Presenting the shortlist for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category at this year’s Growing Business Awards…
- Rich Martell (pictured), Floxx Media: Last year, UCL student Rich Martell created FitFinder, a lecherous website that helped students post pics and details of hot girls and guys they saw around campus. His “joke” website attracted 20,000 visitors in its first weekend. By the time it was shut down (UCL fined Martell £300 for “bringing the university into disrepute” and threatened to expel him), it had received more than five million page views. His follow-up is Floxx. Same lechery, but now with other location services. Backers include former Dragon Doug Richard and Silicon Valley investor Kevin Wall. The 22-year-old graduate is now looking to convince experts from Silicon Valley that his latest app, called Spottd, is worthy of their consideration.
- Craig Le Grice, CoSkill: Craig Le Grice has worked with more than half of the FTSE 100 during his career in management consulting, consumer marketing and advertising. And he’s still only 26. Earlier this year, he set up London-based CoSkill – a next-generation consultancy which is “smarter than an advertising agency; more fun than a management consultancy; and speaks better Plain English than a technology firm.” He signed up his first client within two days of launch and now works with customers as far west as San Francisco and as far east as Singapore. The company will deliver 30 per cent profits in year one and employs ten people.
- George Graham, Wolf & Badger: George Graham shook up the retail landscape in 2009 with the launch of independent luxury retailer Wolf & Badger. The boutique in London’s Notting Hill sub-lets space to more than 70 up-and-coming designers and become a favourite with stylists and big-name retail buyers scoping out the hottest new labels. Last year, Graham’s company set up a pop-up store in Selfridges and collaborated with The Savoy Hotel to produce an exclusive jewellery range for retail in the hotel lobby. Graham’s aim: to build Wolf & Badger into a major international player in luxury fashion and design.
- Alistair Crane, Grapple Mobile: Alistair Crane, the 23-year-old chief executive of Grapple Mobile, has very big plans. Launched last year, the company is exploiting the booming business of mobile apps, helping brands such as adidas, Pfizer, Xbox, McDonald’s and Premier Inn to create a powerful mobile presence. With 30 staff in offices in London and Toronto, and backed by a slate of private investors, Grapple can tailor its services to suit any business and nearly any phone.
- Ning Li, Made.com: Investors including Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman and Bebo co-founder Michael Birch have pumped £2.5m into Made.com – the web-based furniture company launched by 28-year-old former investment banker Ning Li last year. Made.com can more than halve the price of contemporary furniture by cutting out the wholesaler and the retailer. The website showcases furniture designs and holds public votes, with the most popular designs going into production. Turnover is £7m and Li has his sights set on expanding into Europe.
- Anil Stocker & Charles Delingpole, MarketInvoice: Cambridge University graduates Anil Stocker and Charles Delingpole are the founders of MarketInvoice: the UK’s first marketplace for trading invoices. Their website gives small companies the chance to sell invoices from large clients to institutional investors looking for attractive returns on capital. The “eBay for invoices” site offers a number of advantages over traditional alternative finance – including faster cash advances, no contractual lock-in, no personal guarantees from directors and lower fees. Since its launch in February this year, Marketinvoice has channelled more than £1.5m of institutional funds to SMEs. Stocker and Delingport have been backed with £660,000 of seed finance from angel investors including Rumi Verjee, who brought Domino’s Pizza to the UK.
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