorine and bleach free, environmentally friendly product that tackles period poverty in the UK. How? Well that’s simple – all the profits from our ‘buy one give one’ products go directly to help girls and young women in need – no fat cat shareholders taking a payout. So that means for every box you buy we give a box away - yep just that straightforward.”


FRANCESCA JAMES FOUNDER OF GREAT BRITISH ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS As we move into our eighth year of celebrating the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs in the UK, I am delighted to start 2020 by introducing to you our new headline sponsor, Starling Bank. Starling Bank joins us on our mission in a threeyear partnership. For us, it’s incredibly exciting to have such a committed partner with a real entrepreneurial story behind it. Starling’s founder and CEO, Anne Boden MBE, is someone who saw so many problems with traditional banking and decided to do something about it, disrupting an entire industry in the process. We were early adopters of Starling’s business account, long before we’d even entered into discussions over this partnership. It’s plainly simple to see why it was voted Best British Bank two years running. We know first hand the benefits Starling’s digital, mobile-first banking experience gives us as a business. Anne Boden joins us as chair of the judging panel, and

I’m honoured to work alongside her and her team to champion and support the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well in the UK. 2019 was a magnificent year for us at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Not only did we expand our regional reach, we also took a big risk in overhauling the format of our regional finals. We ditched the traditional, but tired, black tie dinner format for something more laid back, more engaging and more accessible. Much more entrepreneurial. For the second year in a row, we received over 3,000 entries and, as always, the quality blew us away. It was also a particularly successful year for sociallyminded entrepreneurs. Across our eight regions, four of the overall winners are founders of social enterprises or sociallydriven businesses. Our Entrepreneur for Good category has gone from strength to strength since we introduced it in 2017 and it was a fantastic moment to see Celia Hodson on

stage as our national Great British Entrepreneur of the Year for 2019. You can read all about Celia’s story in our main feature on page 14, along with a host of entrepreneurs who are putting people and the planet before their profits. 2019 was also a fantastic year for the UK’s start-up and tech scenes. The latest report from Centre for Entrepreneurs found that five new tech start-ups were created every hour as business formations reached a record high. With a 2.8% increase on 2018, there were a whopping 681,704 new businesses in the UK last year, ranging from 14,363 new takeaway food stores to 10 new llama and alpaca farms. In such politically turbulent and uncertain times, I can’t help but feel that this is a magnificent achievement and shows the resilience and ambition of this country’s entrepreneurs. 2020 promises to be a wonderfully exciting year, both for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in partnership with Starling Bank, and for entrepreneurship as a whole.



NEWS With four different account types – personal, business, joint and euro – Starling’s world-class tech reimagines banking for life today, putting the tools you need to feel good about money in the palm of your hand – and if you’re a business customer, on your desktop.

They’ve since surpassed one million accounts, raised £263 million in backing and opened several new offices around the UK. You can still find their HQ in London, but they’ve also set up shop in Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin – and have their eyes set on Europe soon.

Voted Britain’s Best Business Banking Provider in 2019

Just like the bird, Starling is adaptable, friendly and supportive. They’ve been voted Best British Bank two years on the trot as well as 2019’s Best Business Banking Provider.

Maybe you’re a sole trader or an entrepreneur with links in Europe. Perhaps you’re a limited company or a multi-director company. Whatever your business life looks like, there’s a strong chance Starling has designed a bank account with someone just like you in mind. Need a little help with overheads? Applying for a flexible overdraft couldn’t be easier with Starling. Use their in-app slider to adjust how much you need and see how much it’ll cost you (spoiler: it’s cheaper than most high-street banks). Or, if you deal regularly with euros, then Starling’s euro business bank account could be a great shout. Apply via the Starling app and for just £2 a month, you’ll be able to hold, send and receive euro payments.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Download the app and apply for an account in minutes.

AWARD WINNING FEATURES All of Starling’s business bank accounts come with: • • • •

No monthly fees and no fees overseas Instant payment alerts Time-saving tools, such as spending insights Seamless integrations with the likes of QuickBooks, Xero and FreeAgent • Cash deposits at the Post Office • Easy switching – move all your banking over seamlessly with the Current Account Switch Service

Officially ‘excellent’ Starling is a digital-first bank, granted – but it’s not all about tech. Behind the features and widgets, there’s a dedicated team of customer service agents, on hand whenever you need them. That’s why Starling Bank is rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot. Customers also benefit from protection on their deposits of up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Starling’s story Starling was founded in 2014 by industry-leading banker Anne Boden, who recognised how technology could transform the way people manage their money and serve customers in a way that traditional banks hadn’t.



ANNE BODEN MBE FOUNDER OF STARLING BANK With a million-plus accounts and rising, it’s still hard to believe that Starling Bank was a pretty much unknown start-up less than three years ago. Our first service, a mobile-only current account, only became widely available in May 2017, and it wasn’t until a year later that we launched our business account. While Starling has been on an accelerated and exhilarating journey, we are still acutely aware of the challenges that face SMEs. Just like any innovator, we faced numerous challenges along the way, from investor scepticism, to regulatory hurdles, to finding and motivating a talented team to bring alive the idea of a new digital bank. In the past two years, since launching Starling’s business account, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many hundreds of interesting and innovative UK SMEs on their own entrepreneurial journeys. These businesses all play such a vital role in supporting the country’s economic health and long-term prosperity and the sheer range and creativity of

them is endlessly impressive. It’s the reason why Starling is proud to sponsor GBEA, which is helping to unlock more of the entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined this country. While everyone’s entrepreneurial journey is, of course, different, I have noticed many similarities amongst us. One of the most important of these is a burning passion to make a difference in some way, to whatever industry you’re in. In my own case, after more than 30-years working in senior roles in so-called traditional banking, I came to the conclusion that banking was broken. It wasn’t working in the best interest of customers. My vision was to create a digital bank that helped people by making everything about money completely transparent. It led to the creation of an easyto-use app, updated in real time, where everyone knows what they have, what they’ve spent and where, and how much, they have spare at any given moment. Another challenge facing all entrepreneurs is time. Or should

that be a lack of it? We all need to be multi-taskers too. In the very earliest days of Starling when I was still working out of a café in the Marylebone Road, I found myself doing everything, whether it was preparing pitches for investors, or recruiting new people, writing presentations, or buying kit. I even wrote the first version of Starling’s website on WordPress. It was a juggle at the time, but there’s no better way to get to know absolutely everything about what makes a business tick. As we’ve grown, I’m still a multitasker, although the tasks have changed and we’ve now got four different offices in London, Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin. I’ve also learned a lot of tricks to manage my time. High among them is to use technology wherever I can. There’s hundreds of apps available today for SMEs. It’s still tough to take the entrepreneurial route, but with new technological innovations every day making things easier, I’m convinced that we’re entering into a golden age for business. It is great to be a part of it.



HOW TO WRITE AN AWARD WINNING APPLICATION... Where do you start with an awards application? And, what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack? We asked some of our judges what they look for in Great British Entrepreneur Awards submissions, and how you can catch their eye in 2020.

engaged and motivated workforce, it is unlikely to succeed. To add to this, whether you’re selling to other businesses or to consumers, putting customers at the heart of all you do is critical for success. Therefore, I’m looking for businesses that are also strongly focused on customer centricity. I’m looking for entrepreneurs and businesses who can demonstrate that they clearly know how to sell and make a profit. As the saying goes, ‘turnover for vanity, profit for sanity’. While the entrants will be on a journey, and many won’t be mature enough yet to demonstrate profitability, I need to believe they have a plan of how to get there. Otherwise, they might end up with the best idea since sliced bread, but if it doesn’t make money, it’s not going to survive! Last but not least, I’m looking for resilience in the entrepreneur. There will be many occasions when an entrepreneur feels like giving up or questions whether or not they’re capable of getting there successfully. If in doubt, read ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and his story of how he overcame many roadblocks and barriers along the way.

Martin Newman The Consumer Champion Judge 2019, 2020 When judging for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, I’m looking for businesses that can demonstrate a clear vision for who they are, why they’re different to anyone else in the space they’re operating, where they’re going and how best they’re going to get there. The idea in itself is obviously hugely important, but it’s being able to demonstrate how they’ve executed it that counts. I’m also looking for businesses that are defendable and have created clear points of difference, as these along with the tenacity of the founder and leadership team are what will help sustain the business over the long-term. I’m looking for a business with a great culture, one that recognises the importance of putting its people first. People are at the heart of any business and no matter how good an idea is, without an


Jo Dalton JD&Co Judge 2016 to 2020 Having been a judge for the past four years, what has impressed me most is the high standard, pedigree and sheer quality of applications that continue to improve each year. This is really encouraging and means the bar is incredibly high, one to top if you are considering applying this year. I would advise people to focus on the problem they are trying to solve. For me, it has to have an impact beyond the financial one; how does it help

FEATURE society, what value does it bring to the consumer and what are its sustainability credentials? Showing diversity of thought amongst the key team, moving away from as many of the outdated stereotypes as possible, gets an extra tick in the box. As a selfconfessed geek and immersed in the high-growth disruptive tech space, I like seeing innovative, new technology that is helping to make our lives easier, safer or save us precious time. I love to read about the key talent in the business, the culture and find out about how they have created a really engaged and diverse workforce. Finally, for me, as an angel investor having a personal passion around the circular economy, it’s great to see how people are attempting to make more out of the resources we already have on the planet and move away from the disposable, fast fashion and plastic nation we have been of old. I am so excited to see and read about all of the new businesses who apply this year and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurship in the UK.

Team GBEA’s Top Tips • Sell yourself • Take advantage of your photo and supporting documents • Read category requirements prior to starting an application • Don’t repeat yourself • Take your time, it doesn’t have to be done in one sitting • Copy and paste, you may be better suited to other categories • Write in the first person • Inject your personality • Be concise, get your point across • Tell us about the ups and downs • Don’t leave it until last minute • Proofread • Write in Word and have a back up, just in case

Evadney Campbell MBE Shiloh PR Judge 2017 to 2020 As a GBEA judge, I’m always inspired by the entrepreneurs’ personal stories - what drove them to set up their business and what challenges they have faced in order to do so. Once they’ve explained these key issues, I want to know how they’ve solved these challenges. I like to know what their vision for the future is, but possibly more importantly, I want to be convinced that, whilst these dreams and visions may be ambitious, they are plausible. I’ve become more and more aware of how very important these awards are. For all the businesses which have been shortlisted, and particularly for those who’ve gone on to win, the community offers an opportunity to make valuable connections and a platform from which they can parachute their business to the next level. At Shiloh PR, we frequently encourage our clients, whether through our many training workshops, or those we represent for public relations campaigns, to put themselves forward for awards. One of the most important questions is, how credible is that award? Being a winner or finalist of GBEA is one of those honours worth having. It’s an award which carries immense credibility across the country. We believe it’s one of those awards any business can truly capitalise on for their future growth and potential success. I’m truly looking forward to being a judge for 2020. As the owner of a SME, I too learn so much from many of the applications I come across. I would urge anyone thinking of applying to go ahead and do so. For more information on how to apply visit:


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e e r h T

Things that motivate me as an entrepreneur social entrepreneurs are at the heart of charitable giving in great britain. these are The people who wake up in the morning with a burning desire to help others and the environment, selflessy donating time, money and products to those who are in need of help. but how do they do what they do? We asked three of our incredible social entrepreneurs what motivates them and their team every day...

do better for people and planet SOPHIE RAE, RIPPLE “I’m motivated by the call-to-action from my environment; showing up for business with a mindset to do better for people and planet. Watching our community thrive helps to remind me that there is always a need for conscious business. Above the white noise of mass consumerism, there is a hopeful demographic of consumers who are eager to make their daily habits mean more and do more.

PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THEY’RE LOVED DAVE LINTON, MADLUG A couple of years ago I received a handwritten letter from a care experienced young person and she wrote, “I think sometimes people forget

Kindness breeds kindness, but first it has to be seen and felt. Putting out work into the world

that every human being is deserving and should

that aims to do good, is a powerful motivator. It means that every tricky decision I have

know that being so lost in the care system, I have

to make - over what is easy and what is right - adds to a foundation that is built stronger by the community who see ripple’s work and pledge to make a change. I can’t think of a more empowering way to do business.”

be shown love, compassion, and are valued. I often struggled to feel this way about myself. I wanted to thank you all for not only reminding me of this reality, but for truly making me feel it, for extending the arm of solidarity and for doing the amazing work that you are doing.” This motivated me to keep going and continues to motivate me today because there are many more

be a game changer

children and young people in care that need to know that they are loved.

JULIE ANNE PARKER million stars Having worked in social housing in Knowsley, one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK, I had witnessed every type of poverty and hardship imaginable. When I witnessed bulldozer-made mountains of clothing, food, toiletries and camping gear destined for landfill at V festival, I knew that I had to be a game changer in an industry that had largely remained inaccessible and resistant. Abandoning festival equipment has been ‘the norm’ for 30 years. By raising awareness of the environmental and social impact the legacy of Million Stars will make this practice unacceptable. I am determined to change both festival attendees and organisers behaviour to make sustainability a must throughout the events industry.

As Premium Partner to the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Three is supporting small business and start-up entrepreneurs with their first dedicated business offering, Three Means Business. Find out more about Three’s exclusive package of benefits that give you the expertise you need, no matter what you’re creating. Visit:

The Social Series by Jonathan Davies


Changing the Face of Periods. Period.


“The 2019 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year is… Celia Hodson!” She stands, hands covering her gasping mouth. She makes her way through the room, flanked by applause and cheers, raising her hands in a noticeably humble celebration. Making it to the stage to collect the award, her silver sequin jacket glistens in the spotlight. In a room full of tuxedos and ball gowns worn by entrepreneurs making often vast amounts of money, it was a surreal moment for social entrepreneur Celia Hodson; a far cry from the life she left behind, sparking a journey that led her to create Hey Girls and become the 2019 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Hey Girls is a social enterprise which offers environmentally friendly and biodegradable period products. Using the ‘buy one give one’ model, Hey Girls’ mission is to eradicate period poverty in the UK, and since launching early in 2018, along with its customers, has donated more than seven million period products. “I remember standing in the queue at the supermarket - they told me my shopping came to £14.33. I looked in my purse and counted up just over £12. I had to put the tampons back. I had to feed my family.” Before being named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the National Final, Celia won the same award at the Scottish regional final. “I was completely overwhelmed when I won in Scotland,” Celia beams. “Scotland is quite a small place so I knew a lot of the entrepreneurs in the room, and I admire a lot of them greatly. I just thought ‘look at these people, there’s no way I will even get close’. I was speechless and a bit wobbly-legged. “Going to London for the National Final, I didn’t expect to win again. I had incredible people on my table and I looked around the room and thought ‘how amazing are all of these people?!’ Then to have my name called out was just so surreal and amazing.” She adds: “Our profile has just gone through the roof after winning. It’s definitely raised the profile of both Hey Girls across the UK, and for me as the founder. It makes a huge difference, drives sales, and makes the team feel fabulous. It’s just really great.” ‘I couldn’t park the idea’ By the time Celia was a single mother of three - the youngest of which was just a few months old - she was no stranger to a tough life. Although growing up in the Lake District, swimming in the lakes and walking the surrounding hills might sound idyllic, Celia admits it was far from perfect. A brutally strict father whose job in construction didn’t bring in a steady income left her mother forced to shield Celia and her sister from the harsh realities of their lives. Luckily, she was able to draw influence and inspiration from her grandparents, who she recalls were once described as “the next best thing from an angel” by someone in the village. “My grandmother was very caring and a pillar of the community,” Celia says. “She’d help everybody and share what she had.”


It’s easy to see where Celia got her desire to help people. Long before launching Hey Girls, she developed a career providing support to social enterprises through business planning, leadership advice and building networks.

“It’s definitely raised the profile of both Hey Girls across the UK, and for me as the founder. It makes a huge difference, drives sales, makes the team feel fabulous. It’s just really amazing.” “It was never an aspiration to run my own business or social enterprise,” she says. “I just sort of fell into it. And I didn’t fall into it until later in life. I’m nearly 60, so to start a social enterprise when you’re not far from thinking about retiring seems an unusual thing to do.”


Once the idea of Hey Girls came to Celia, that was it. “Some people get an idea and think ‘maybe’, but park it for a while. I couldn’t shut down the idea for Hey Girls. I couldn’t park the idea of eradicating period poverty.” Since then, it has been a whirlwind journey for Celia. She spoke about the idea with her children and explains how they got carried away quite quickly. In no time at all, Celia was hosting focus groups, talking to women about the perception of periods and the quality of period products already on the market. “Our community was the lead in steering Hey Girls and how it was built,” Celia says. “Once we got going, I realised that in order to create what the community wanted, we had to use the ‘buy one give one’ model.” Living out of jam jars Celia’s three children were all under the age of eight when she became a single mother. It prompted a very

sudden and very significant change to all of their lives. And one which she had resigned herself to. “I had to figure out how I was going to cope, what that looked like, what it looked like for me and what it meant for the family,” Celia explains. “It was really tough, really really tough. I didn’t have any savings. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have furniture. I thought ‘this is it now, this is my life’. “The money I got barely covered any sort of existence. When you get a bill in, you just don’t have any money for anything else. It was shocking. You get creative and resourceful but it was a massive shock for the children too.” She adds: “You feel fragile, like you have a complete lack of independence. You can’t access [period products] when you’ve got virtually no money and are forced to make decisions about what to buy.” Celia wanted to balance protecting her children from understanding exactly how tough life was for them and teaching them to understand their situation and the value of money. She used jam jars for each outgoing. One for food, one for electricity and one for school things. Every week, Celia would collect her benefits from the Post Office and split it between each of the jars. “The kids could see exactly how much we had, and we’d make decisions together. If one of them needed something for school, we knew we would be eating beans on toast for the next week. “That helped them understand. It was there for them to see that we didn’t have money. Sometimes it would just be a few coins in a jar. It wasn’t easy and it’s not easy for families now. That was the main driver for Hey Girls. I didn’t want anyone to go without period products because they couldn’t afford it.”

was a lot she didn’t know about running a business, she sought advice, knowledge and experience, and immediately found herself immersed in comments of support and nuggets of wisdom. “People were very generous with their years and years of experience. We pulled in a lot of support on everything from managing contracts with supermarkets to looking at the business plan and finances.” So many start-ups are able to start very small. That wasn’t the case for Hey Girls, however. It couldn’t start with 20 packs at the local market on a Saturday, and 30 packs the next weekend. “The community wanted beautifully made, biodegradable and sustainable products. We couldn’t white label something, we needed it manufactured specifically for us. When you do that, you realise you’re having to buy a container load of products, not just a few cartons,” Celia recalls. “It was always going to have to be us selling pallet loads of products because that’s how we had to buy them. We had to work out if there was a market opportunity to sell them in bulk volumes quickly. Thankfully, there was and that’s growing now.” The website launched in January 2018, and by August, Hey Girls’ products could be found on the shelves on Asda and Waitrose. In just eight months, it had gone from selling a few hundred pounds worth online to doing tens of thousands worth, with pallets of products going to supermarkets across the country. Growing, growing...gone? Listening to Celia talk so openly and passionately makes you wonder why no one has ever done this before. She admits looking at the big corporates

Beautifully-made, sustainable, biodegradable Having moved to Scotland and settled happily in the seaside town of Dunbar outside of Edinburgh, with some savings, a personal loan and a few small grants to fund the launch, Hey Girls became a fullyfledged Community Interest Company (CIC). Celia quickly learned just how much support she would need from those around her to make it a success. She spoke morning and evening with her youngest, Kate, about the next steps, while elder daughter, Becky, was on hand to advise from Sydney. But it wasn’t just her closest family that helped. Celia is an enormous advocate of the power of LinkedIn and using networks. Admitting there


and thinking that they could eradicate period poverty in one weekend if they weren’t so focused on shareholder value. After securing contracts with supermarkets, Hey Girls turned its attention elsewhere. The supermarket shelves were an incredible step, especially at such an early stage, but Hey Girls needed to expand its focus to other areas if it was to really make a meaningful impact. It wasn’t long before Celia and her team secured contracts with the Scottish government to supply products to all local authority schools in Scotland. Now, it’s securing tenders with local governments in England and Wales. “The really exciting thing is that we’re working with businesses now,” Celia says. “There’s been a shift around corporates and their attitude to periods. They’re realising that they provide soap and paper towels, but aren’t giving free menstrual products. If a woman gets caught short at the office, the chances are she’ll go home. They’re seeing that it doesn’t cost much to put a few little baskets of products in the bathrooms.” Law firms, banks, retailers and bars are all signing up to supply free period products to staff. In fact, BrewDog, which was founded by 2014 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year James Watt, has committed to providing free Hey Girls products in all of its bars across the UK. Working alongside Celia’s daughter Kate, each business matches with a local donation partner, adding to the 200 Hey Girls already works with right across the UK, from the Orkney islands to Guernsey. No matter how much Hey Girls grows, however,


the long-term goal remains the same for Celia. And it’s quite a peculiar one. “For Hey Girls to close down is the ultimate goal. We were set up to eradicate period poverty and so we work towards that and hopefully people won’t need donated products in the not-to-distant future. “Right now, we’re in a good place and it’s growing really quickly, but we’re trying to do ourselves out of jobs.” Breaking down the shame Picking out your biggest achievement is so often a conundrum for many entrepreneurs, while others can simply pick out the one thing that makes them most proud. Celia is someone who struggles to pick one out, especially after such a magnificent couple of years. A huge sense of achievement comes from her efforts to make an impact away from the products. And it’s something that is catching plenty of attention. She explains: “It’s not just about giving products away. A lot of people don’t know what periods are. “Children might get 15 minutes education here and there, but they need ongoing conversations about menstruation so that there isn’t a stigma and taboo around periods.” Hey Girls runs education sessions for anyone that receives its products, whether it’s donation partners, schools or community groups. Importantly, they’re run for boys and girls, men and women. “It’s so important to get young men to understand menstruation. It helps to breakdown the shame women face.” Last year, Hey Girls launched the ‘Pads4Dads’ campaign, fronted by actor and activist Michael

Sheen, centred around getting more men to understand periods. A father to two girls himself, Sheen said “it can be hard to start the conversation.”

