Startup businesses from across the North East battled it out on Wednesaday night at the If We Can You Can Challenge Live Final.
Over 150 people attended the event at BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary Art, with the 15 startups pitching to each table in the room.
Over dinner the guests chose Jigsaw Recovery Project, which aims to support young people to live independently after leaving local authority care, as the business with the biggest social impact. Storage Shepherd, which provides the opportunity to rent your spare space as storage for other people, was selected as the start-up with the Highest Growth Potential.
Attendees at the event included representatives from the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Brewin Dolphin, Mincoffs Solicitors, Entrepreneurial Spark/NatWest, and all five of the region’s universities.
Charlotte Windebank, MD of FIRST Face to Face and organiser of the If We Can You Can Challenge said: “The challenge gives start-ups the necessary confidence, contacts and publicity to take them to the next stage of growing their fantastic businesses. The quality of the shortlisted 15 truly represents the talent and innovation that is coming out of the North East.
“Thanks to all our partners and we can’t wait for the 10th anniversary next year.”
Max Haydon, founder of Storage Shepher, said: "Winning the highest growth potential award is hugely exciting for us. We have always believed that Storage Shepherd has huge potential and it was fantastic for this to be validated by so many people.
"This win comes off the back of winning the Virgin media VOOM tour and these two awards really give us the momentum to kick on and allow Storage Shepherd to reach its potential."
Terry Nelson of the Jigsaw Recovery Project said: “I am very proud of the work that the team and I at Jigsaw do in helping the young people we work with. I think winning this award is a great achievement.”
Colin Bell, business growth director at Growth Hub North East emphasised the impact of the If We Can You Can Challenge, saying: “The North East Growth Hub is right behind the If We Can You Can Challenge!
“In the North East we have around 600 High Growth Small Businesses, employing some 21,000 people, with a combined turnover of £2.4bn. We want to double this by 2024 and it’s initiatives like the IWCYC Challenge that will help us to do that.”
Bringing together a selection of the North East’s top businesspeople allowed the 15 startup finalists to impress, network and improve their business through connections made on the night.
Next year the If We Can You Can Challenge is set to return for its 10th anniversary.