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WINNERS ANNOUNCED: East Midlands Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards 2024

"The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards... promotes the work of inspirational people and positively impacts the East Midlands economy.”

East Midlands enterprise The Real Entrepreneurs' Club held its third annual awards ceremony at Nottingham Business School last night.

Ten stalwart entrepreneurs and industry thought leaders accepted awards on stage at the venue of academic excellence where BBC Radio Leicester presenter Jo Hayward compèred the event.         Event organisers Cross Productions brought over 160 high-flying business owners from across the East Midlands together at the professionally executed yet friendly event, giving the winners the perfect forum for their brands to be seen and heard outside of their home cities.     Jenny Cross, CEO of Cross Productions, said: “I’m very proud of what The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards has achieved in its three years. During this time, The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards has totalled 90 finalists, 30 winners, and six Pitching Platform contestants; all in the name of entrepreneurship and promoting the impressive and industry-leading work that’s happening in the East Midlands."   The East Midlands Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards had the support of its headline sponsor Furnley House, a Certified B Corporation™ and award-winning independent financial adviser and mortgage broker. Through their dedication to excellence and community support, Furnley House helps clients work towards and achieve their financial goals while contributing to the betterment of society.     "This event wouldn’t have been possible without our impassioned headline sponsor Furnley House, whose team have embraced every aspect of the awards process with undeniable enthusiasm, living up to their mission statement: ‘We recognise that we cannot achieve our higher purpose in isolation, that we require partnership and the talent and support of others; that we need community. As a group, we seek to participate and to deliver positive social, economic and environmental change,’” Jenny added.     Furnley House Co-Founder and Managing Director Stefan Fura, headline sponsor, said: “I’m fiercely committed to the notions of community and sustainability and imbued with the belief that people, when properly looked after, can achieve amazing things, delivering positive and life-enhancing outcomes for all.     "This way of doing business is embedded at Furnley House and leads us to collaborations and that we believe helps improve the lives of others, shape our ecosystem, and deliver positive social, economic, and environmental change, and therefore to our sponsorship of The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards, which promotes the work of inspirational people and positively impacts the East Midlands economy.”     The panel of judges consisted of successful East Midlands-based entrepreneurs The Alternative Divorce Company’s Dr Glynis Wright MBE; Nelsons’ Rik Pancholi; Premier Logistics’ Macauley Christopher; Red Monkey Play’s Simon Winfield; and University of Derby’s Samantha Deakin.  

The Pitching Platform

The event saw the return of the Pitching Platform, sponsored by Rik Pancholi, partner and corporate solicitor at Nelsons. For the second year, three start-ups pitched to the room for a chance to win £10k worth of corporate legal and marketing advice and investment from Rik at Nelsons and marketing agency Cross Productions. They’ve also won a non-executive business board consisting of Rik; Jenny Cross of Cross Productions; Paul Bevan of Breeze Corporate Finance; and Ian Cooper of RBC Brewin Dolphin.     Rik commented: “We set up the Pitching Platform to highlight businesses in the early stages of their journey. These are often the businesses that need support the most but may face challenges with securing the best advice or access to funding."     This year’s live audience vote named Katie Michaels of Moti Me as 2024’s Pitching Platform winner. Moti Me is a product that motivates children to practice physiotherapy exercises for those with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy. The other inspiring pitchers were Henry Brogan of SmartForm AI and Natalie Weir of Playivity.     Katie said: “This opportunity is so critical for us at this point because we want to bring our product out to market next year. My background is in design so having business, finance, legal and marketing as a support package fills the gaps where I need that assistance so this is really going to progress and support us in reaching the market, doing all the planning in advance, and ensuring we’ve got a really strong team in place to get us to that point.”     Rik added: "All three businesses will no doubt go really far and I’m looking forward to working with the wider advisory board in supporting Katie Michaels and Moti Me as they continue on their incredible journey.”  

This year’s East Midlands Real Entrepreneurs Awards 2024 winners are:


Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by ExpHand Prosthetics Rahkesh Thakkar, Vets4U  

Entrepreneurial Collaborator

Sponsored by Breeze Corporate Finance Joe Nixon, Arch Creative  

Entrepreneur for Good

Sponsored by Furnley House Rahoul Naik, Jetpack Marketing  

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Sponsored by Take Me Louise Anne Female Empowerment Coach  

International Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by East Midlands Chamber Gordon Docherty, Druck, a Baker Hughes business  

Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by Weatherwise Services Jake Karia, Jake & Nayns’  

Innovation in Entrepreneurship

Sponsored by DMU Crucible Sébastien de La Hamayde, Designeering  

Entrepreneurial Educator

Sponsored by Teamwork Partnership Samantha Deakin, University of Derby  

Scale-up Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by RBC Brewin Dolphin Utkarsh Thakkar, RUUT GROUP of Companies  

The Entrepreneurs' Entrepreneur

Sponsored by Ninja HR Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE, LBC Mentoring

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