“They need ongoing conversations about menstruation so that there isn’t a stigma and taboo around periods.” Explaining the campaign, Celia says: “Whether they’re single dads or dads who are at home while mum is at work, when their daughter starts their period, they need to be prepared and understand menstruation. “We had men telling us they were ashamed that they didn’t know anything about periods. But we also had dads of young girls saying they wanted to prepare now in order to have that conversation when their daughters have their first periods.” Despite her pride in helping to educate more people about periods, Celia believes that no achievement is bigger than another. Each achievement is significant in itself, and contributes to the main goal. “Not long ago,” Celia starts, “a lady in her 70s or 80s stopped me in the street and gave me a little envelope containing £5. She said it was the winnings from her bowls season and she’d been carrying it around with her, hoping to bump into me in our little town. That was a beautiful thing that makes you realise the impact you’re having.” She goes on: “Of course, it’s amazing going into a supermarket and seeing your products on the shelves. It’s even better when you stand there for a minute or two and someone comes along and buys one! “Creating jobs has given me a huge sense of achievement, as well. We’ve created jobs for parents, giving them the flexibility to work around their lives. They can drop the kids off at school and leave again in time to pick them up, without a drop in pay. They’re a really happy group of people because it’s so hard to find jobs that fit around children. “I’m also really proud that Hey Girls has been built by a community. A group of around 50 people gave up a little bit of their time or knowledge to help us. Everything about us is all created in the community, which gives you a very warm feeling. I’m not Hey Girls. Our community is Hey Girls, the team is Hey Girls, and our supporters are Hey Girls.” What Inspires you most as a social entrepreneur? Like most social entrepreneurs, I set up Hey Girls to make a social Impact - for us, that’s ensuring no one has to go without period products. So every day I ask myself ‘how will my actions help Hey Girls to donate products to those who need them?’ Keeping that front of mind is a compelling call to action for me and it certainly gives me a strong focus to drive our enterprise’s growth. For more information about Hey Girls or to find out more about supplying Hey Girls products in your office visit


• Diagnosed with dyslexia later in life, Celia struggled academically at school but flourished in the arts and sports • While living in Australia, Celia worked for the School of Social Entrepreneurs, where she remains an international board member • Celia’s son Chris works for UnLtd, a group providing support and funding to social entrepreneurs • Before making the shortlist in 2019, Hey Girls started working with fellow alumni business BrewDog to supply staff and customers with free period products • Celia was the subject of a motion in Holyrood to congratulate her on her success at the Scottish regional final 19

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on a household name in entrepreneurship, addressing gaps for the entrepreneur, from accessing finance building their leadership capacity. Each Rock Star shares their story providing insight into the highs and lows of their business journey, culminating in their success. AT IT’S HEART, the Home Grown community will support entrepreneurs and investors on their journey and enable connections across all sectors and disciplines in the beautiful surrounding of a private members’ club.

in f o@homegrowncl or 0 2 0 392 88000

H o m e G r o w n | 4 4 G r e a t C u m b e r l a n d P l a c e | W 1H 7B S L o n d o n

The Social Series

DAVE LINTON - MADLUG Dave Linton is the founder of Madlug, a bag brand created to give every single child in care the dignity they deserve. For every bag Madlug sells, Dave and his small team donates one to a child who has been given an unfair start in life, who moves between care homes and foster homes, carrying all of their belongings in a bin bag. They believe every child is incredible. Dave’s entrepreneurial story earned him the Entrepreneur for Good Award and Great British Entrepreneur of the Year title at the Northern Ireland regional final in October, before he went on to win the Entrepreneur for Good Award on the national level in November. “I’d never won anything before launching Madlug,” Dave begins. “So to win awards is always a huge shock to me. I don’t live my life with that kind of expectation. “The risk with winning lots of awards is that you can become the hero in the story. And that’s not what we want for Madlug. We call our customers heroes because they are the solution to the problem. ‘I’m going to fix that problem’ Admitting he always had a thirst for helping people as he grew up in Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland, Dave became a youth worker at 18. He dedicated his career to helping young people until he was 42. He never considered the prospect of a

different career, let alone starting a business. Dave’s initial idea was to collect second-hand bags and donate them to the local authority. But further research made him realise that wouldn’t be enough. There are nearly 90,000 children in care in the UK and Republic of Ireland. His next thought came to setting up a charity to do it on a bigger scale, but thought the environment wasn’t right for it. Then he remembered reading about the ‘buy one give one’ business model. “I thought it would be difficult for me to set up a traditional business. If I started a coffee shop, I’d always be giving away too many free drinks and be broke. I wondered if I could apply the ‘buy one give one’ model to this problem of children in care using bin bags.” Cutting through the noise Tough and lonely at first, he just needed to get the first order in and use the money to buy more products. Any sales were reinvested in new stock. It really was a traditional bootstrapped business at the start. With bags such a significant aspect of the fashion industry now, Dave was entering a very crowded market with next to no budget. He explains: “We have quality bags and an identifiable brand, but the story is key and actually quite innovative in the marketing of this type of product. There’s so many bag companies out there, they just don’t have those engaging stories.


“For our customers, homelessness is a physical problem - they can see it walking down the high street. Children in care are invisible, it’s not something you see in your day-to-day. We need to introduce the problem to people before we can fix the problem.” Taking advantage Shortly after launching in 2016, Dave was listed on The Observer’s New Radicals list, a collection of the top 50 individuals who are actively changing their communities for the better. It took Madlug from a few hundred pounds worth of bags a month to passing £1,000 for the first time, and led to greater support from accelerator programmes. While that was influential, it can’t compare to the second major milestone. Despite failing to make it to the final of Virgin’s Voom competition, Dave was determined to create his own opportunities and take full advantage. “I decided to go anyway and learn from the finalists for next time,” he explains. “I’m a learner, so I’ll always take any opportunity to learn and improve.” Between the finalists’ pitches, he attended a few small talks taking place around the venue, one of which was by Crowdfunder. Although he’d always been reluctant towards crowdfunding because of the time he’d have to dedicate to it, Dave put his name down for the sake of it. While on a well-earned holiday a few weeks later, where Dave promised his wife he would switch off from work, he received an email from Voom titled ‘Chance to get back in the game! Win £1,000 and brunch with Branson.’ Dave says: “I only had five days to put this whole crowdfunding campaign together, which isn’t a lot of time at all when you’re dyslexic. I didn’t have anything prepared, no big investors lined-up to kick things off. I really started it with nothing.” Targeting £10,000, Madlug raised £7,500 with five minutes remaining in the initial 72 hour window, around £5,000 more than any of the other finalists. Dave was pipped at the final hurdle by two businesses and he eventually finished third in the 72 hours. The winner, for some strange reason, decided not to raise a single penny more for the rest of the campaign. And the runner-up didn’t reach their target over the four weeks. “We carried on the campaign and ended up raising £24,500. I won the brunch with Richard Branson. That was incredible, but more than that, we had a new crowd of people interested in the brand and what we were doing.” While the Virgin founder is right up there in terms of entrepreneurial influencers, it was a much smaller influencer that had a huge impact on the business in Madlug’s third year. “One of our customers read a blog by Part-Time Working Mummy (Rachaele Hambleton), who talked about being raised in care and carrying her belongings in a black bin bag.” A month later, the best-selling author posted to Facebook and Instagram about her story and Madlug. “Within 10 hours we sold out of every single product,” Dave says. “We restocked a few days later and sold out again in 10 hours.”


Scratching the surface Madlug has achieved a lot in its relatively short history. But the mission is far from complete. And Dave has ambitious plans for the future of the business. “There’s over 30,000 new kids in care every year in the UK, so my dream for the next few years is getting to a place where we can supply 30,000 bags to the new children entering care that year. “I also want to move into the space of creating job opportunities for care-experienced young people. Not a course they have to attend in order to get benefits or something like that, a course they want to be on. We can be more than just a manufacturer. I really believe we’re only starting to scratch the surface. “We want to be a lead voice that champions children, not just giving them a bag, but by treating them as we value them. These children have huge value and worth.”

DID YOU KNOW... • Dave started Madlug with just £480 • Although an advisor liked the idea, Dave was advised not to start Madlug in Northern Ireland • Dave was inspired by a quote from Blake Mycoskie, the creator of the ‘buy one give one’ concept • Dave designed the first Madlug logo himself • Dave was named on The Observer’s New Radicals list in 2016

The Social Series

JOSH WINTERSGILL - ABLE MOVE “The staff lifted the sling and I slipped straight through it. They ended up having to lift me under my arms and legs,” Josh Wintersgill says as he recalls his first time boarding a plane using a sling not built for purpose. Inspired by his own experiences, Josh is the founder of Able Move, which produces the easyTravelseat to allow wheelchair users to board and leave airplanes safely with dignity. In 2019, he was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Great British Entrepreneur of the Year for the South West before going on to win Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the National Final in November. Diagnosed with the muscle wastage condition spinal muscular atrophy when he was 18 months old, Josh has been bound to an electric wheelchair since he was 12. An avid holidaymaker, Josh’s father and grandmother were capable of lifting him comfortably prior to an operation to correct 90% curvature of his spine, but it quickly became difficult and painful. On the next flight following the operation, they attempted to use the sling designed to transfer Josh from his chair to his bed. But it was made to be lifted by heavy machinery, not humans. It didn’t work, and for the first time Josh had no option but to be lifted under his arms and legs.


“It really hurt,” he remembers. “It never really dawned on me at the time, that these are the types of issues that people like me face. When you're young, you just assume it's the norm.” ‘Not looked back since’ It was eight years later in the summer of 2017, sat by the pool in Mar y Sol - a popular destination for wheelchair users in Tenerife - reading ‘Start With Why’ by Simon Sinek, that Josh was inspired to do something about it. He explains: “If you’re going abroad and don’t speak the language, it's very scary when staff come rushing towards you and you can't communicate with them. They have to lift you, under your arms and legs, in areas that some people might find extremely painful. It's not nice at all. “When you're a wheelchair user used to sitting on a medical seat, an aircraft seat is like sitting on concrete. I thought 'why can't we create something that can go into the wheelchair, which has padding and can be used to transfer the people on the plane?'.” At the time, only half of the UK’s airports and just three airports in Spain had any form of equipment they could use to lift disabled passengers. Just a few months after putting together his business plan, Josh won the overall prize at The Stelios Awards

for Disabled Entrepreneurs UK in 2018. Along with a £30,000 prize fund, it led to easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou offering a brand license and investment deal for the product itself. And so it became the easyTravelseat. ‘Turning everything upside down’ Having developed a successful and steady career in IT, Josh remained in his job while launching the business. He describes getting it off the ground as the hardest time, but says he was determined not to let his disability deter him from success as an entrepreneur. “When you are living with a disability like this it can be incredibly physically and mentally tiring,” Josh says. Between a full day’s work, two hours of personal care at home and exercise necessary to maintain what little mobility he has, Josh couldn’t even start to consider working on the business until at least 8pm every night. “I did that for a year, working every night and weekend from my bed on the business plan and research. “Winning the UK Disabled Entrepreneur Award turned everything upside down. I suddenly had cash and funding to really get things going. So I decided to leave the security of my full time job in the IT industry and really give this a shot.”

He says: “I’ll develop the seat further to cater for more disabilities. I'd like to keep working on driving change in the aviation industry for disabled people; toileting on aircraft and getting wheelchairs inside the cabin. If I can make aviation more accessible for as many people with disabilities as I can, that's what I'll continue to do.” Josh also works with various disability charities, including Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK, Leonard Cheshire, and the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation to share his story and inspire. “I go to events and parents are worried. They’re asking if their child can work, go to university, live independently. When I tell my story, they go away with a smile on their face knowing their children have the opportunity to go out there, do what they want and lead good lives. “For me, that's worth its weight in gold. If I can get to a point where my business is up and running and helping people to travel, aiding people in a personal capacity whilst driving my sports career, I'll be a happy man.”

