Sussex Business Times reports back on the Entrepreneurial Spark Awards in Preston Road Brighton, powered by NatWest

DSC_3042On the evening of Wednesday 18th January, the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery on Preston Road, Brighton became a hub of celebration, awarding big prizes and giving large praises to the most recent intake of Chiclets who have developed and grown their businesses in the last 6 months.

Powered by NatWest, partnered with KPMG, Dell and EMC, Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing business ventures. It aims to develop entrepreneurs with a #GoDo attitude, mentoring and supporting them to become pitch perfect – quite literally – and confident in how to grow their business.

We at SBT have covered a range of events, including these awards, before, and the impressiveness of the venture and the individuals working so hard within the hub hasn’t faltered. The latest awards evening was a huge success, more elaborate and exciting than ever before with all guests and Chiclets dressed to the nines in black tie attire.

Hosted at all 12 Entrepreneurial Spark Hatcheries across the UK, including to name a few, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Milton Keynes, a huge £280,000 in prize money was given away in one evening to entrepreneurs – £24,000 of that to Brighton based entrepreneurs.

DSC_3107Awards included: Entrepreneur of the Moment, #GoDoAcceler8 Award, #GoDo Prize and Chiclet Choice Award.

First up in Brighton was the #GoDo Award, awarded to the entrepreneurs who take action, seek challenges and make every day count, delivering impressive results using a #GoDo mindset. Nominees included RefSix, Fitta Mammo, Joosr and Shuttle, with the two winners Curtain Call and Hubbub, who were each presented with £3,000 to put towards their businesses.

We then had the pleasure of listening to the pitches of 8 of the Chiclets themselves. Businesses included: Billy’s Beach Hut, about her very lovely sounding candles; Simply VAT; Curtain Call, a very impressive and confident pitch about a platform for the theatre industry that emulates IMDB meets LinkedIn; Harlow and Fox; Gamely, the makers of Randomise; GoKid Music, which was refreshingly presented in song form; Trademark Brothers; and Victoria Green Ltd. The overall winners were Curtain Call and Simply VAT, who each received £1,000 for their businesses.

DSC_3129Next up, the #GoDo Acceler8 Award recognised the businesses that have made significant progress in the last six months by moving out of their comfort zones to make the most of every opportunity. £4,000 was up for grabs for two Chiclets, with nominees including Bonieri, Gamely, Invictus Recruitment, OMG Tea, Radar and Stephie Ann Design. The winners were Gamely and Invictus Recruitment.

Fiona Anderson, Entrepreneur Development Manager, interjected the prize giving with a speech that encompassed the poignancy of the event itself, how well the Chiclets had done over the past 6 months, what a privilege it had been to be involved over the past 18 months, and how well the hatcheries themselves were doing. In Brighton alone over the past 18 months has created over 200 jobs, 260 businesses, investment of £5 million and created a turnover of £10 million through the businesses that go through the hatchery scheme.

Equally, guest speaker, Christine Taylor, Founder and Creative Director of Choccywoccydoodah gave an inspirational talk on what it means to create and thrive in business. She highlighted how the most important thing in business is people, and how every entrepreneur should be doing what they are passionate about. It was a truly individual speech that captivated the room.

The Chiclet Choice Award was one that was nominated by fellow entrepreneurs. It recognises the Chiclet who demonstrates the greatest degree of return and support within their Hatchery: they mentor others, they take part in events, they use networking opportunities to grow their relationships with other businesses and business leaders, and they have a positive outlook on the experience overall. RefSix won the £1,000 up for grabs for all these things – a smartwatch and mobile app developed for referees by referees.

DSC_3274The last prize up for grabs was a whopping £7,000 for the Entrepreneur of the Moment: the main award of the evening. Entrepreneur of the Moment is awarded to the entrepreneur that Entrepreneurial Spark believes has built a viable new product or service which has the potential to gain international recognition. They must have shown sheer determination, dedication and an ability for identifying and capitalising on small opportunities that can return big results. For their unending desire to learn, positively disruptive nature and outstanding achievement, Simply VAT was the winner for the evening for creating a successful business worth over £100,000 for making VAT simple.

Entrepreneurial Spark CEO Lucy-Rose Walker said on the event: “I’m absolutely blown away by the quality and drive displayed by the entrepreneurs on this journey. Every award was fully deserved tonight and every entrepreneur winner or not, has grown and taken huge steps to becoming credible, backable and investable.”