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Enterprise Mentoring Awards 2015
Enterprise Mentoring Awards 2014
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Enterprise Mentoring Awards 2015

This year's Mentorsme Excellence in Enterprise Mentoring took place at the Digital Catapult Centre on the 17th of November.

Photos from the evening

   

   

   

   

   

   

   
       
 

Excellence in Start-Up Award

 

Winner - Marketingmaker Ltd

Cleo Morris is a budding entrepreneur who was keen to establish her start-up business Marketingmaker Ltd, a UK-based company located in central Birmingham.

Marketingmaker specialises in both online and offline marketing and advertising, strategy, campaigns, branding and website production. Cleo’s clients are self-employed, charities, start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses. With expertise in marketing and advertising they are able to to increase business brand awareness, social presence, sales, customer acquisition, loyalty and retention.

Oliver Morris, a Lloyds bank mentor, was matched to Cleo by Mentor Manager Christine Dryden at the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs. Oliver had a good deal of experience with start up businesses and he was very interested in supporting the fledgling start up. From the outset, Oliver has supported Cleo’s determination to build a sustainable business and help her to understand the financial aspects of running a business.

As a result of mentoring, both Cleo’s operational efficiency and revenue have increased. Having defined with Oliver the best client acquisition strategy, she secured her first customers. A reduction in lead-times in relation to client acquisitions, has allowed Cleo to develop a customer retention model that ensures a satisfied client base, leading to repeat business. Today, Cleo confidently pitches for work and has a detailed understanding of how healthy finances underpin good business. Sales went from zero to several thousand pounds per month, with a 40% sales increase forecasted over the next 12 months.

Website: www.marketingmaker.co.uk

  

Other nominees

   

 

Lauren Psyk

Lauren Psyk is a Brighton based photographer covering Sussex, London and the South East. The challenge facing Lauren was huge – her business needed to get off the ground. However Lauren was very low on confidence and had limited resources. She had no clients, she had minimal photographic skills and experience.

Simon Callaghan is a successful photographer working across the UK and internationally. He has been working with Lauren Psyk since July 2014 and helped to take her photography business from small start-up to an award winning firm providing services to national organisations.

As a mentor Simon has a very positive ‘can-do’ approach. He is able to instil positivity and confidence. Hugely motivational and full of energy, he is always constructive with his feedback. He is an active listener, generous with his time and has excellent business acumen.

The initial objectives for the mentoring relationship were to support the completion of a business plan for Lauren to assess the viability and start the business.

However, given that both mentor and mentee were photographers, the mentoring session extended beyond just the business plan and took a more holistic approach to establishing the business – setting practical objectives to help Lauren build her confidence as well as her experience.

Simon recognised that his mentoring needed to support Lauren develop her business skills as well as her confidence. His mentoring support involved inviting Lauren to attend events with his own clients, plus supporting her to prepare for some of her earlier commissions.

This has been in addition to regular one-to-one support and guidance, detailed business support (for example on business planning, marketing, workflow and client management) and being at the end of the phone if required. His guidance has helped with making decisions on the right commissions to accept and to value the skills and experience she is offering.

Lauren now has a successful photography business, regular clients, a diverse portfolio and significant professional experience. Her turnover has grown by 350% in the past 12 months.

Simon’s mentoring has been inspirational and Lauren’s business would not have developed and grown without his mentoring support.

Website: www.laurenpsyk.com

 

Once Upon a Bus

Conceived by Arti Sharma Grey and Matthew Grey, Once Upon a Bus has been launched to celebrate the traditional storytelling craft with entertaining, educational sessions on a beautiful customised double-decker bus. Specially developed to allow young people to enjoy and explore the magic of storytelling.

John Bottomley is an experienced Senior Manager within engineering who has held Director level positions both in the UK and internationally. John is passionate about customer satisfaction and is a trained business coach with experience of working with start-ups, developing businesses and advising on innovation.

Upon their first launch the company were offering multiple services to diverse audiences. Once John came on board as the mentor he helped to refine and pare this down, and it was soon realised that the key market was actually schools. John has helped Arti and Matthew to understand areas of their business that they were not confident with before. He has guided them to explore areas which could add extrfinancial benefits to Once Upon a Bus, and these have already paid off.

Once Upon a Bus say the following about John: “He is a great sounding board and a great third party influence in a family based business. John is incredibly motivational – we always aim to ensure tasks are completed by the next time we see him. This gives us regular targets with which to explore new revenue opportunities and ideas that add value to our brand.”