Worth more than an award “I didn’t expect anything,” Josh laughs as he recalls arriving at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards South West regional final in October. “Winning for the South West was amazing, but to go onto the National Final and win your category across the whole is the UK is something special. I like to think it sets an example to other young people who are thinking about starting a business. It shows them that they can do it no matter what their circumstances are.” He adds: “What's really nice is that the Great British Entrepreneur Awards recognise the achievements of people that are out there doing good things for others. It's really nice that you can get their stories out there. It was amazing just to be recognised for what I'm doing.” Becoming a role model Greater success inevitably leads to a higher profile and becoming a role model for so many people in all walks of life, not just entrepreneurship. What’s clear from Josh’s story is that his motivations extend far beyond money. He grew up playing a lot of sport and exercising daily, and his love of competition remains strong as he targets a place on the Paralympics GB shooting team for Paris 2024. In the 12 months since it started trading, Able Move has sold in 15 countries. However, Josh admits there is a long way to go with between 150,000 and 200,000 wheelchair users in the UK alone. His mission is to take the seat to every country, every airport and every airline around the world to enable disabled people to travel safely, with dignity and comfort.


• Josh nearly dropped out of university, but came away with a first class honours degree • And was awarded an honorary masters degree in 2019 • Josh is targeting a place on the Paralympics GB shoot squad for Paris 2024 • He was inspired to start a business after reading ‘Start with the Why’ by Simon Sinek • Josh has plans to become a serial entrepreneur with several business ideas 25



NEWS Research shows how at least 1.5 million UK households have the capacity to make the switch to electric. MINI is making waves with the launch of the new MINI Electric. We investigate into design, revolutionary electronics, and the future for MINI. What Car? approached 2,310 current electric vehicle owners and a further 23,500 non-EV owners to understand how they used their cars on an everyday basis. This research found that 17% of multi-car households have at least one vehicle that never makes a journey of more than 100 miles. Overlaying these numbers with the percentage that has a driveway for home-charging (88%), What Car? calculated that 1.56m households – of the 27m in the UK – could convert to a pure electric vehicle without any compromises today. This figure is set to increase as charging infrastructure and electric vehicle range increases in future years. “Most drivers are aware of the drive towards electrification, but are uncertain whether the current cars and infrastructure can meet their needs: the evidence here shows that a significant proportion of households could make the switch without any compromise, and start enjoying the benefits of EVs – including travelling with zero emissions in near-silence, enjoying significant cost-savings through the year, and the potential for being free from congestion or clean air zone charges,” said Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car? To further support the arguments for purchasing an electric car, a surprising two-thirds of households that already have one, as well as a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle, say they now use the EV as their main vehicle. 2019 was labelled the year of the electric vehicle, with no fewer than 19 different pure battery powered cars hitting the showrooms. The latest is the Oxford-built all-electric Mini Electric, available to pre-order now. It is being revealed just months after What Car? awarded its coveted Car of the Year accolade to the all-electric Kia

e-Niro – the first time that an electric car has won the award. Electric car range varies according to battery size, but What Car?’s Real Range testing has measured 18 EVs with ranges from 57 miles to 259 miles. All but three of the 15 cars tested have a Real Range in excess of 100 miles. Prices for new EVs with a range exceeding 100 miles start from around £18,000 when purchased with a separate battery lease, or £24,500 with the battery included. Most electric vehicles are leased, with typical monthly payments around £300, depending on the size of your deposit, according to What Car? Target Price Finance data. Sales of new electric cars hit a total of 9,489 for 2019 at the end of May – up more 60% year- onyear but still less than 1% of the total market – bringing the total number of electric cars on UK roads to around 70,000. New models are being launched with increasing frequency, which suggests that exponential growth will continue, although What Car?’s research also highlighted that the majority of motorists’ perception of electric car ownership still lags a long way behind the reality. Enter MINI As the world faces new environmental, social and economic challenges, MINI has unveiled its first fully electric model – the MINI Electric. Every inch a MINI, with performance close to the hot-hatch MINI Cooper S, it is temptingly priced and demand is expected to be strong.

Characteristic MINI design The MINI Electric is based on the same body shell as the 3-Door Hatch, with a number of specific differences. An embossed MINI Electric logo appears on car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille. The front grille features the hallmark hexagonal shape but is closed, as the car requires less cooling. This also contributes to excellent aerodynamics. Electric drive-train The battery pack has 12 modules of lithium-ion cells arranged in a T-shaped unit in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats, providing a battery capacity of 32.6 kWh. The motor is the latest, powerful version of the synchronous electric motor developed by the BMW Group and provides a maximum output of 184 HP and maximum torque of 270 Nm. As a result, the car accelerates to 62mph in just 7.3 seconds with top speed limited to 93mph. The power electronics are shielded by a reinforced bumper carrier and the motor support frame, while the high-voltage battery is protected by a solid base plate. In accordance with new EU law, the car is fitted with acoustic pedestrian protection for low-speed driving, with a distinctive sound created especially for the car generated via a speaker system. Even more dynamic Electric drive takes the trademark MINI go-kart driving feeling to new heights, thanks to new suspension technology designed for this model. With a centre of gravity that is at least 30mm lower than in the MINI Cooper S and the reduced weight over the front wheels thanks to the electric motor, close to perfect weight distribution helps the new MINI Electric achieve exceptional driving dynamics.


We sat down with David George, Managing Director of MINI UK, to discuss the future of the iconic brand. The car is often seen as an extension of the home, is that reflected in the way interiors are designed and the features you have available, like voice control and streaming? We’re certainly seeing customers demands changing, especially with the expectation that the technology they’re familiar with and using at home is also made available to them in their car. We now offer customers Amazon Echo integration, allowing customers to integrate the smart home functionality they’re used to directly into the MINI infotainment dashboard. Voice activation is also seeing a surge of customer interest, as customers feel comfortable using voice commands to go about their day. MINI drivers can use the built-in Concierge Service 24/7 to check opening times, book hotel rooms and check on the status of flights and we’re seeing a big rise in the use of this feature. Are electric cars the future? And what’s currently stopping more people from making the switch? There are a few hurdles stopping some people from moving over to electric, some of these are real, some are perceived. Given where the industry is at with the technology and charging infrastructure currently, the reality is, that it doesn’t suit everyone’s needs just yet. However, even with the current infrastructure limitations, we know from research that there are already around 1.5 million homes that could switch to MINI Electric today with no compromise. Battery technology has improved greatly over the last 10 years – thinking back to the MINI E concept that we tested in 2009, we had to remove the rear seats to fit the batteries in the car as they were so big! Fast forward 10 years and looking at the MINI Electric, we were able to have the same interior cabin as the traditional


Looking at the market growth in PHEVs, how is MINI looking to meet the 2020 emissions target? MINI Hatch, as the batteries are under the floor, which is pretty astonishing. Electric is certainly the future and the way the whole industry is moving, and for customers who aren’t quite ready to make the full electric leap yet or have infrastructure issues, there are some really good plugin hybrid models available, such as the MINI Countryman PHEV. What does the future look like for MINI? In three, 10 and 15 years... What can we expect to see, and what do you hope to see? We celebrated the 60th birthday for MINI in 2019, and it gave us the perfect way to look back to our humble beginnings in 1959. MINI was conceived as a solution to the environmental issues of the time, which in the late 1950s was a fuel crisis. So it’s really apt, that 2020 will see the launch of our first fullyelectric car, the MINI Electric. This is a huge milestone for us and a very proud moment in our history. We’re delighted that the MINI Electric will deliver the very same character and values that the original car did 60 years ago. In the future, MINI will be ensuring its design remains as characterful as ever, with that smile-inducing driving experience, and also explore platform sizes and whether it’s possible to increase cabin space whilst reducing the footprint of the vehicle.

In terms of the electric option, we launched the Countryman Plug-In Hybrid almost two years ago now, which has been hugely successful for us. This is really good news as it show us there is interest and demand from the public for electric products. Of course, the really big shift for us will be when the fully electric MINI comes out in March; that will be quite a transformation for the brand. It’s part of a wider strategy by BMW Group, which is committed to having 25 different models available with electric propulsion by 2025. There is a real commitment now to moving towards electric mobility. Please tell us about MINI UK’s plans and objectives for the future. Are you optimistic about the outlook for your markets? All our focus now is on MINI Electric. We will of course focus on our core business, but most of our energy is now placed on planning and preparing for the brand’s full launch into full electric, which is hugely exciting for us. We are currently taking orders ahead of the launch in March, and have seen a huge swell of demand for this car so far. Preparing for that, and ensuring that we are in a good place to satisfy customer demand and deliver a successful launch, is key this year.

To find out about the new MINI Electric, visit their website:


Rob - We also felt it was important to have a team that was focused on what is happening outside of the LEGO Group in the world of creativity and learning through play. Although The LEGO Group have innovated amazingly around the brick, and there are also many other companies and products that have successfully taken these principles into the digital space. LEGO Ventures endeavours to spot such companies and work with them at the right stages to ensure the LEGO Group remains at the cutting-edge of industry innovations. Why is your focus on learning through play? Morten - It is the shared philosophy of all the entities under the LEGO® brand, that play is the most effective and natural way to learn the most essential skills. Through play, we naturally learn to test, fail and iterate – alone and together. This builds core higher order skills such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. Rob - Learning through play is a broad catch-all, but it has a profound meaning. If someone – whether they are a child, adult or grandparent – enjoys what they are doing, they will do it again, pay more attention, bring others into it. Why should learning be boring or repetitive when it can be openended and creative? There are so many entertaining yet also nutritious experiences and products being created out there, we want to get right into the middle of them and see where we can help them grow and flourish. Is it mainly children and educational spaces you invest in, or do you cover other areas? Morten - Within the scope of things that support learning through play, we try to stay as broad and open-minded as possible. That being said, we often find that the education space and children’s consumer products, including digital, are our sweet spots. LEGO Ventures seeks to invest in entrepreneurs, ideas and start-ups that sit at the intersection of creativity, play and learning. We spoke to Morten Vestergaard Andersen - EMEA Investment Partner, Robert Lowe - Head of Value Creation and Michael Stahl – Head of LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio, to find out more about LEGO Ventures’ Mission. What does the team look for in investment opportunities? Morten - First we look for a clear alignment to the LEGO® Principles around learning through play and we care deeply about the product being a positive force in children’s lives. When looking at specific investment opportunities we assess similarly to traditional venture firms, with focus on extraordinary teams with clear differentiation on product vision, technology, distribution channels etc. What are your three lighthouses, and why these elements? Morten - Our three lighthouses are creativity, play and learning. The intersection of these three elements encapsulates the LEGO® idea and guides our focus towards companies delivering meaningful and nourishing experiences. What is the link between LEGO® and entrepreneurship? Morten - Entrepreneurship runs in the LEGO® brand’s veins. The founding family have always been entrepreneurial at heart and on a quest to continuously reinvent and innovate their business. This is reflected deeply in the core product philosophy itself, which is around daring to try new things, to fail, to iterate and to learn by doing. What inspired the launch of LEGO Ventures? Morten - A belief that the LEGO® idea of learning through play is applicable broader than the LEGO® brick. From that came a desire to engage with disruptors, innovators and new-thinkers to bring even more meaningful experiences to children and other learners all over the world – the ‘builders of tomorrow’ as we like to call them.


