The CEO of East Midlands-based business Colleague Box was announced as the winner of the prestigious Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year accolade at the Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards 2023 on May 4.
The Real Entrepreneurs' Club held the annual awards ceremony at Nottingham University Business School and the award was sponsored and presented by Leicester University.
BBC Radio Leicester presenter Jo Hayward compered the event, which celebrated entrepreneurs from around the region across 10 awarding categories in a range of sectors. Event organisers Cross Productions brought over 180 high-flying business owners from across the East Midlands together at the event, giving the winners the perfect forum for their brands to be seen and heard outside their home cities. The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards had the support of its headline sponsor Fraser Stretton Property Group, which was founded by husband-and-wife duo Narinder Nijjar and Jaz Kaur who are considered allies to fellow entrepreneurs.
The panel of judges consisted of Glynis Wright MBE of GW Growth Consultancy; Patterson Commercial Law Managing Director Rik Pancholi; Premier Logistics Client Relationship Manager Macauley Christopher; University of Derby Enterprise Development Manager Angela Tooley; and Lewis Stringer Senior Manager at UK Network - East and South-East Midlands (Midlands Engine Investment Fund). A Pitching Platform - sponsored by Pattersons Commercial Law - also took place, which saw three start-up entrepreneurs pitch their businesses for a chance to win £10k of investment in legal and marketing services and a non-executive business board for a year. The audience voted for their winner: Kate Allan, founder of ExpHand Prosthetics. Narinder Nijjar, Co-Director of headline sponsor Fraser Stretton Property Group, said: “As allies to fellow entrepreneurs and budding business owners, we’re keen to see more from the winners and we’re really looking forward to being able to keep up with their journey and encourage them in the future.”
Jenny Cross, CEO of Cross Productions, said: “The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards was a huge success. The winners were exceptionally impressive, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. This event wouldn’t have been possible without our passionate headline sponsor Fraser Stretton Property Group and without the help of entrepreneurs who came together to support others, which will help local economies to grow.” Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law, sponsor of the pitching platform, said: “It was an honour to present the finalists of the Pitching Platform and hear about these entrepreneurs and their businesses. We set up the Pitching Platform to highlight businesses who are in the very early stage of their journey.”
Natalie, CEO of Colleague Box said: "I was a total shock to win this award as the calibre was so high and all of the finalists are fantastic entrepreneurs.
I'm absolutely delighted to win Start-Up Entrepreneur and have my achievements with Colleague Box recognised, however I always have to point out that I couldn't do it without my wingman and co-founder Adam (also husband) by my side and also our amazing team.
Huge congratulations to all the other finalists and winners - it seems entrepreneurship is thriving in the East Midlands!"
The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards 2023 winners are:
Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by University of Leicester Natalie Bamford – Colleague Box Entrepreneurial Collaborator Sponsored by Breeze Corporate Finance Ltd Amanda Daly – The Insight Centre Entrepreneur for Good Sponsored by TML Solicitors Stacey Wragg – Embark CSR Entrepreneurial Spirit Sponsored by Take Me Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan – The Zinthiya Trust International Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by Utilities Made Simple Gurdev Mattu – Fashion UK Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by BTT Greta McDonald – Sweet Lounge Innovation in Entrepreneurship Sponsored by Midlands Engine Investment Fund Lee Paxman-Clarke – HEAL.med Entrepreneurial Educator Sponsored by Premier Logistics Nav Ahmed – Arden University Scale-up Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE The Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur Sponsored by Fraser Stretton Property Group Kate Allan – ExpHand Prosthetics