Website: www.onceuponabus.com

 

Excellence in Scale-Up Award

 

Winner - B-Dacs Air Conditioning Services

B-DACS is a family-run air conditioning company based in Glasgow, providing air conditioning and ventilation services, including installation, maintenance and repairs. Dianne Drummond and her husband Brian had no clear objectives of what they wanted to do in terms of growing their business. They felt that having someone as a sounding board could assist them with getting a strategy in place for growth and setting goals to move the business forward.

Mike O’Connor was matched as a mentor to the business. A Business Director with aerospace maintenance firm Vector Aerospace, he has an incredible track record of performance in areas of project management, change implementation and management, cost reduction and efficiency improvements, operations, technical, commercial, sales, with a clear focus on delivering business results through his personal leadership.

Dianne met with Mike once a month and found these sessions very thought provoking and challenging. Mike would ask questions about the business’s strategy or the markets it operated in. Mike also helped Brian in project planning, which has made him more effective in the business and has freed up time for growth and new projects.

Dianne says: “Mentoring was a great checking mechanism, and as a result of it we changed the structure of the business, so that Brian could focus on getting the business in and obtaining contracts, allowing our newly appointed project manager to run the projects once they were in.

Before going into mentoring we were turning over £500K, and in the last two years that has doubled to £1m. We definitely wouldn’t have increased our sales revenue as much without the support of our mentor, and profits are now at around 25%.”

B-Dacs now has 14 employees, up from six before receiving mentoring, and has moved office to larger premises.

Website: www.bdacs.com

  

Other nominees

   

 

Urban Guild

Urban Guild is a group of restaurants, hotels and cafes in and around Bournemouth and includes a beach front bar, café and restaurant. Urban Guild had already grown quickly and the owner Mark Cribb felt it had perhaps grown too quickly and he was not in full control.

The business is exceptionally seasonal and Mark was concerned that he had borrowed too quickly and expanded too far and that winter losses could be dangerous for cash flow and survival.

Martin Spooner, a self-employed entrepreneur since 1984, was paired as a mentor for Mark. With a strong practical and management background in the hospitality industry, having run his own restaurant and recently work in the marine, film and finance industries. Martin brings a fresh and professional approach to mentoring.

As a result of the mentoring sessions Mark began to understand better the complexities of his seasonal business. By focusing on the right issues Mark realised that to even out the peaks and troughs of seasonality more, rather than less expansion, may be necessary. HR issues came and went along the way, cashflow, raising additional funds, branding, target customers and most areas of running a business came up at some point during the mentor/mentee journey.

The approach worked. When Martin began working with Mark he had two businesses turning over £2.2 million per annum. In the period they have worked together Mark has grown from two to four venues, rebranded and positioned the business, grown turnover to £4.5 million and employs 150 staff in peak season.

Website: www.urbanguild.co.uk

 

Bubbahub

Bubbahub is “an affordable baby-safe front room space where you can meet old friends, make some new ones, exchange ideas, buy and sell preloved clothes, toys and equipment, pick up a beautiful gift for your bubba, or simply chill out with a gourmet coffee.”

Trevor Fitsall volunteered for the bank mentoring programme in early in 2014. Since then Trevor has taken on a number of mentoring assignments ranging from a food and drink establishment to property management and letting companies.

The Bubbahub partners asked for a mentor to help facilitate their thinking, and to challenge them when discussing potential options and activities. Trevor was matched with Bubbahub and the mentoring sessions took place initially on a monthly basis at the Bubbahub premises after hours, often for 3-4 hrs due to the value being derived. Specific topics were discussed, actions agreed, and targets set and reviewed. The partners and Trevor built up a strong professional working relationship, which has continued to this date.

The focus was initially helping with the short-term issues, including production of summarised sales and profitability analysis.

Mentoring focused on challenging the product mix and service offering, with the aim of increasing the spend from price sensitive customers. Mentoring also concentrated on facilitating strategic thinking. The partners reviewed their strategy, priorities and customer offering.

Bubbahub’s business performance has increased steadily – turnover has now approximately quadrupled with a pro rata return on gross and net profitability.

Website: www.thebubbahub.co.uk

 

Excellence in Export & Innovation Award

 

Winner - Gadget Hunter

Rokono is a trade name of “Gadget Hunter”, operated by James Carr in Torbay. James founded the business and has developed his own operating model. Gadget Hunter is an online business which sources and brands personal audio devices such as earphones and “donut” speakers. Sales are achieved directly via James’ website and via Amazon. Rokono positions itself as a high quality personal audio brand in the UK and overseas.

Tim Burden works for Lloyds Banking Group in a specialist role and volunteered in 2013 for the bank. During this time Tim has mentored 10 small companies. Gadget Hunter / Rokono is one such example.