Do you offer additional support after investment? Rob - Yes – it is essentially our unique selling point versus other VCs or funds. There is plenty of investment money out there, what we have to offer alongside the financial aspect is the 87 years of knowledge and expertise that comes with being global experts in the field of play and creativity. LEGO Ventures will provide this access and exposure for our investments. We want to utilise this to help our portfolio grow and flourish, whilst also bringing them into the LEGO® entities to show how different approaches can yield incredible results. We call it mutual ‘value creation’ – and it is a core reason why LEGO Ventures was set up. At what point in a company’s lifecycle would you invest? Morten - We are fairly stage agnostic but aim for companies with some revenue traction and proof of product-market fit. In Europe, this usually translates to Series A and forward. Is it short or long-term investment? And why? Morten - Within a venture capital context, we consider ourselves long-term investors. We originate from an 87-yearold company and we understand that to be successful, we have to saddle up to support our founders in the long-run. How do you leverage technologies like AR and AI? Morten - We see huge potential in new immersive technologies such as AR and VR, and maybe even more so in deeply disruptive technologies such as AI. There are many nuances, but in general we believe that if applied correctly, technologies such as these can play a positive role in the education and children’s space as well. What is LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio? Michael - We recently launched LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio, which is a launchpad for exploring, building, launching


Investment Areas: Education Technology The education sector is on the brink of a massive transformation driven by the rapid technological developments. However, most children are still taught in systems that are outdated. LEGO Ventures believes that the current market dynamics represent a significant opportunity to invest in education technologies and companies that can influence the way children are engaged and retained through early education. 21st Century Skill Development Children of today need to be prepared for the society of tomorrow. In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, LEGO Ventures believes skills like creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, confidence and empathy will be more important than ever before. LEGO Ventures is looking to invest in consumer-focused companies, who share our belief and who are providing innovative offerings, focusing on developing these essential life skills for the 21st century. New Play Spaces LEGO Ventures believes children’s play spaces are fundamentally changing; parents and children are demanding deep and immersive play experiences which seamlessly transcend across space and time whilst engaging the entire family. LEGO Ventures looks to invest in companies that enable creativity and play across time and physical spaces, specifically focusing on connected toys with digital-physical integration, location-based play away from home, immersive outdoor play and solutions bringing parents and children together in play. Creative Making Creative confidence and ability will be core attributes for the future workforce. However, today most children rely on directed creative processes that leave little room for creative freedom. This has led to a decline in creativity scores amongst children worldwide. With the vision of democratizing creativity, LEGO Ventures will look to invest in consumerfocused companies that empower openended physical and/or digital creativity. Get in touch Website - Twitter - @LEGO_Ventures LinkedIn - LEGO Ventures

and scaling new ideas that bring creativity, play and learning into the life of children around the world. It is operating as a venture studio that are exploring early stage ideas and new venture opportunities with the purpose of building commercially-viable businesses together with entrepreneurs. Why does LEGO Ventures need the Incubation Studio? Michael - Everything big once started small, and we believe it’s important to create a space where we can nurture and validate early stage ideas. In many ways it is in line with how children are learning through play, by creating a safe environment where you can experiment and learn through a hands-on, minds-on approach. We are building on our entrepreneurial heritage and our belief that the LEGO® idea of learning through play is applicable broader than the LEGO® brick system. We also believe that in order to fully engage with entrepreneurs, innovators and new thinkers, we needed a complimentary setup to our investment team, enabling us to work on maturing and validating early stage ideas and opportunities.   Where do these ideas come from? Michael - Early trends show that ideas and opportunities will come from a variety of sources, ranging from internal colleagues in our entities to external entrepreneurs around the globe. As we are ramping up our efforts and programs during 2020 we will be looking to work with the full range of entrepreneurs, innovators and new-thinkers. What kind of ideas will you be looking for? Michael - We are guided by the same theses and focusareas as our investment-team, and will looking to work with interesting individuals and entrepreneurs who have early stage ideas that can shape the future of play, learning and creativity. How can entrepreneurs join? Michael - We are just getting started and during the spring of 2020 we will be announcing various ways to engage with the Incubation Studio – for now we would urge you to stay connected through Twitter and LinkedIn.


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Damien denies illness for market disruption by hannah richards Damien Lee has been an entrepreneur all his life and now brands himself as unemployable. He’s always looking for the next big thing. On his quest to disrupt and redefine the market across a number of sectors, he was stalled in his endeavours when he got his first cancer diagnosis. Defying doctors life estimations, he continued on his entrepreneurial journey to launch Mr Lee’s Noodles.


He’s launched security companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, restaurants and bars, recruitment companies, and many more. He reflects on one of his major start-ups, a maritime satellite communications company, now the second largest in the world. “I sold that one way too early, otherwise I’d be living on a little island somewhere I’m sure,” he says. Although Blighty isn’t quite his own private island, Damien has found his home-away-fromhome in Bournemouth, the closest seaside city to London and reminiscent of his home in Australia. The move from Chelsea was driven by his desire to launch a gadget design start-up. Things were going very well, almost a year into the business Damien had 20 people working for him and had just secured his biggest round of outside funding. In the same week, he was diagnosed with late stage 4 cancer. “I was told I only had a few weeks left to live. It started in my chest and had moved into my stomach. They knew I was a single dad, they offered me two options. They said ‘someone at your stage may not choose to have treatment as you may want to see it out with a better quality of life, rather than starting chemo.’ I said, ‘are you kidding me?! I have two kids and don’t intend on going anywhere, throw whatever you’ve got at me, I’ll take it.’” After the diagnosis, Damien took steps to eradicate everything in his life that could have a


detriment to his health. This included assessing his diet, and taking out any ‘nasties.’ As a time-poor entrepreneur, he knew it was going to be hard to swap convenience for healthier alternatives, however, it was necessity to help aid his recovery. He took all the salt, sugars, saturated fat and junk food out of his diet and went ‘raw’. Almost a year later, he was in remission.

“I said, ‘are you kidding me, I have two kids and don’t intend on going anywhere, throw whatever you’ve got at me, I’ll take it.’” A Turbulent Time During that period of time, Damien lost his company. “I was the driving force in the business, the funding didn’t come in from the investors as for them it was game over. The team had to get on with their lives, nobody thought I was going to make it. People moved on,” he says. Unsure what to do next, he reflected on a business trip to China where he met with two brothers who owned China’s fifth largest instant noodles factory. Whilst there, he learnt that they make five billion instant noodles a year (just for China). The brothers propositioned Damien about

being their European importer. “I was busy with Designed Gadgets at the time and said ‘I’m flattered and thank you very much for the offer, but I know nothing about noodles outside of eating them. And I don’t know anything about the retail market, but I’m also busy with my own stuff. Thanks but no thanks’. I was standing on the factory floor, surrounded by mountains of instant noodles. It was an awkward moment, so I asked them what their favourite flavour was. He looked at me and smiled at me and said, ‘Damien, we don’t eat our own noodles’. I asked why? and he said, ‘if you knew what we put in them, you wouldn’t either.’” Here was the owner of the food company, telling him that they wouldn’t even eat their own product. Damien had been eating tonnes of them, a go-to source of sustenance when he had been working long hours, travelling, and rushing between meetings. He questioned why there was nothing ‘real’ in the noodles. The brothers described how there were once 300 instant noodle manufacturers in China and now there’s less than 60. The margins are so competitive that everybody is dumbing down the product, nobody can afford to put anything decent in the products anymore.

The Lightbulb Moment “I thought, ‘whilst they are all in this race to the bottom, the opportunity is going the completely opposite way. By creating the world’s healthiest, nutritionally good noodle that has real food, and in fact, proudly the most expensive pot noodle for all the good reasons.’” In a world where we are becoming much more aware of what we put in our bodies, there is definitely a market for healthy alternatives to convenience foods. Damien describes how “when you go into a supermarket today you’ll see, what I call ‘pack-turners.’ Five to ten years ago you wouldn’t see a guy walking down the aisles picking up products and turning the pack around to read the nutritional information and ingredients. We’re becoming so much more aware of better eating.

Attitudes are changing. That combined with the race to the bottom, helped me think that there is a real opportunity for a good noodle.” Disrupting The Market When telling people about his price point, he was met with confusion and disillusionment. However, Damien and his team have changed buyers’ and consumers’ perceptions, by challenging the idea of noodles as a cheap and cheerful university food. People are starting to change their minds and noodle buying habits, and it’s all down to Mr Lee’s.

“I thought, whilst they are all in this race to the bottom, the opportunity is going the completely opposite way. By creating the world’s healthiest, nutritionally good noodle that has real food.” With his £100 marketing budget at the time, he questioned how he could get his noodles to be seen and heard over the cheaper household noodle brands on the shelf in the supermarket. His strategy, ‘not the supermarket first.’ His root to market was the airlines, hotels and trains. With 100 million passengers a year on easyJet and 30 million on Virgin Australia and others, marketing would be vast and globalised. “It’s fantastic marketing on an airline. What incredible free marketing you get for your product when you’re on board. You get this great product awareness, you also get people conditioned to paying a higher price point as they are naturally artificially inflated prices too,” he says. “The way I take countries: the air cover first, hit the airlines in that region. Then we drop down into the supermarkets and retailers from there.” The innovative marketing techniques didn’t stop there. Damien wanted to get into universities and hospitals via noodle vending machines, one that injects hot water, serving you a wholesome pot of hot tasty noodles. Instead of using an archaic, dull vending machine, Damien wanted bright, bold, interactive, engaging and intelligent. He wanted them to understand the customer. He therefore launched data-capturing, noodle-vending, big touch screen kiosks, which could also collect data on who was using it. This important data is priceless to the real estate provider as it summarises the key demographic. It helps companies review footfall and brand exposure in certain areas. Trials in Bournemouth University in one of the main thoroughfares showed how there were hundreds of people walking down the hallways in the early morning between 12pm to 6am. This helped their facilities managers do more planning around security, and health and safety. Mr Lee’s Noodles have also found their way into the hospitals, revolutionising the way medical staff, patients and visitors can snack on the wards. “We have our first NHS kiosks going in now, that was always something close to my heart. Knowing when


I was in hospitals, particularly after the restaurants are closed, the only option you have to go to is the vending machine where you can get yourself a can of coke, a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps. This is crazy, we’re in a hospital promoting cutting back on sugar and eating better. The only food option you have is exactly that.” Going Global Now operating in Europe, Australia and America, Mr Lee’s wants to cover as much territory as possible, before the competitors see opportunity In a higherpriced, nutritious noodle. “I said to the team at the beginning, ‘don’t think local, think global’. We are going to be a global brand and business. It’s been my day one mantra,” he says. He has always told his team to never be foolish enough to rest on their laurels, as once they proved that there was a market for the product, others would follow. This was the driving force for going global quickly. “We would be silly being a small company like ourselves, to think ‘let’s take five to eight years to get the product launched solely in the UK’. Because by that time, our big competitors would have launched a similar product everywhere else around the world and we would have missed our boat.”

