The impact on Scottish entrepreneurs of a major awards win

A select group of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs is vying for recognition in the coming Great British Entrepreneur Awards national final – following in the footsteps of contemporaries such as tech firm Appointedd, which says its triumph helped supercharge its growth.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Actiph Water, gives the awards the thumbs-up. Picture: contributed.

The awards are now in their eighth year, and “celebrate the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs in the UK, rather than the business’ balance sheet”. Regional finalists have been revealed and they all go forward to the national final, the date of which is yet to be confirmed.

The awards’ founder Francesca James said: “We all know what a difficult year it has been, and that makes it all the more important to recognise the incredible things that entrepreneurs have been able to achieve this year.”

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The Scottish regional finalists include:

Ruari Fairbairns, founder of One Year No Beer, has been named both Health and Wellbeing Entrepreneur of the Year and Great British Entrepreneur of the Year. He is the creator of the online platform to help people improve their relationship with alcohol, and said the nominations “mean the world to me”.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Actiph Water – billed as the first and only high-alkaline ionised water in UK – has been named regional Food and Drink Entrepreneur of the Year. He was named regional Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. The Guinness World Record Holder praised winning “such a high-profile award” this year, telling The Scotsman that it had been a “monumental effort” from the team to get here. “We are now in 6,000 retailers and exporting to 15 countries and are aiming to more than double that over the next nine months,” he said.

Robbie Allen, founder of The Thriving Box Co, has been named Pivot Entrepreneur of the Year. The category celebrates those who have adapted their business amid the outbreak of coronavirus. Mr Allen launched the firm, which sells boxes containing items from independent retailers, after working as a digital marketing consultant, and losing all his clients within two weeks. He said: “Since launching in March 2020, we’ve placed almost £1 million worth of business with local independent retailers across the UK.”

Other regional Scottish winners include Snag Tights’ founder Brie Read, who came top in the Disruptor category, and Kirsty McKerrow of the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, who won the Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year category.

Previous Scottish winners

In 2017, Ooni was named the UK’s Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year, and Leah Hutcheon, founder and chief executive of Edinburgh-based online booking and business management tool Appointedd,was named UK-wide Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year.

Ms Hutcheon told The Scotsman that it definitely helped boost the business. “Appointedd grew over 100 per cent in the year of the award, adding amazing names such as Mamas & Papas and Connelly Security Systems to our customer base," she said.

She also said it “definitely brought a level of attention to myself and, most importantly, the work that Appointedd does”, adding: “I was truly honoured to be named overall winner of my category – especially as there were so many amazing regional winners and obviously I was absolutely delighted to bring the award back to Scotland.”

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