Women lead in Local Business Accelerators competition

Gaynor Salisbury, owner of the Loopy Lorna's in Morningside
Gaynor Salisbury, owner of the Loopy Lorna's in Morningside
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Things are heating up in the Dragons’ Den-style Local Business Accelerators competition – with a shortlist of five battling it out for the top spot.

The winners of the competition – run by the Evening News and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce – will win free advertising and the chance to be mentored by TV “dragon” Deborah Meaden.

And while a recent report showed that only 15 per cent of Scottish companies have a female director, the tables look set to be turned, with four of the top five competing firms run by women.

Robert Kirkhope, agency business development manager at the Evening News’ owner Johnston Press Scotland and one of the judges, said: “How terrific is that? It’s indicative of how in modern Scotland business-minded people are able to drive great ideas forward.”

The top five companies are: Loopy Lorna’s Tea House, Bright Red Publishing, Venture Trust, Shop Scotland and Greatbase.

Loopy Lorna’s, run by Gaynor Salisbury, promises top-quality service and food in a family-friendly environment, while Alan Grierson’s Bright Red Publishing is aiming to produce a full range of study and revision guides suitable for the new National 5 Qualifications.

Venture Trust, run by Amelia Morgan, uses outdoor education to help people dealing with difficult circumstances work towards a more positive future.

Katie Kerr’s Greatbase runs a property management service making use of vacant homes, and Shop Scotland, the brainchild of Susan Elliot, is the only website showcasing independent online retailers and other small businesses.

Mr Kirkhope, who is joined on the panel by Sir Tom Farmer and former Businesswoman of the Year Liz McAreavey, added: “We asked the top ten companies to fill out a questionnaire.

“From looking through these and from investigating each company’s background we could get a really good feel for them.

“It’s hard to point to one thing that stood out because there were various aspects that appealed to us in all of them.

“For example, Loopy Lorna’s is a tremendous example of someone overcoming adversity to run a successful business. Bright Red Publishing have made a terrific achievement in a very short space of time.

“Greatbase was the first finalist we decided on – Katie has managed to turn some of the negative aspects of the recession into a positive. Venture Trust is an extremely well-organised operation.

“Shop Scotland gives natives and tourists alike the chance to purchase genuine Scottish handiwork.”

The next step in the competition, which is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, will see the top five being grilled by the judging panel before they announce their final decision on February 6.

For more information about the Local Business Accelerators visit www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me.