Damien wanted to create a global footprint and brand awareness in international markets, no matter how small. He needed to gain a swift hold on Europe, America and Australasia. They had to grow fast, as they’d let the secret out, there was now a huge market for the healthy pot noodle. Mr Lee’s had the advantage. It was the first to market and expanded so fast, that by the time the bigger, global companies had realised that the noodles had been dominating an untouched market that they had overlooked, Mr Lee’s had already expanded over three continents. The noodles also have a real person endorsing the


brand, instead of faceless conglomerates more concerned with lowering price points and reducing the quality of ingredients. “Because of my own personal health issues being the driving force behind the development of Mr Lee’s Noodles, there is a genuine story behind the company. We have that advantage. We have a small boutique, genuine brand that has its own face with an authentic reasoning behind passionately creating a noodle that’s not going to do you any harm. In the long term, a founders story does help sell the product,” he says. Authenticity Makes a Winner The noodles come in a unique selection of flavours. They are not ‘a take’ on classics, which most cheaper noodle companies fall victim to. Damien does not put his own twist on flavours, he prides himself on sticking with authentic oriental flavours. Growing up in Australia with a Singaporean father, they are the flavourings he grew up with. When looking at the market and deciding where he wanted Mr Lee’s Noodles to sit, he found that there was no authenticity. “I benchmarked my products there, but we’re just going to do it better. I wanted to create flavours that are authentically oriental. We are broadening our range, which are coming in the new year too. Always authentic, not a version of with a western twist.” He laughs when asked what his favourite flavour is. A question he obviously gets asked a lot. “Hong Kong Street Beef, but of course I love them all,” he replies. A far cry from the Chinese brothers’ answer a few years prior. It is insurmountable that Damien gains recognition for his hard work, cheerfulness in the face of adversity, and successful marketing methods. He was therefore awarded London and the South East, and National Great British Entrepreneur Awards Small Business of the Year Award for 2019. He modestly accounts how “it meant a lot. I truly was humbled. I was so not expecting the award, not even the regional win.” No entrepreneur can do it alone, it’s the team that you build and gather around you. They join in on your vision, and you can see when your vision becomes their vision too. You have collective momentum of everyone pushing in the same direction, to drive that dream faster. “For me it wasn’t about me, it was about what we are doing at Mr Lee’s and the team, they are amazing. I just wanted to give everyone a great big hug for what they’re doing. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. When I did stop to think

about it, it felt like such an honour and maybe it’s a little pat on the back to myself. All the hard work was finally being recognised, and Mr Lee’s was the catalyst for that. We have won lots of awards over the years, but this is the one that really meant a lot to me.”

“We have a small boutique, genuine brand that has its own person with his own health reasons behind passionately creating a noodle that’s not going to do you any harm.” Too Busy for Cancer Damien’s latest and now fourth cancer diagnosis is that he is terminal and just about to start treatment again. However, Damien’s illness does not define him, he has learnt to live with cancer. “There’s just so much to do, we’ve got loads going on – expanding into America, organisations opening their arms, the opportunities and new products, I want to disrupt more unhealthy food categories which we are working on now and will be launching in the new year. Life is too good to have to be thinking about dying.”

“I wanted to create flavours that are authentically oriental. We are broadening our range, which are coming in the new year too.” His admirable and inspiring outlook on life should be a message to us all. No matter what obstacles are thrown at you, there is no point on dwelling on what could have been, instead, look for opportunity and invest your energy into that. Damien has launched two other companies which are in different stages of start-up and scale-up. “That’s why I’m too busy for cancer, I haven’t got too much time to think about it. When I have to go to the hospital, I just go in and it’s like popping in for an appointment. My mindset is that I don’t dwell on the negative. I’m looking for the positive things that need to be done.”


• Damien and his two boys had to live on £45 a week on ‘Rich House, Poor House’ • He’s had security companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, restaurants, bars and all sorts of recruitments companies • Mr Lees Noodles costs $7.50 on board JetStar and Virgin aircraft, where 30-40,000 a month are sold

Make sure you keep an eye out for Damien in ‘Rich House, Poor House’ on Channel 5. “They wanted to show people that come from the more privileged families, aren’t necessarily born with silver spoons in their mouths. There are entrepreneurs who are self-made people, who have worked hard all their lives, and built something for their families. I wanted that for my boys, I wanted them to understand that life isn’t always easy. You have to work hard, it was a real eye opener for them.”

• Damien owns Solublue and has developed a new material that is truly 100% biodegradable, in an attempt to tackle the issue of single use plastics • He loves all the flavours, of course, but his true go-to flavour has to be the Hong Kong Street Beef 37








Great British Entrepreneurs LIVE is an entrepreneurs’ get together put on by the team behind the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Find out more information, register to attend, or book exhibition space: 38

th & 5 ,6 7 MAY 2020 th


Great British Entrepreneurs LIVE

Supporters Showcase

Taking place at London’s Truman Brewery, Great British Entrepreneurs LIVE will feature:

Exhibiting in the Supporters Showcase presents the opportunity to position the brand at the forefront of entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom, while engaging with some of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs from start-up to scale-up.

An Entrepreneurs Emporium hosting some of Britain’s hottest entrepreneurial businesses showcasing their products and services.

A ‘Home Grown’ theatre featuring speaker sessions, panels and Q&As with Great Britain’s top entrepreneurs and emerging talent.

Daily breakfast events for intimate peer to peer learning and networking.

A Supporters Showcase; offering entrepreneurs the chance to meet service providers and support organisations.

One to one sessions with experts.

Nook Pod Sessions We’ve teamed up with Nook Pods to host one-toone sessions with visitors. Nook Pods provide an intimate and innovative space to engage with potential customers directly in a one-to-one setting.

GB Entrepreneurs LIVE Theatre

Entrepreneurs Emporium The Entrepreneurs Emporium will showcase some of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneur-led businesses demonstrating, selling and pitching their businesses in the most exciting and innovative ways.

Our extensive community of alumni, judges and supporters are shaping the world of entrepreneurship. An impressive line-up of speakers from some of the UK’s biggest entrepreneur-led businesses will be taking to the stage in the GB Entrepreneurs LIVE Theatre, discussing a whole host of topics, providing you with the actionable advice and knowledge you need to take your business to the next level.




Exactly one year ago, I wrote that “when it comes to Brexit, almost everything is uncertain and unclear.” Now in February 2020, Brexit has apparently been ‘done’. But what then? Given the arguments about how long the transition needs to be, perhaps ‘No deal’ is still an option!? In any event, 2020 is likely to be a further year of uncertainty as the deal detail is thrashed out. However, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing – at least, not for all of us. 40

FEATURE Entrepreneurs understand that uncertainty is our friend. Uncertainty can clearly make planning difficult, but this is more to the disadvantage of larger businesses which typically have long decision lead-times. Corporates are simply not as agile as start-ups, challenger brands and those disrupting the marketplace. By their very nature, the businesses which form the “S” in SME have the playing field tipped in their favour when uncertainty is predominant in the marketplace. The UK business community, and particularly the SME sector, needs to take the initiative. They now have been handed an eleven month period (at least) in which they can put plans in place to not only mitigate Brexit risks but to take advantage of post-Deal opportunities. Despite the continuing uncertainty (and possibly because of it), failing to prepare for a post-transition world would be tantamount to preparing for failure. And now that Brexit is definitely happening, entrepreneurs need to become more proactive. Using the UK FMCG sector as a good example, there are five key areas which entrepreneurs can use to prepare effectively for Brexit – no matter what exact version of it we actually end up with. CURRENCY Business leaders can continue to embrace the post-referendum devaluation of the pound and leverage it as a powerful commercial opportunity. A weaker pound has already facilitated demand overseas and increased supplier margins. An undeniable appetite for “Brand Britain” exists abroad, so ‘heritage-focused’ marketing and branding makes for great commercial opportunity. INNOVATION Devaluation has, on the flip side, increased the price of imports, which makes the purchasing of British-grown or originated goods more appealing to customers at home. Growing FMCG brands can implement “product substitution” - designed

to develop home versions of imported products sold to UK consumers with UK-designed and manufactured products e.g. why can’t British consumers buy brie made in South Wales rather than in France once the “protected designation of origin” rules don’t apply post-Deal? STAFF & SKILLS Many UK businesses employ significant numbers of EU-origin staff - and this group needs reassurance and support regarding their future presence and status in the UK. Businesses can avail of various industry-specific audit process or ‘Action Kits’ made available to provide their relevant staff with the advice and direction they need to understand the various options available to them and help with following procedures to secure their future in the UK and within the businesses to which they belong.

an EU manufacturing base may increase job security and stability for your total business - especially in the long-term. An obvious option to consider is the Republic of Ireland, given the benefits of the same language, business culture and very similar tax structures and legal systems. Or eastern Europe, where a low unit cost and a great proximity to certain raw material sources and ultimate consumer markets may be deciding factors. Almost everything is still uncertain and unclear. However, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, this is precisely the environment in which we thrive. Being prepared - whether for post-Deal Brexit or for the next market change - presents an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage over your industry competitor.

TARIFFS & CUSTOMS It’s important to anticipate the introduction of new or increased trade tariffs – even in a soft Brexit scenario. The agreement struck with the EU to prevent a hard border in Ireland suggests that Great Britain will not remain in either the Customs Union nor in the Single Market – so the Deal will likely have some “hard” elements in it. Therefore, businesses need to scenario plan the effect of likely tariff changes on overseas RRPs (and that in the context of existing competition) and options to mitigate the effect of potential RRP increases. LOCATION For those wishing to grow their trade opportunities within the EU, it’s worth considering developing an EU manufacturing base. This approach can lead to the avoidance of UK tariffs for importing ingredients and similarly avoiding EU tariffs when exporting finished goods. This should clearly be designed to sustain a growth strategy, and not detract from UK-based activities. When launched successfully,

John Stapleton is the co-founder of New Covent Garden Soup Co., an angel investor, business leader and speaker with over 30 years’ experience in pioneering new FMCG categories and establishing and growing successful consumer-led businesses in both the UK and the USA. Leveraging his extensive experience, John provides business growth advice and mentorship to growing businesses; is a business thought leader and speaks on a wide range of entrepreneurial management & motivational leadership topics.




FEATURE Let’s start with a confession, I wasn’t born with a global outlook on life. My family can trace its lineage back many centuries to the same small town of Selkirk, in the Scottish Borders (population circa 6,000) where I was born. Careers for my ancestors were found through traditional and community connections, invariably based within a few miles of “oor ain dear Selkirk Toon” as one of the many town songs goes. I was in my late teens before I first travelled to England and early 20s (1983) before taking my first trip on a plane. A very different life from today where I am unlikely to spend the whole week in one country. So, what happened, what changed my mindset, how did I develop my own global mindset? The answer was to find opportunities to travel and visit new countries not as a tourist but as an entrepreneur looking out for new opportunities. Let’s start with my definition of ‘global mindset’: 1. To consider every opportunity in terms of where in the world the best market for this can be found. 2. To always remain open to listen to others on how best to achieve my end goal. 3. That any decision must by made once research has been completed and a documented strategy agreed upon. 4. To build multiple networks of interconnected individuals across the globe. An example here could be Scottish Business Network, a not-for-profit community of business leaders with a an affinity for Scotland. Though this network was built in London, the protocols and technology deployed were designed to be global from day one. And to validate our strategy, we have worked closely with Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh Business school which carried out research assignments into

countries on our behalf. To date we have over 8,000 in the community based across 76 countries. The benefits of my development of a global mindset has been access to new opportunities, the development of global connections and access to new markets. Recently I was in Atlanta, Georgia supporting the launch of our Southern US chapter something that would never have been possible if I had not held an open mind to accelerating this opportunity to fruition in a part of the world I have only limited familiarity with.. How to develop a global mindset in 10 steps: 1. Be open to learn from others – no “closed mind thinking”.

8. Don’t follow, lead. Check out second or third cities in countries rather than the New Yorks and Berlins. Where could there be opportunities that your competitors aren’t taking advantage of? 9. Start every conversation with the mindset of “How can I help someone else?” and not “How can you help me?” 10. Continual learning. There has never been so much free information available. Use it. P.S. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that this article was written from seat 31C on a transatlantic flight.

