Midland quartet honoured at Entrepreneur Of The Year final

FIRMS from the Midlands enjoyed success at the national finals of this year’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – taking home four of the nine awards announced.

However, the region failed to carry off the big prize of the night as Ambarish Mitra, founder and CEO of technology company Blippar, was crowned ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK 2016 overall winner’.

Marg Randles and John Woodward, founders of Staffordshire children’s nursery group Busy Bees, took home the Consumer Products and Services award during the ceremony in London.

Burntwood-based Busy Bees is the UK’s leading childcare provider for children aged three months to five years. Judges were impressed by their enduring entrepreneurial spirit, continued motivation and commitment to growth, which even extended to moving to Singapore to oversee their expansion.
William Chase, of Herefordshire-based Chase Distillery, was named winner of the Food and Drink category. Judges were impressed by his sheer determination and described him as a “serial entrepreneur” after developing the hugely successful Tyrells crisps business, before selling it on and starting Chase Distillery, which produces Britain’s only single estate potato vodka.
Mark Jones and Jeremy Taylor, of Coleshill-based Green Frog Power, won an ‘Emerging’ entrepreneur award. Green Frog provides the National Grid and other energy networks with back up reserve power on demand. The judges were impressed by their compelling story, continuous innovation, and the scale of their ambition.
Finally, Heather Penn and John Penn, of Redditch-based SSE Audio Group took home an award in the Business Products and Services category. SSE Audio Group hire, manufacture, install and distribute across a range of specialist audio and audio-visual markets. The judges described them as “one of the most respected companies in the field, having turned their hobby into a business by matching their undoubted technical expertise with true entrepreneurial spirit.” The judges also emphasised the fact the pair continue to innovate with ground-breaking technology and breaking into new markets.
Andrew Spence, partner and Midlands Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader at EY, said: “This is a strong year for the Midlands. It serves to demonstrate that dynamic and fast growing companies – and the people behind them – are vital to the region’s national and global competitiveness, and these awards rightly recognise their success.”

Ambarish Mitra was born in India and ran away from home as a teenager, living in a slum in New Delhi. While working two jobs, as a door-to-door salesman by day and at a tea stall by night, he won a nationwide business plan competition. The prize money funded the launch of his first business, Women Infoline, which gave free internet access to women earning below a certain wage.

At 21, Mitra sold the business and moved to the UK where he started three business ventures over the next ten years. His ‘lightbulb moment’ happened in a pub, after sharing a joke with Blippar’s co-founder, Omar Tayeb, about the Queen coming to life out of a £20 note. A few days later a prototype was created and Blippar was born.

The company now has 12 offices across the globe, including London, New York, San Francisco, Delhi and Singapore, with plans to expand.

Mitra will now go on to represent the UK at EY’s World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monaco next summer to compete with more than 50 other country winners for the global title.