Three of the West Midlands’ hottest business prospects were recognised at the inaugural
BQ Emerging Entrepreneur awards.
The BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner at The Great Hall, University of Birmingham, brought together around 150 entrepreneurs from across the region for a celebration of enterprise and to recognise some of the rising stars.
Cliff Dennett, of Soshi Games, which offers music games on Facebook and mobile, and Amrit Chandan and Scott Hardman, of Blue Vine Consultants, which provide marketing for sustainable companies, were named as the regional winners of the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur awards. They will now compete nationally for the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur
of the Year title later this year.
As well as the three winners, all shortlisted entrepreneurs shared their stories at the dinner on 25 June, with a roomful of investors, angels and potential mentors. They joined the BBC’s Ben Thompson on stage after entrepreneur Nick Holzherr – who starred on TV’s The Apprentice – delivered his keynote speech on the secrets of his success.
BQ had identified more than a dozen up-and-coming West Midlands entrepreneurs from reader nominations, and the winners were chosen by a judging panel which included Nick Holzherr, who now runs Whisk, Steve Dyson, editor of BQ West Midlands, Julie Summerell, boss of TR Fleet, and Jodie Cook, who runs JC Social Media.
Shortlisted entrepreneurs provided a written submission, which judges tested against various criteria linked to what are considered the essential aspects of entrepreneurial success.
Dyson, who chaired the judging panel, said: “Judges had a difficult choice to make as ‘emerging entrepreneurs’ sometimes means that visionary ideas have not yet brought in any revenue. But they did feel there were several contenders who had made a real business impact and, after some careful debate, agreed unanimously on the winners.”
On Cliff Dennett, of Soshi Games, the judges said: “Cliff should be celebrated as a brilliant winner. He has done some really cool things in an industry that seems really difficult to get into. He has shown a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, vision, leadership and heaps and heaps of resilience.”
And on Amrit Chandan and Scott Hardman, of Blue Vine Consultants, the judges said: “Amrit and Scott have demonstrated key traits of emerging entrepreneurs. Going through a PhD is a time of great complexity, and the fact that they have launched their business at this time is impressive. Judges were convinced that they both displayed a dynamic tenacity, passion and vision that will result in entrepreneurial success.”
Nicki Clark, chief operating officer of BE Group, which organised the awards, said: “The BQ Emerging Entrepreneurs Dinner was the last of four regional dinners and was quite simply inspiring. The Great Hall at Birmingham University is a fantastic venue and set the tone for the evening perfectly. The combination of great food and ambitious people with great stories left me, and I think all, really proud to be part of the Entrepreneurial community in the Midlands.”
The two winners will be among eight finalists from around the country who will be invited to attend the MADE 2014 Festival Gala Dinner on September 25 in Sheffield – part of a weeklong festival of inspiring entrepreneurship expected to attract 3,000 delegates from all over the UK. One of the eight entrepreneurs will then be recognised as the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.
Speakers at MADE 2014 include internationally renowned business experts and entrepreneurs such as Levi Roots, Doug Richards and Paul McKenna.
MADE, The Entrepreneur Festival is at Sheffield City Hall on September 24 and 25. Tickets are £48 (£24 concessions). For more information, visit www.madefestival.com