Early mentoring discussions with James identified opportunities to upgrade the Rokono website by making it easier for his customers to buy. Additionally, the discussions identified the need for Rokono to regularly source new items to his product range to keep online buyers returning. Rokono currently has a repeat purchase rate of over 10%. The mentoring discussions also led to actions to better engage with Rokono’s current customer base, to identify new product opportunities, and to establish a feedback mechanism on Rokono’s current product range.

As discussions progressed, the mentoring sessions focused on international markets, helping James identify international growth opportunities and managing associated risks. This helped, as exports are now being made to several countries, predominantly Italy, Germany and the USA, with further opportunites in Spain, Canada and Mexico.

Website: www.rokono.com

  

Other nominees

   

 

Medincle

Medincle, an online medical spell checking tool, arose from a business necessity by two pioneering undergraduate doctors; Niels Leadholm and Richard Purcell – who needed a bespoke spell checker that could verify complex medical terms and drug names to check their assignment papers. Standard office spell checkers failed to do this. Since no suitable product existed in the UK, Medincle was born.

Duncan Webster works for Lloyds Bank and volunteered for the bank mentoring scheme in 2013. He has since intensively mentored five small companies, provided specialist mentoring support to a further two and on hand mentoring support. Medincle is one such example.

As a start-up, Medincle wanted mentoring support to help raise the visibility of their business and market their product. Mentoring discussions focussed on:

         
  • Positioning the product and bringing it to a mass market;
  •      
  • Raising the visibility of Medincle; and
  •      
  • Focusing on opportunities for growing Medincle further.
  •    

Niels and Richard built their business from scratch, sourcing over 70,000 medical terms and complex drug names. They also created a website to sell their bespoke spell checker, all whilst completing their studies, graduating and practicing as medical doctors.

To date over 10,000 Medincle licences have been sold and large demand for the product has been identified overseas as well as in other medical sectors such as veterinary and dental.

Medincle wishes to emphasise the invaluable contribution that Duncan’s mentorship has made. Their meetings have and continue to provide a clear structure through which they can gauge company progress, to set objectives and ultimately drive growth. This process has allowed Medincle to witness an exponential growth in sales, turnover, users, and product reach.

Website: www.medincle.co.uk

 

Planbee Ltd

Planbee is an ethical, sustainable eco-innovation business. It provides a fully managed beehive service for corporates, individuals and communities. Planbee is a solution for organisations to enhance their sustainable responsibilities.

Warren, the business owner, felt that being the owner of a small business you are always at the coal face, and it can be a lonely journey and it’s not always easy to see the potential mistakes you can make or the opportunities available.

He therefore sought a mentor and Mike, a prior MD for Tennants Caledonian Breweries UK Ltd, was seen as a perfect match.

Mentoring meetings covered the whole spectrum regarding taking the business forward through developing the business, product lines, financial processes, the marketing of product offering, and breaking in to new international markets. Mike’s support was instrumental in helping Warren develop a new mead product and a new craft beer.

Planbee are also now working at moving into export markets in the Middle East and China for their honey. Mead has long lagged behind in spirits, beer and wine, but surprisingly it is now making a comeback.

The support Mike has given has also allowed Planbee to sell to more business sectors including now supplying one Highland estate with 150 hives over the period when rapeseed flowers (April-June) resulted in an estimated yield increase of 15-22%.

Website: www.planbeeltd.com

 

Excellence in Digital Enterprise Award

 

Winner - Medincle

Medincle, an online medical spell checking tool, arose from a business necessity by two pioneering undergraduate doctors; Niels Leadholm and Richard Purcell – who needed a bespoke spell checker that could verify complex medical terms and drug names to check their assignment papers. Standard office spell checkers failed to do this. Since no suitable product existed in the UK, Medincle was born.

Duncan Webster works for Lloyds Bank and volunteered for the bank mentoring scheme in 2013. He has since intensively mentored five small companies, provided specialist mentoring support to a further two and on hand mentoring support. Medincle is one such example.

As a start-up, Medincle wanted mentoring support to help raise the visibility of their business and market their product. Mentoring discussions focussed on:

       
  • Positioning the product and bringing it to a mass market;
  •    
  • Raising the visibility of Medincle; and
  •    
  • Focusing on opportunities for growing Medincle further.
  •  

Niels and Richard built their business from scratch, sourcing over 70,000 medical terms and complex drug names. They also created a website to sell their bespoke spell checker, all whilst completing their studies, graduating and practicing as medical doctors.

To date over 10,000 Medincle licences have been sold and large demand for the product has been identified overseas as well as in other medical sectors such as veterinary and dental.

Medincle wishes to emphasise the invaluable contribution that Duncan’s mentorship has made. Their meetings have and continue to provide a clear structure through which they can gauge company progress, to set objectives and ultimately drive growth. This process has allowed Medincle to witness an exponential growth in sales, turnover, users, and product reach.

