Abubacker launched Pitchwell from her two-bedroom flat in 2004, trialling her new “product demonstration” programmes on seven shopping channels, as well as UK Gold and Sky Sports. She thought it would take three years to launch her own channel – but with £1.6m sales in Y1, she decided to take the plunge.
“Shopping is regarded as very ‘female’ but believe me, the industry is seriously male dominated,” she says.
“Not only was I the youngest person to launch my own shopping channel in the UK but I was also an Asian woman. I had pulled in profits of £160k but the banks still refused to fund me because I didn’t have enough experience of running a business. I was turned down two or three times. Eventually, I was backed by pub and packaging entrepreneur Peter Shalson.”
Abubacker has built Pitchwell into an £8.5m-turnover business. "I don’t think the pushy, gimmicky feel of a US-style infomercial works over here, so we use real demonstrators instead of TV presenters to give the slots a natural feel."
At last night’s glittering Asian Women of Achievement event, the judges praised Abubacker for “ticking all the right boxes”: "This is a business that will continue to grow fast," they said.
Model and businesswoman Elizabeth Hurley took to the stage to present the Entrepreneur of the Year award. “I’m scared of all the contenders for this category,” said Hugh Grant’s former squeeze. “What a formidable bunch of women!”
Speaking to Real Business after collecting her trophy, Abubacker paid tribute to her parents: “They arrived here from Kerala, India, in the sixties and had to work twice as hard to get ahead. My father had two jobs, working in a factory and as a cleaner. As far as my parents were concerned, there was no such thing as a ‘nine-to-five’. They instilled in my five older brothers and me a great work ethic.