Wednesday 17 Feb 2016 07:00

Emerging entrepreneurs' shortlist captures social returns

Seventeen entrepreneurs from England and Scotland have made the shortlist for the 2016 BQ Emerging Entrepreneur awards, and this year there’s a strong theme of social consciousness across the businesses.

With separate awards for Scotland, and England’s North East, Yorkshire and West Midlands all sponsored by Irwin Mitchell LLP, shortlisted entrepreneurs cover sectors from manufacturing through to digital, and food and drink to property.

The four finalists will be announced at a dinner in Leeds on 25th February. Hosted by the BBC’s Mark Easton, Josh Littlejohn of Social Bite will be telling those in attendance about his journey to be recognised as one of Scotland’s most prolific social entrepreneurs, and how he managed to get George Clooney and Richard Branson involved in his work.

BQ’s managing director, Bryan Hoare, said: “Every year we’re amazed with the standard of the entrepreneurs who are nominated for this award, and every year it gets harder and harder to shortlist just four businesses, which is why we’ve made some special mentions this year too.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well, and we’re so pleased to be able to highlight the stories of our emerging entrepreneurs this way, with thanks to our sponsors Irwin Mitchell and Bentley Leeds.”

Andrea Cropley, corporate partner at key sponsor Irwin Mitchell, told us: “Irwin Mitchell are delighted to sponsor the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur awards. Entrepreneurialism is the key driver to economic growth in the national economy, and celebrating success is an important part of making this happen.”

For the shortlisted entrepreneurs, a winner for each area will move forward to the national final. Those winners will be decided at the Emerging Entrepreneur’s Dinner, on 25th February 2016 in Leeds. Limited tickets for this event are remaining.

The shortlisted entrepreneurs are:

North East

Jules Quinn

The idea for the TeaShed came to Jules in Uni. Established in 2011, she now sells tea and 'bubble tea' ranges all over the world, being named in Forbes' '30 Under 30 in Retail'.

Jonathan Grubin

SoPost started in 2012, and has expanded from a way to send physical products to social IDs to become an international product sampling platform, boasting clients like L’Oreal.

Ben Staerck

Ben has grown the Furniture Clinic brand and concept hugely in ten years, expanding to establish the Handbag Clinic last year. The company remains firmly headquartered in Newcastle.

John Ryder exists to help employers better manage their relationship with their workforce, keeping them engaged, motivated, and productive.

One to watch

Owen Dixon of Best Student Halls

West Midlands

Michael Bruce

Purplebricks’ aim was to make the house buying experience positive and stress free by being at the forefront of change – focusing on the best interests of the customer.

Mike Brooman

Vanti is all about un-complicating technology. They create tailor-made technology that helps grow businesses, improve productivity, and save money.

Rosie Ginday

Rosie combines her love of indulgent macaroons with social enterprise activities, providing employment and training opportunities for unskilled youngsters.

Matt Dredger

Borroclub is a concept beautiful in its simplicity; to earn money allowing others to borrow household items – and more – from you in your local community. Less consumption, more sharing.


Joe Carnell

Joe’s UGOT brand of healthy, fast food is currently showcased at three major railway stations. Supporting a range of community projects, Joe employs 40 staff and is a regular school speaker.

Marelize Cohen

Wisher is an app-based platform which aims to bring giving to the world, making wishes happen for strangers across communities. So far, 1,200 wishes have been granted on the platform.

James Baird

Dynamic Networks, a splinter from a regional IT firm, was so-named because of James’ dynamism. It took less than two years for the company to double its turnover and make its own acquisitions.

Debbie Heald

Debbie is the MD of Heald Ltd, a manufacturer of hostile vehicle mitigation systems that aim to prevent targeted attacks on high profile sites such as embassies, airports and shopping centres.

Rebecca Zimmerman

One Day Creative connects children and learning through creativity, working to keep the young people they work with healthy, happy and safe.

One to watch

Carolyn Pearson of


Piers Bambridge

Evidence suggested the majority of consumers did not enjoy the process of acquiring a new car. Pike & Bambridge want to solve the issue of customer service in this sector.

Warren Bader

Warren became a beekeeper by chance, as a hobby. After a crowdfunding project, Plan Bee grew exponentially as a beehive management business, working to promote the plight of the honeybee.

Bruce Walker

WeAreTheFuture is an entrepreneurship movement, existing to inspire and support people to become entrepreneurs. From a classroom in Stirling, they now work in Europe, the US and Asia.

Graham Suttle

With a family history and background in the Irish pub game, Graham recruited two friends to begin pub, bar and restaurant business Kained Holdings with a specific look and feel.

One to watch
Philippa Christie of FIER Fashion