Home Business Awards & Achievements Venturefest’s 2016 prize winners urge businesses in North West to enter £40,000...

Venturefest’s 2016 prize winners urge businesses in North West to enter £40,000 competition

The top three entrants of last year’s competition are encouraging businesses in Greater Manchester to enter this year’s Innovation Showcase competition.

Organised by Business Growth Hub, part of the Manchester Growth Company, the competition is one of the highlights of the Venturefest Manchester 2017 event.

The competition has two awards – one for the best start-up business (trading for less than three years) and another for the best scale-up business (three or more years). Each award comes with a £20,000 business support package for the winner.

It’s free to enter, and all a business needs to do is fill in a short online form on the Venturefest Manchester website. If shortlisted for either category, the business will then receive pitching advice and give a short presentation at Venturefest Manchester, which takes place at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Thursday 14 September.

The three businesses have blossomed since last year. For example, the digital agency Nothing But Epic won last year’s Innovation Showcase for their Padoq app, which allows users to create functional social communities online.

Nothing But Epic’s managing director, Mike Anderson, said, “Off the back of the competition we’ve had successful validation of the Padoq product. We’ve done a round of investment, and we’ll be launching the product in the autumn.

“The agency is going well – we hired three new staff within three months [of winning the award], and we’ve starting winning national accounts. Just last week, we were named a Rising Star of the UK tech scene by [business magazine] Business Cloud too.”

Entering last year’s Innovation Showcase competition has also been beneficial for the top two runners-up as well.

Second-placed Swifty Scooters, co-founded by Camila and Jason Iftakhar, design and manufacture adult scooters and are particularly known for their folding commuter scooter SwiftyONE.

Jason Iftakhar, said, “Since Venturefest 2016, team Swifty has taken on new staff and is growing. We’ve had a significant increase in revenue this year; our hard work, passion and determination is paying off, and it often feels like we have only just started.

“With the help of Business Growth Hub, we’ve also completely overhauled our website, and will be launching in multiple currencies, languages and incorporating for the first time a B2B trade account for our retailers and resellers to order direct from our Manchester warehouse.”

Finally, speaking directly to those thinking of entering the Innovation Showcase, Jason said, “It’s a great platform to show your company to a whole range of business leaders, influencers and fellow entrepreneurs.

“Networking combined with the chance to win prizes and meet new innovative companies and founders – do it!”

Third-placed data technology firm VST Enterprises, who submitted their VCode product which enables secure data transfers, have experienced some phenomenal growth since entering last year’s competition too.

Louis-James Davis, VST Enterprises CEO, said, “We’ve done two fundraising rounds. One valued us at £30m, and another at £220m – that gave us a massive boost.

“We’ve started working in New York, and Reno, Nevada, and we’ve gone on a trade mission with the Prime Minister to India. We’ve also opened up two offices in India, one in Africa as well, and we’re looking at setting up a new company that can trade with Russia.”

VST’s involvement in Venturefest led directly to new business opportunities too and Louis continues: “I’d tell businesses to take every opportunity that they can get, so I’d recommend they get into it [the competition].”

Entries for the 2017 Innovation Showcase are now open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the North West. To enter, please visit http://www.venturefestmanchester.com/#Competition. The deadline for entries is 30 June.

Eighty-eight small and medium-sized businesses entered last year’s competition and more than £1m of funding offers have been made to participants.

Venturefest Manchester 2017 and the Innovation Showcase competition are both being run by Business Growth Hub. These and other Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub, which is designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester.

Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit www.businessgrowthhub.com for more information about their extensive range of services.