2. Try to say “yes” when the opportunities arises and learn to trust others – fear is the enemy of progress 3. Do your research. I cannot emphasise this highly enough. From Google, to industry reports to university-based research projects, there is simply no good reason not to execute research and hence develop data-derived strategies. 4. Build your network. Start with something simple like LinkedIn. Connect with those around the world who share your interests, work in your sector and don’t forget competitors in other regions. 5. Ask for help. This simply works. Try it. Senior individuals in corporations just may be able to provide you with the “leg up” to accelerate your plans but if you don’t ask them how will you know. 6. Adapt your value proposition. What benefits your customers in your home market may not translate into a new market. Ask for help from those in market connections and tailor your message as appropriate. 7. Travel. By a ticket, get on a plane and meet with that network you have built. You will never regret this investment. ‘Yes’ to Zoom, ‘yes’ to Skype but nothing ever beats meeting in person.

Russell is founding Managing Partner of the advisory group, Exolta Capital Partners, and Founding Chairman of Scottish Business Network, the global network supporting Scottish business leaders. Russell has enjoyed the benefits of a highly successful international career in the technology sector and now focuses his efforts on supporting owners and boards of companies to devise and implement growth strategies to create shareholder value. In his earlier career, he held board leadership positions with international companies achieving turnover more than £200m. Twitter: @russellexolta Email: //




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The UK wants to be open for business and it is encouraging global entrepreneurs to try to come and set up a business in the UK via entrepreneurship visas. To recognise, champion and encourage these innovative entrepreneurs with scalable business proposals to enter the Great British Entrepreneurs ecosystem, in partnership with Fortunis Capital, we are launching a new category for 2020. The new Foreign Innovation Award will showcase some of the most promising foreign entrepreneurs who have been endorsed and relocated their business to the UK - creating new jobs and helping to strengthen the economy for an overall positive effect. and fintech that improves ethical lending. Our proven ability to work with diverse industries allows us to screen, select and promote the most innovative applications across all sectors.

positive and ethical outcome. As an investment company, we offer our investors the opportunity to support the UK economy like never before, benefitting both the UK & our investors interests. Fortunis Capital leads each investment and dedicates a fulltime team to provide expert advice and industry introductions, so each new innovative business can receive the best possible start. Once a concept has been incubated and is ready for the next step, we offer a wide portfolio of investment opportunities to take the business to the next level and beyond. Already a successful business looking to relocate to the UK? The Innovator Visa caters for established companies looking to move to the UK, and we want to invest in your UK growth. From growth finance to PE investment opportunities and visa endorsement, we understand that every business and it’s needs are different so we offer a variety of options to suit you.

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SPONSORED How do you design and create perfumes?

Owen Drew England

We sat down with multi award-winning perfumers and GBEA finalist, Owen Drew, to discuss their latest olfactory creation. Since the company’s inception little over three years ago, the brand has scooped up a host of prestigious awards, garnered international press – including a feature in French Forbes magazine and Vogue – and has become an industry and celebrity favourite. We spoke to the brand’s founder, Drew Cockton, about their latest fragrance, PLATINUM. Drew, tell us about PLATINUM. What inspired you to create this scent?

I wanted to design something dynamic and exciting ny Just by the idea of the ‘Roaring 2020s’, a rsaryinspired fragrance which makes the wearer feel bold and confident. We are at the beginning of a new tulations decade, a time for self-belief and optimism, and I agement wanted PLATINUM to capture this feeling. r Thank What does it smell like? k Cheeky It is a crisp, clean and citrus fragrance. The scent Wife opens with a burst of zingy freshness with head of bergamot, mandarin and neroli. After being ns notes worn for a while, the wearer will notice a fruitier For Him side to the fragrance as heart notes of blackcurrant bud and green tea come through as heart notes. Because We used expensive musk and sandalwood to give sbandthe fragrance longevity and a mature finish. I get so many compliments when I wear it. Boyfriend How did you get into designing fragrances? Couple I started making soy wax candles at home, k you Before Funny I had a successful career in financial services. It did nniversary not make me happy; on the contrary, the drudgery of 9-5 was making me depressed. I initially started tulations Owen Drew as a hobby, selling scented candles agement at craft fairs and gifting to friends and family. My products were so well loved that I was able to quit r Thank my career and follow my passion and I’m so thrilled I did. Perfume has always been an obsession of k Cheeky mine. I am so happy to be following my dream and Wife bringing other people joy with my creations. ns For Him

It is a rather complicated process to be honest. I was able to launch Owen Drew from my home by making candles in my kitchen with supplies I sourced online for under £50. Bringing a perfume to market is much trickier and requires far more expertise. We have worked in conjunction with some of the finest perfumeries in Grasse in France which have been doing this for hundreds of years. They source the finest and most expensive raw materials to create the scent and almost everything is done by hand. The end result is quality which speaks for itself. Which is your favourite perfume? I adore PLATINUM but our original Eau de Parfum will always have a special place in my heart. I designed it after my late Godmother, Nuala, who was so glamorous. She always wore her signature blend of Chanel No.5 and Chanel No.19 which she jokingly referred to as ‘Chanel No.24’. When I smell these fragrances together, it evokes such vivid memories for me because the area of our brain that stores memories is also linked inextricably to our sense of smell. I wanted to create something which Nuala would have worn in the 1980s – the so-called ‘Decade of Decadence’ – something which was powerful, luxurious and larger than life.

What is next for Owen Drew? We have an extremely busy year ahead of us. We are working on some new top secret fragrance collections as well as expanding our bath and body collection, which already includes soaps, hand washes and bath oils. The cornerstone of our business – our vegan soy wax candles – will also continue to be a priority of us as we release a new premium range with a view to being stocked in department stores. At the moment, we are still very niche and although we supply to over 40 other independent retailers, we are a small player in the scheme of things. Building our brand and increasing our awareness will be key in 2020. To find out more about Owen Drew:








Black Friday. One of the most important days for retailers worldwide. Huge discounts spark an equally large boost in sales, turnover and profits. In 2018, shoppers in the UK alone spent a whopping £5 billion on Black Friday deals.

One entrepreneur, however, decided to take a stand and put the planet considerably before making bigger profits. That entrepreneur is 22-year old Grace Beverley, the social media star and founder of sustainable activewear brand TALA. On 25 November 2019, Grace and her team took to Instagram to make their ‘BLACK FRIDAY ANNOUNCEMENT’. Instead of detailing delightful discounts, followers and customers were met with the message ‘Slow Down Fast Fashion’. Not only was TALA not offering any discounts, it actually closed for business on Black Friday. But why? “It didn’t make sense for us as a sustainable brand to be having a Black Friday sale,” Grace explains. “As well as providing people with an ethical option for their activewear, we also set out to educate consumers on the impact that their shopping has, so our Black Friday campaign was all about that.” TALA’s post explained that the fast fashion industry’s business model is based entirely on encouraging people to buy more. Cheap products, discounts, free next-day delivery, easy returns. But it creates 4% of the world’s waste. It’s designed to get you to buy more. Everything fits and love the product? Great, it’s cheap and you got it quickly. Doesn’t quite fit? No problem, return it and get your money back in no time. “Of course it was questioned

as a business decision,” Grace adds, “but ultimately, it set out to show who we are and where our priorities lie.” In the post, TALA said: ”We want to show you and the BIG brands that you don’t need to compromise - you CAN have amazing products that don’t cost the earth and avoid adding to the problems caused by fast fashion and multiplied by Black Friday. If a company can discount all their products by 30% upwards, there’s a reason. If they can still make money with huge discounts, there’s someone (or millions of people), sacrificing their quality of life so you can add another dress to the pile.” It’s been a whirlwind few years for Grace. She launched TALA while finishing her studies

as an undergraduate at Oxford University. But it’s not her first venture. Grace established herself as one of the UK’s leading young health and fitness influencers with her own fitness guides before launching B_ND, a range of home exercise equipment. Life as an entrepreneur has been a long-time coming. “I always loved the idea of having a business, but very much expected that to be later on in life,” Grace says.

“With TALA, I was particularly inspired because I realised that there weren’t activewear brands that I could comfortably support, due to them essentially being stretchy fast fashion. I realised that there was a huge gap in the market, both commercially and morally, for a company that matches the prices of similar activewear companies, but was sustainable and ethical. “We’ve been very lucky to experience a lot of demand based off my prior ventures. Being honest, each day I think ‘wow, we’re really getting big now!’, then two months later look back and laugh in comparison to what we’ve grown to be.” In October 2019, Grace was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year for London & the South East at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. It’s recognition that she says has had a significant impact. “It was my first award, so it was incredibly exciting for me! Being recognised for the businesses’ success just four months out of university was a huge deal for me, and has certainly helped my imposter syndrome!” Both Grace and TALA are still so early in their journeys, but based on the evidence so far, they have an incredibly exciting future ahead. For more information or to take a look at Grace’s products, please visit her websites: //



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FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD You don ’t now enough


y e r a n e Wh ge o t g n i o g

It is imposs


Someone already d

1 2

“When are you going to get a real job?” Entrepreneurs are often working 60 hours a week to avoid working 40, just because it doesn’t look like the traditional 9-5 doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard!

“Someone else already does that.” Successful entrepreneurs will research what they can do differently to be better than the competitors. Just because the market leader is successful it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a new way of working.




“It’s impossible.”


They will find a way to secure a yes, if not then they will keep working away at their goals until they achieve them.

The truth is, so many of the most successful companies of all time were doubted from the beginning. Disney was started in a garage!

“You don’t know enough.” Entrepreneurs are amazing creatures; they are the best people to know how to get what they want and know how to effectively arm themselves with the skills they need to be successful.


Oliver Bruce Media and Tech Entrepreneur

enshrined in Generation Z that being creative and producing video content is now cool! It really excites me how widespread video media has become. I remember in 2013, when PinPointMedia was formed, discussing video with businesses was hard, and actually selling it was even harder! I put this down to the fact that people and businesses had a fear of the unknown; text and pictures had worked well for so long. The fact is though, that Generation Z, whether they know it or not, are changing the world of marketing as we know it. “Not all content is good content”

Generation Z, Video Media and Diversification in 2020! Media and tech entrepreneur Oliver Bruce shares his 2020 predictions with GB Entrepreneurs Magazine. As someone born in the early 90s I have been lucky enough to experience the uptake and importance of video at exactly the right time in my life. Having lived and breathed the world of media for nearly a decade now, I like to think I know a thing or two about trends, topics and what makes effective media content pop. “Be a shepherd not a sheep” Over the last 12 months, I have been struck by how the world of professional video blurs evermore with that of hobbyist and amateur video content. 2020 undoubtedly is to be the year that businesses of all shapes and sizes need to really think about how they can utilise, stand out and differentiate themselves more than ever before. In 2019, out of the top 10 most downloaded free apps, seven were related to video creation. TikTok set the world alight, amassing 80 million downloads in the 12 months to Christmas, becoming the latest unicorn to hit the market. TikTok, it is safe to say, has


Companies and brands need to ensure they don’t become complacent with distributing average content. Understanding that not all content is good content is absolutely key to owning this fastpaced world. Instructing and working alongside a creative agency with the knowledge, infrastructure, and manpower to conceptualise, produce and distribute your content will be ever more important as we venture into a new decade. I say this as having the ability to pull on a multitude of resources and experience will far outweigh the immediate cost savings you may see from hiring in-house creatives or attempting to film content on an iPhone or a cheap camcorder. Yes, there is a time and a place for brands to post an amateur video shot on an iPhone. However, should a brand or business wish to produce meaningful, purpose driven content that delivers a return on their investment (ROI), amateur is not the way to go. The evolution of tech over the last decade has been immense and iPhones are now more powerful than computers were in the early noughties. This, however, doesn’t mean you can point, shoot and be left with something that will propel your brand or product into the stratosphere. “Collaboration is key” Arguably, the knowledgebase and understanding of the media world and what makes people tick is becoming ever more abundant. And yes, firms are starting to onboard creatives to work in-house on projects that they may otherwise have outsourced. For sure, in some instances this can work; an example may be when internal uniforms content is required. However, to grow a brand profile or generate sales, this is generally not the way to go.

