FIVE local businesses battling it out to represent the city in a major competition have been put through their paces by a Dragon’s Den-style panel pitch.
The Edinburgh heat of the Local Business Accelerators Award – run by the Evening News and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce – saw the hopefuls give presentations to a panel of top business experts including Kwik Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer and former Businesswoman of the Year Liz McAreavey.
As well as being put forward for the national contest, which is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and gives them the chance to be mentored by TV “dragon” Deborah Meaden, the winner’s business gets a boost in the form of free advertising.
First to face the “dragons” was Gaynor Salisbury, who runs the popular Loopy Lorna’s Tearooms. She said: “While there are many tearooms in and around Edinburgh, we really strive to provide the best service possible in an extremely child-friendly environment.”
Katie Kerr runs Greatbase, a property management service making use of vacant homes around the capital to attract discerning tourists. She explained: “We offer a personal service that offers a very high standard of care to both our guests and those who are trusting us to get the best out of their properties. When I started off we had five to offer to our customers as a home from home – now we have 40.”
Also hoping to take the crown is Venture Trust’s Amelia Morgan, who uses outdoor education to help people dealing with difficult circumstances work towards a more positive future. She said: “At Venture Trust we’ve worked very hard to ensure we could fit our work as a charity within a working business model and getting to the top five in this competition has certainly helped in boosting our confidence. If we went on to win it would really help accelerate our growth plans.”
Susan Elliott, who created Shop Scotland, the only website showcasing independent online retailers and other small businesses north of the Border, also pitched. She said: “We’ve built up a great roster of Scottish vendors, but winning would mean many others could hear about what we do.”
Last up were Alan Grierson, Richard Bass and John MacPherson, who formed Bright Red Publishing, which produces study and revision guides suitable for the new National 5 Qualifications.
Alan said: “We’re happy to have come this far in the competition but representing Edinburgh at a national level would be an amazing achievement.”
Liz McAreavey said: “What struck us most was the complete commitment and incredible levels of energy all of these business owners have.”
The winner will be revealed on February 6. For more details see www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me