Atom bank's Anthony Thomson with winner Leila Francis Coleman
Leila Francis Coleman’s Exeter-based business impressed the judging panel to win the overall prize at BQ’s National Entrepreneur Festival, powered by Atom bank.
More than three hundred people packed out the Boiler Shop in Newcastle, as 35 of the UK’s best up and coming entrepreneurs took to the stage to showcase their businesses and themselves.
Those entrepreneurs spanned the whole of the UK and represented a range of nationalities, backgrounds, genders and ages as they vied for the title of Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.
And it was London & the South’s Leila Francis Coleman of AquaPhysical who led the finalists to become the overall winner, with the award presented to her by Atom Bank’s Anthony Thomson.
“It's an amazing achievement to have won,” Leila said. “Listening to everyone's pitches has shown there are so many people out there putting so much into their business - I feel so privileged to have won. I can't believe it; I'm in shock!”
Those in attendance were also given the chance to cast their own vote, for the People’s Choice award. Luggage tags left in a suitcase next to the steampunk living statue were counted up, revealing the charismatic Urfan Ghukfam of Queens Qulfi had won the hearts and minds of those in the room.
Clare Framrose, Atom bank’s head of propositions, was part of the judging panel for the awards. She spoke of her honour at being involved: “The overall quality of the nominations was incredibly high and all judges were in awe of the expertise, determination and entrepreneurial spirit evidenced in the submissions.
“I was inspired and excited their stories – the integrity, knowledge, drive and bravery of so many of these individuals is truly admirable.
“The climax of the judging process was being able to attend the festival itself and to hear from each of the shortlisted entrepreneurs in person – this really brought their ideas and pioneering spirit to life and was a perfect way to recognise and celebrate their talent. A thoroughly inspiring and enjoyable event!”
BQ’s account director David Townsley said: “This year’s crop of entrepreneurs were some of the most diverse, creative, and imaginative people we’ve encountered.
“The entrepreneurial spirit, across the whole of the UK, is growing stronger and stronger as people embrace their ability to take control of their own lives and become their own bosses.
“We’re very grateful to Atom bank for powering the event for a second year, along with all of the other sponsors and supporters who made this event truly unique and wonderfully exciting.”
Craig McLeod, of festival supporters Naljets, added: “Many congratulations to Aquaphysical on winning! Aquaphyiscal is a great example of how the entrepreneurial spirit and originality can combine a fresh, creative way to create a better business which is a cut above the competition. There is no better way to run a business and we wish them every success for the future.”
The steampunk-themed evening took place in Newcastle’s Boiler Shop, a newly renovated building whose heritage is at the heart of the industrial revolution. The event will return in 2018.
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