“Generation Z, whether they know it or not, are changing the world of marketing as we know it.” Ultimately, the increased demand and accessibility of video is exciting. Businesses and brands will need to fundamentally diversify what content they distribute and how, whilst creative


agencies will continue to hire those from Generation Z who have grown up creating emotive video content and, as such, have the ability to creatively and commercially think of something inspiring, engaging and effective for your brand! Media and tech entrepreneur Oliver Bruce, who founded PinPointMedia - one of the fastest growing video production companies in the UK - six years ago, aged 19, shares his 2020 predictions with GB Entrepreneurs Magazine. PinPointMedia now boasts an array of clients from Ticketmaster to British Gas and it is this rapid growth that has seen PinPointMedia ranks in the top 5% of creative agencies in the country.

Should you have any questions for Oliver or the wider team, please email or visit:


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Great British Entrepreneur Awards



This list has been put together by The Great British Entrepreneurs editorial team. Do you think you should be featured or do you know someone who should appear on a future list? Get in touch with:


Kristina Salceanu Advent of Change

Ben Sadler Alive and Kicking

Kristina Salceanu is the founder of Advent of Change, a multi-product retailer centered around an advent calendar with a difference. Instead of chocolate or gifts, each window donates to a different charity.

Ben Sadler is the CEO of Alive and Kicking, the world’s only not-forprofit ball manufacturer. It creates jobs for disadvantaged people in sub-Saharan Africa to produce hand-stitched, quality balls.

Nat Mady Hackney Herbal

Mona & Shaz Shah Harry Specters

Nat Mady is the founder of Hackney Herbal, a social enterprise on a mission to improve people’s health and wellbeing through herbal tea. It runs a wide range of training, and mental wellbeing events and workshops.

Mona and Shaz Shah are the co-founders of Harry Specters, an award-winning chocolate company that provides free training and employment opportunities to young people with autism.

Gavin & Sally Murray Just-Ice

Sally Wilton Lexi Cinema

Gavin and Sally Murray are the founders of Just-Ice, a premium ice cream shop which gives employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking. It only uses fair trade and natural ingredients.

Sally Wilton is the founder of Lexi Cinema, the UK’s first social enterprise independent boutique digital cinema. Staffed by passionate, local volunteers, Lexi donates 100% of its profits to The Sustainability Institute.


Karen Williams Buddy Bag Foundation

Cemal Ezel Change Please

Meg Doherty Fat Macy’s

Karen Williams is the founder of Buddy Bag Foundation, a charity which donates luggage and supplies to children in emergency care. Each Buddy Bag contains toiletries, pyjamas, underwear and socks.

Cemal Ezel is the founder of Change Please, a coffee brand that tackles homelessness. It’s a social enterprise that is staffed by the homeless, to help the homeless. As well as giving them a job, they provide a London living wage.

Meg Doherty is the founder of Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise serving delicious food and dining experiences at supper clubs, events and offices in London. It uses its profits to fund a housing deposit scheme.

Hoda Judah Armani InHouse Records

Zakia Moulaoui Invisible Cities

Harun Master Jerry Bottle

Hoda Judah Armani is the founder of InHouse Records, a fully functional record label operating in prisons. It works with offenders in prison to aid rehabilitation and provide employment.

Zakia Moulaoui is the founder of Invisible Cities, a social enterprise that trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides in their own city. They run community events in the local area.

Harun Master is the founder of Jerry Bottle; reusable, steel water bottles. Profits are used to fund clean water projects in India and Tanzania. The bottle has the coordinates of the related water project on the bottom.

James McConnell & Hannah Henshaw Naturespy

Pranav Chopra Nemi Teas

Dr Mick Jackson WildHearts Group

Pranav Chopra is the founder of Nemi Teas, a fair trade loose leaf tea company that uses plasticfree, biodegradable packaging. It also offers employment opportunities to refugees.

Dr Mick Jackson is the founder of WildHearts Group, a portfolio of businesses creating global change. From office supplies to an awardwinning entrepreneurial programme, all profits go to its charity.

James McConnell and Hannah Henshaw are the founders of Naturespy, a social enterprise that seeks to reconnect people to local green spaces and wildlife, and aid wildlife research.



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JUST EAT UK FOUNDER RETURNS AS JUDGE David Buttress has rejoined the Great British Entrepreneur Awards judging panel for 2020. The former Just Eat CEO is both a former winner and judge with the Awards, and returns whilst in the midst of a new direction as chairman of rugby union region, the Dragons. David joined Just Eat in 2006 to launch its business in the UK and was appointed CEO in January 2013, leading it from startup to Europe’s largest tech IPO for more than 10 years. GBEA founder Francesca James said: “I’m delighted David has agreed to rejoin us on the judging panel this year after what was an incredibly important period as he began his tenure with the Dragons. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the panel, as well as a strong understanding of what it’s like to be a winner.”

FINALIST INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME Blues Matters, the UK’s leading blues music magazine, will be inducted into the European Blues Association Hall of Fame later this year. It comes after the publication, which was created by 2019 GBEA finalist Alan Pearce, was named Best European Blues Publication for a third year running at the European Blues Awards. Alan was named on the shortlist for the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award in the Wales region at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Manchester-based social media agency Social Chain has acquired five more businesses in a move that adds an estimated £50 million to its total revenue. The company - launched by Steven Bartlett and Dominic McGregor who were named Young Entrepreneurs of the Year for The North in 2017 - has taken a majority stake in online superfoods retailer KoRo, well-being supplement suppliers Solidmind, interior

decor company Urbanara, German digital marketing agency Conteam:below, and TV advertising agency Steve said the announcement “is one of many steps we intend on taking to further accelerate our growth in 2020. The industry should brace itself!”.


NORTH WEST WINNER SECURES £3.25M FUNDING She may be best known for giving others investment on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, but Sara Davies MBE has secured funding worth £3.25 million in a bid to expand her successful crafts retailer, Crafter’s Companion. The 2019 North East Great British Entrepreneur of the Year will use the funding to increase global sales and create 20 new jobs, taking its workforce to over 200. Sara created the company while still studying at York University, and now based in Newton Aycliffe, the business sells to more than 40 countries around the world through online, in-store and shopping channels. The funding announcement comes shortly after it revealed a hugely successful end of year results in which sales jumped 33% to £31.5m and operating profits rocketed 1200% to £2.38m.


FINALIST COMPLETES SOUTH POLE TREK Michael Tobin, a finalist from 2017, has completed a trek to the South Pole, raising more than £105,000 in the process (at the time of writing). The serial entrepreneur and philanthropist joined a team of 11 with The Lewis Moody Foundation to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. The 60 nautical mile endurance trek took the team across the Antarctic plateau to the Geographic South Pole in -40°C temperatures, 50kmh crosswinds and 24 hour daylight. Conditions were so extreme that one member of the team had to be rescued, suffering from hypothermia. Having built a successful entrepreneurial career, Michael is no stranger to taking fundraising events to the limit. He raised more than £100,000 by running 40 marathons in 40 days, and has also raised £150,000 by sleeping out in the city with a number of CEOs.










Women in Business: Successful Partnership and 2020 Vision Following the EU referendum in 2016, two young Italian business women started their own career consulting firm in London. Nearly four years later their adventure continues stronger than ever. Carla Ferrero and Laura Peli created Ni-Cons Consulting, a firm that offers career consulting to students of all ages and executive coaching to seasoned professionals and their teams. Their expansive international network and multilingual skills have allowed them to operate throughout the UK, Europe and China. With five spoken languages between the pair, this duo has travelled the world connecting, sharing and coaching students and professionals. Let’s start at the deep end. Will Brexit affect your business and your ability to run it? L&C - Brexit is certainly an unknown variable. We hope it will not affect our business in the UK or Europe. To reduce the risks, Laura gained British citizenship last summer while Carla is planning to do the same in 2020. How do students benefit from your career development advice? C - The job market is more competitive than ever and has increased the complexity of the recruitment process. Most students may get a CV revision from their career office, but rarely have the chance to sit down with a coach and discuss their objectives. Even simple questions like ‘what are your career goals?’ can be daunting to someone who doesn’t have the proper support or guidance. In my experience, students express a great deal of stress and insecurity about the job market. My previous work in China and the UK gave me wider perspectives as an international employer and recruiter. With this knowledge, I’m better able to relate to students and offer practical advice. Which types of companies need a coach? And what are some common challenges that companies have when they hire a coach? L - They come from an array of fields. Those that seek business coaching are those who take care of staff and are committed to professional

and personal development. Understanding different personalities and relationships in work can be challenging. I help businesses overcome these differences, advising clients to first focus on improving employee satisfaction and selfconfidence to boost productivity. I love clients that are eager to push their own limits, question themselves and grow as leaders. I’ve seen people grow in both personal and professional aspects while still holding strong to core values and supporting their staff. Coaching is such a powerful tool. To be a great coach, you need to have experience from the other side. I’ve benefitted from coaching myself and that is why I do what I do. What do you value about your job above all else? C - There is nothing greater than making a difference in someone’s life. When a student passes an interview or gains the courage to move abroad for an internship, I realise our hard work has paid off. Even seeing a change in someone’s demeanour and self-confidence is incredibly rewarding. What made you go into business together? L - I always say that Carla and I are like ‘yin and yang’. We are completely different in many ways, but are motivated by a common goal – to make a difference in people’s lives. We appreciate each other’s talents and encourage each other to pursue our own paths alongside Ni-Cons. C - I knew we would be perfect partners because we have different expertise, but the same passions and values. What are the three most important tips you would give to business partners about starting company? C - Make sure you have the same values and vision. No partnership is perfect — be ready to compromise (but not on vision or values). Complete trust is essential. L - Goals, values and boundaries. Share the same goals and vision for your company. Make sure you have the same values. Set personal boundaries. What are your goals for 2020? C - To work on my personal branding by sharing more of my experience on social media; to expand our client portfolio to even more countries; and, to run a half-marathon. L - My main goal is to grow as a professional, which I am pursuing by enrolling in several businessrelated courses. I also want to spend more time on other projects supporting women’s empowerment, which I am greatly passionate about. To find out more about Ni-Cons Consulting: //



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The Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine brings together the incredible stories of entrepreneurs in the UK and shines a spotlight on some of the biggest issues facing them. If you want to be featured in the next issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine, please get in touch with the team at:


DOT MCCARTHY C R O N K S H AW F O L D FA R M Dot McCarthy has farming in her bones, having taken over her mother’s farm four years ago. Together, they are part of a growing cohort of women bringing change to agriculture. As part of Starling’s Great British Entrepreneur portrait series, Dot shares her entrepreneurial journey, her thoughts on women in agriculture and how she plans to run the whole farm with renewable energy. Read her story today at:

T H E S TA R L I N G P O R T R A I T S E R I E S Disruption is good. Challenging the status quo is what drives many entrepreneurs – and it certainly drives our partners at Starling Bank. The Portrait Series spotlights fellow British pioneers of purpose-driven change. Starling Bank; proudly supporting entrepreneurs.