Website: www.medincle.co.uk

  

Other nominees

   

 

Ammba Digital

Ammba Digital works with its customers to develop unique ways to present content online whether that be through archive images, film, text-based resources or audio. Ammba faced multiple challenges. It was shifting from a consultancy to product-based business and needed support with commercialising products it was developing.

Ammba hoped that the mentor could help this transition and provide a focus on strategy as well as share expertise and experience. The mentoring sessions were engaging and challenging, evolving into information sharing and discussions during monthly meetings as well as over email.

Mentor Ketan Makwana is a highly experienced businessman. He has great technical knowledge and practical experience of scaling and growing businesses. He is charismatic and practical, and able to listen carefully to businesses issues and draw from his experience in order to guide companies.

Ketan helped Ammba in a number of practical ways. Real world examples were used to aid understanding as well as relate the business theory to personal experience of the challenges the business was facing.

The mentoring has resulted in the business being more focussed on its products and grouping them into marketable segments. It has helped the business understand its markets and produce a targeted and focussed business plan with measurable KPIs. Since mentoring began Ammba have increased their turnover by 40% and have pipeline consulting contracts of £10,000 and product sales/renewals of £50,000.

Website: www.ammba.co.uk

 

CarLease247.com

Paulo wanted to create his own online car leasing business for small businesses from scratch. There were various tasks to complete, not least the transition from his role as Director of Fleet Consultancy Services at Lombard. He also needed to secure Financial Conduct Authority approval, find appropriate data sources, and access legal and advisory support.

Keith Boxley is a bank mentor based in the West Midlands. With over 30 years’ experience as a relationship director, Keith continues to work with start ups and SMEs. Keith is an extremely warm and approachable person who demonstrates an open attitude to mentoring. He is non-judgemental, highly empathetic and is able to focus on the very real needs of the individual.

The two men worked together to create a ‘SMART’ time frame within which Paulo could work towards completing his business plan and applying for his FCA licence. Simultaneously, Paulo developed his website. This process was complex, as an innovative website was being developed to give the site its unique position in the market place.

The web site is designed to give small business’s in the UK a simple way of leasing cars. It is the only site in the UK that compares lease providers giving end users competitive rates, allows users to compare up to three vehicles side-by-side, add colours and options and then order the vehicle online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also calculates company car tax for the cars being compared, saving the site users time and effort. www.carlease247.com is the product of these efforts.

The site’s proposition is so unique that now a large UK dealer group has approached Paulo and plans are in place for a white label version of the site to be developed. Additionally, the now profitable business has plans in the pipeline for recruitment.

Paulo’s projected turnover for April 2016 is £50,000 with 1 new member of staff and 2 more new members of staff and premises by September 2016.

Keith`s own challenge was to witness the pressures Paulo was facing, in running a business from home. He dealt with this by listening not just hearing, focussing all of his attention on Paulo and helping him to see the positives along the way. For Keith this has been a real breakthrough and he knows he’s become a better listener with his bank customers and colleagues.

Website: www.carlease247.com

 

Best Mentor Award

 

Winner - Simon Callaghan

Simon is a successful photographer working across the UK and internationally. As a mentor, he has a very positive ‘can-do’ approach. He is able to instil positivity and confidence. He is hugely motivational and full of energy. Simon is always constructive with his feedback; he is an active listener, generous with his time and has excellent business acumen. The challenges facing his mentee, self-employed photographer Lauren Psyk, were huge.

Her business needed to get off the ground. Lauren lacked confidence and had limited resources. She had no clients, and she had limited photography skills and experience. Occasional mentoring meetings have been in addition to regular one-to-one support and guidance, detailed business support (such as business planning, marketing, workflow and client management) and just being at the end of the phone if needed. Simon’s guidance has helped Lauren to make decisions on the right commissions to accept and to value the skills and experience she is offering and turn her start-up idea into a sustainable business.

Website: www.simoncallaghanphotography.com

 

Best Bank Mentor Award

 

Winner - Denise Kay

Denise responds to and works with mentees effectively. It is clear that she actively listens and reflects during the process. She is a dedicated and motivated individual who contributes positively to the mentee. She is proactive and reliable and always looks for a solution to any hurdle.

By way of example, Denise has worked with Jo Griffiths – BJ Upholstery since August 2014. Meeting on a monthly basis, Denise used open ended, challenging questions to prompt the mentee to reflect on actions at each meeting. An email report back tool of items of discussion and action list was useful. They worked with colour coded action lists that they both understood and agreed how to use in the business planning. Denise used “active listening” skills, analytical skills and communication skills in the mentoring. This resulted in Jo feeling more comfortable dealing with customers and growing her business.