Our third Entrepreneuring Awards is an opportunity to celebrate all that’s been achieved since NatWest first welcomed 80 entrepreneurs into the Brighton Entrepreneurial Spark hatchery.

12 stayed on for an additional 12 months following the completion of the core six month programme, and when they ‘fly the coop’ it will be a bittersweet moment for all of us who have been working so closely with them – watching their businesses grow and witnessing their amazing development as entrepreneurs.

NatWest and Entrepreneurial Spark, along with our other partners KPMG, Dell EMC and Pinsent Masons, have achieved some fantastic results over the past 18 months:

• Helped over 260 businesses in Sussex to grow and scale

• More than 200 jobs have been created through our partnership with Brighton and Sussex University apprenticeship and intern programmes

• Over £5m investment has been raised by our businesses and through our relationship with valued mentors and investors

• Total turnover of the businesses involved has increased to around £10m The Entrepreneurial Spark programme is designed to assist not only early stage start up businesses, but those who have been in business for a few years and need help with getting to that next stage of growth and investment.

We are looking forward to welcoming another 40 businesses into the hatchery this month.

MELANIE LAWSON

Founder of Bar Biology

www.barebiology.com

A luxury Omega 3 health supplement brand sold online and through premium retailers.

What has been your overriding impression and memory of the Entrepreneurial Spark experience?

Energy and drive to grow and succeed. There is a relentless drive forward and during tough times, the support was always there. I’ve also had great fun and many laughs, especially with Jim Duffy and my enabler Mandy.

ESpark offers many benefits, which aspect has been the most useful to your business?

The biggest benefit has been the networking and raising of my personal profile. I also won two awards totalling £14,000 which was an incredible boost to our cash flow.

How has the business grown in the last 18 months?

Bare Biology has grown from being a one-woman band turning over less than six figures, to a business with several employees, a PR agency, a digital agency, new offices and the turnover has increased six-fold.

Have you changed the direction or focus of the business as a result of ESpark?

No, but I have become more focused on working ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ the business – realising the importance of building a team. I’m now in the process of recruiting for four roles.

Where is the company now and where do you see the company in 12 months, and in five years?

The company is very much in scale-up and in 12 months I see our turnover doubling again, a new product launch and a team of six full time employees. In five years I see us as the leading luxury

Omega 3 and health supplement brand in the UK, with a strong international presence and annual turnover well above £5 million.

What support have you received from NatWest? And how has it benefitted your business and you as an entrepreneur?

NatWest has provided training at Entrepreneurial Spark on things like cyber security, recruitment and cash flow. I’ve also received lots of PR support and opportunities, networking and introductions.

KATHERINE SWIFT

Founder of OMGTea · www.omgteas.co.uk

A powerful and healing Organic Match green tea, containing the highest level of antioxidants.

What has been your overriding impression and memory of the Entrepreneurial Spark experience?

It’s made my entrepreneurial journey so much more exciting and definitely fast-tracked my business in a friendly, collaborative working environment. I have met, and will stay in touch, with some really fabulous people.

ESpark offers many benefits, which aspect has been the most useful to your business?

The business network provided through sponsors such as NatWest; the mentoring and the collaborative working environment and access to a fantastic pool of potential investors.

How has the business grown in the last 18 months?

Turnover has increased tenfold and OMGTea is now stocked in approximately 50 stores. We have secured almost £100,000 investment to enable new product development and to help scale the business.

Have you changed the direction or focus of the business as a result of ES?

No, but I have become a better business operator and accelerated my business significantly as a result.

Where is the company now and where do you see the company in 12 months, and in five years?

OMGTea is becoming recognised as the go-to matcha brand for the UK. In 12 months we will have launched our premium ready to drink product which has the potential to catapult OMGTea onto the global market. We will also have had more research published, further validating the amazing health benefits of matcha. In five years, well, watch this space…

What support have you received from NatWest? And how has it benefitted your business and you as an entrepreneur?

NatWest has provided many opportunities from essential business workshops providing access to key influencers, to facilitating investment opportunities, not to mention providing the prize money for the coveted awards at the #GODOENTAWARDS.

STEVE KNIGHT

Founder of Knightsbridge Search · www.knightsbridgesearch.co.uk

A unique executive headhunting operation within the IT Service, IT Consulting and SaaS markets.

What has been your overriding impression and memory of the Entrepreneurial Spark experience?

The overriding memory of Entrepreneurial Spark is the change in myself and Knightsbridge Search over the past 18 months, continuously pushing you out of your comfort zone instils confidence in yourself and clarity on your business.

ESpark offers many benefits, which aspect has been the most useful to your business?

The most useful part of my journey has been NatWest. Since joining I’ve switched my business banking to NatWest and taken on a factoring facility, the cash flow contributed significantly to growth enabling me to take on subcontractors to deliver projects for my clients.

How has the business grown in the last 18 months?

My turnover has increased by 100% since joining Entrepreneurial Spark and I’ve landed several major tier 1 clients. I entered Entrepreneurial Spark with an idea, I leave Entrepreneurial Spark with a business.

Have you changed the direction or focus of the business as a result of ESpark?

We have changed significantly over the past 18 months. Knightsbridge Search at its core is a specialist recruitment business, however now providing analytics skills on demand we have partnered with one of the Big 4 consultancies to provide analytics skills and consulting services.

Where is the company now and where do you see the company in 12 months, and in five years?

Over the next 12 months we plan to re-brand and grow to 30 people on project delivery. In five years we aim to be the industry’s go-to company for analytics skills and project delivery.

NICKY CHISHOLM AND SARA GUIEL

Founders of The Mumpreneurs Networking Club

www.mumpreneursnetworkingclub.co.uk

Business Networking Club for Mumpreneur lead business, specialising in running business networking events, twitter hours and special events

What has been your overriding impression and memory of the Entrepreneurial Spark experience?

It’s not for the faint hearted! We have had many high spots and I don’t mind admitting several low spots. But we like being challenged and pushed as it has made the business leaner, more profitable, and more creative.

ESpark offers many benefits, which aspect has been the most useful to your business?

The fortnightly mentoring meetings provide a constant focus and challenge point. For us, our high point was working with the NatWest and StartUp Britain teams on their majestic Routemaster bus.

How has the business grown in the last 18 months?

We have had our best year ever and have doubled our turnover. We have employed two new members of staff, signed up 20 new Brand Ambassadors, hit a record 450 visitors in one week and had our very first meeting in Japan. We have also developed the Mumpreneur App.

Have you changed the direction or focus of the business as a result of ESpark?

Our focus has always been to provide a professional, dynamic and supportive business environment for the UK’s fast growing Mumpreneur community. We aim to expand our online resources in order to support Mumpreneurs that cannot attend the meeting and events. Our goal is to be the voice of the Mumpreneur community and be the number one port of call for business mum support.

Where is the company now and where do you see the company in 12 months, and in five years?

The company has just reached 20,000 visits to its meetings and events since we started - that’s a huge amount networking opportunities that we have created! Our aim now is to hit 50,000 and start 20 new groups.

What support and advice have you received from NatWest? And how has it benefitted your business and you as an entrepreneur?

NatWest has been a consistent source of knowledge throughout our time at Entrepreneurial Spark. The team directly impacted our plans and events in 2016 and we are planning more events for our members knowing we can call on their expertise for any conundrums.

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