On 24th June 2014 I attended the semi-final judging day for a brand new award in the National Business Awards line-up. This was the semi-final of the Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year Award, one of the key calendar entries in the International Festival for Business 2014.
St George’s Hall in Liverpool played its part as an elegant backdrop to the proceedings, which included short 3 minute pitches to the judging panel, live Q&A from the entrepreneurs, partners and media attending.
My attendance was made possible by leading VOIP provider to small and mid-sized businesses; Vonage. Visit their website to check how much you could cut from your monthly business telecom bills.
The Duke of York was in attendance, to watch the first round of pitches, offer his advice to the semi-finalists and share his thoughts on the state of entrepreneurism in the UK,
The impressive line-up of judges included Edward Wray (co-founder of Betfair and current board member of Funding Circle), Thea Green (Founder of nails Inc) and Vonage’s managing director Simon Burckhardt.
We were treated to a series of energetic pitches against the clock from a great mix of business founders. The speakers all focused on one thing – convincing the panel of judges that they have the credibility, success stories and winning traits needed to walk away with a place in the grand final. I personally feel that every entrants presented splendidly, and only one went over their strict 3 minute limit and fell foul of the host!
The ideas on show ranged from biodomes for schools, to exotic fruit. All the businesses were very active and had been trading for over a year.
My personal favourite semi-finalist was Kathryn Birch, who has created a highly automated website that puts expert translators around the globe in touch with those needing translation services. Translive Global produces algorithm-based quotes to give users an upfront idea commitment to cost which means both parties know what they’re agreeing to. It’s a mix of technology and human expertise that allows for the best of both worlds to re-vitalise an age-old industry.
What particularly impressed me was the calm and confident way Kathryn dealt with her presentation breaking down halfway through her session, forcing her to continue without her visual aid entirely!
The conclusion of the event saw the shortlist of five finalists revealed. I was delighted to see that Kathryn had clearly impressed the judges, and was on her way to the glitzy final to be held in Autumn at the annual National Business Awards evening alongside 4 other deserving candidates:
Emma Cerrone – Free:Formers
Alistair Smit – The Magic Thermodynamic Box
Ben Weaver – Outlook Publishing Ltd
Kathryn Birch – Translive Global
Jay Radia – Yieldify
I wish the entrepreneurs, winners and losers, the best of luck for the future. I’m sure they’ll remember this day for many years to come, and so will I!