Interviews

Meet the Wonga Future 50 judges

4 min read

26 October 2012

The 2012 Wonga Future 50 - high-potential UK businesses triggering change in their market - will be revealed at a special Global Entrepreneurship Week event on November 14. Meet the people who had to make some tough choices...

We created the Future 50 programme in 2011 to identify, celebrate and support the next generation of UK growth busineses. With our new headline supporter, and rechristened the Wonga Future 50, we’re working with one of the UK’s most disruptive and challenging technology businesses, Wonga, to take the project to a new level.

Our objective is to become the definitive analysis of, and launchpad for, exciting early-stage UK businesses that are launching new products and services to trigger change.

That task requires some serious support and partners. After all, we’re hunting for businesses that can change the world. So in 2012, we are immensely grateful to an awesome group of judges who helped in the tough task of sifting the real challengers from the wannabes.

We’ll be unveiling the official Wonga Future 50 at a special Global Entrepreneurship Week event on Wednesday November 14, at the British Library Conference Centre. On the night, you’ll hear amazing stories of seriously ambitious new UK businesses.

For now, meet the crack team that we appointed to assess this year’s nominees:

  • Mark Sheahan is inventor-in-residence at the British Library Business & IP Centre. He specialises in plastic easy-open, tamper-evident, child-resistant dispensing closures for the packaging industry. He has not only designed, developed, patented and sold products but has also had his inventions taken up by major packaging producers, via licensing agreements, in the UK, US and recently Japan.
  • Dr Shai Vyakarnam is director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) at University of Cambridge Judge Business School. He is co-founder and director of AcceleratorIndia, sits on the board of Enterprise Educators UK and the UK India Business Council. Shaie co-authoredUnlocking the Enterpriser Inside! A Book of What, where and How! with Neal Hartman, senior lecturer in managerial communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management, aimed at “entrepreneurship educators”,  which was published in 2011.
  • Philip Letts is founder and CEO of blur Group, “the world’s leading b2b exchange operator”. One of the UK’s sharpest tech entrepreneurs, he recently led blur to an AIM listing – a rare occurence indeed in these days of meagre stockmarket activity. blur Group runs the world’s leading b2b exchanges, enabling tens of thousands of businesses to buy, sell and pay for projects online. They are the new and revolutionary way to source, procure and manage b2b business needs – and they are disrupting markets around the world. Philip is a serial entrepreneur in the technology sector, both in the UK and US.
  • George Graham is the founder and managing director of the fashion retail brand Wolf & Badger. He was named the CBI/ Real Business Growing Business Awards Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.
  • Harriet Hastings is the founder of Biscuiteers, a bespoke high-end biscuit-maker. Biscuiteers was voted “People’s Champion” in the Future 50 in 2011.
  • Greg Marsh is the founder of onefinestay.com, a service which turns homes into temporary hotels during the owners’ absence. onefinestay was a member of the Future 50 in 2011.
  • Dale Vince is the founder of Ecotricity, a green energy company based in Stroud specialising in selling and generating wind power. Vince was the CBI/Real Business Growing Business Awards Company of the Year in 2011.

The full unveiling of the Wonga Future 50, published with Real Business, will be made a special Global Entrepreneurship Week event at the British Library on Wednesday November 14.