Think BIG 2013
The entrants to Think BIG 2013 really impressed us. The winners in each category were decided by a Dragons’ Den panel of judges, but this year’s Champion was chosen by public vote. In total, a whopping 4,000 votes were cast!
AfroSalons.com will be the UK’s first online directory exclusively for men and women with Afro/curly hair types. As well as providing up-to-date listings for stylists, the site will offer a catalogue of trusted products and specialist hair care advice. Stylists will be able to access training via the site to develop the skills and knowledge needed to nurture Afro hair, using natural products. In the long term, AfroSalons.com will transition from virtual to actual with events focusing on natural Afro hair care.
Consultancy or Service
Bainbridge Jewellery will create bespoke pieces for clients who have difficulty finding suitable jewellery – particularly rings – on the high street. Rings designed for people with a range of conditions – such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis – will not only be attractive and comfortable, but will also offer some support to the finger joints.
Bingo BANISHer is a compressive garment which reduces the appearance of unwanted fat, specifically under the upper arms, by utilising the anisotropic properties of the sleeve fabric. The garment’s bottom hem, an elasticated strip, prevents it from riding up during exercise. Its unique design will appeal predominantly, but not exclusively, to women aged 45+ who want to exercise, but are self-conscious about their appearance. Following the successful launch of the flagship product, BANISH will introduce further items aimed at the same target market.
Clothes Comparison – due to be launched during 2013 – is an online clothes price engine. It will give shoppers the opportunity to browse for like items of clothing across a range of brands to compare price and styles – without having to visit several sites and repeatedly enter their search terms. The company’s list of brand partners is growing fast and already includes French Connection, Glassworks Studios, M&Co, Quba & Co and Warehouse.
The Creative Circle is media production and consultancy business. A Loughborough-based cooperative of freelance creatives – including photographers and video artists – it specialises in working with organisations who want to engage with young people aged 18-25 years. The company has also developed and offers a training programme for people wanting to work in the creative industry.
Think BIG Champion
Eat Me! will bring together urban food growers, such as allotment holders, and consumers as well as people keen to start growing their own fruit and vegetables. The website’s online mapping service will help growers to sell or swap surplus produce while the forum will encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise. Beginners will be supported in the first steps of vegetable growing with Eat Me! starter packs. Members of the online community will be encouraged to hold events to bring together established and potential local growers, improving community cohesion and the transfer of horticultural skills.
The Entrepreneur Handbook is a comprehensive online resource and news platform for entrepreneurs. It provides up-to-date information and exclusive articles – many by notable expert guest writers – exploring issues relevant to entrepreneurs. It also comprises a database of links to other useful sites, spanning funding sources, competitions and awards, venture capitalists, training and support, events and conferences, and business accelerators and incubators. The site is already enjoying significant and growing traction.
Miriam Leach Jewellery trades via the online marketplace, Etsy, as well as boutiques in Leicestershire and West Sussex. The jewellery is handcrafted, using a variety of materials – silver, copper, seed beads, fused plastic bags and recycled paper – and techniques, including knitting and sculpture. The delicate-looking pieces – inspired by the patterns in nature, architecture and traditional henna body art – will soon feature semi-precious stones and pearls.
The PAD Project is a not-for-profit established in December 2012 to support children with special needs – starting in Brad, Romania. The organisation recycles shipping containers, fitting them out to provide the children with a safe and stimulating environment to play and learn – something not currently available to them. Long-term, it is envisioned that the Project will provide similar facilities to shelter homeless people, to support disaster relief and as classrooms in developing countries. The Project also plans to manage design competitions to get university students involved.
South Africa Challenge Jessica Mills With Simon Lyons, Jack Heskett and Peter Bailey (pictured, right)
South Africa Challenge is a social enterprise, working in partnership with the World Changers Academy in Durban, South Africa, leadership programmes and a cultural exchange. The scheme offers participants the opportunity to experience the culture and contrasts of South Africa, whilst taking part in problem solving activities with real issues the Academy has encountered. Participants develop personal, teamwork and leadership skills. The project will be financed in a number of ways including the publication of a book and motivational materials as well as a research consultancy service.
Tasty Wraps will serve fast food – with a delicious and healthy twist. Its wraps and salads will be created using a variety of fillings and breads inspired by Indian cuisine. Customers will be able to create bespoke meals to take-away or eat-in. The first Tasty Wraps outlet will be based in Loughborough – though the company plans to expand nationwide – and it is anticipated that it will be a popular eatery with students.
Tidi-Cable Ltd is a cable management company which aims to improve cable safety on construction sites. The company’s first product, Tidi-Strip®, has been well-received by leading fastener companies, academics and construction workers who agree that there is real need for the product. Both UK and US patent applications have been filed, and other related products are in development which will improve the health and safety of construction professionals, reducing the risk of on-site accidents.
Travel Roulette, a website and app, will offer young people a new way to book a cheap overseas holiday – and add a real sense of spontaneity and adventure. Travellers will also be able to share their experiences and sight-seeing tips via the site’s online blog and message system. The service will be free for travellers with airlines and travel companies paying to list their products on the site.
E-commerce and Retail
University Projects will be a unique web platform offering unlimited access to final year UK university students to search for worthwhile final year projects. It will make finding the right project an easier and less time-consuming task than it currently is – freeing finalists to concentrate on their studies. Organisations will register and pay to post their upcoming assignments which will be assessed to ensure they will benefit applicants.
Version 22 has developed a unique and competitively priced hand-tool – for the safe and easy opening of food and drink packaging – specifically for elderly and less able-bodied users. Its ingenious design means that those who cannot grip packages due to arthritis or the effects of a stroke, for example, will be able to open essentials independently. It also has wider applications in the mainstream craft and kitchen appliance markets.
The Studio – the University’s bespoke business support programme for graduates – welcomed its first cohort of tenants in October 2011. Tenants receive two years' business mentoring support as well as office space and access to the University’s specialist facilities and expertise – everything they need to get their business off the ground. Our three finalists for the title of Studio Champion 2013 were chosen by the Studio tenants themselves, and the winner was decided by public vote.
Previous Think BIG! winners, a dozen eggs is a branding, advertising and design partnership – co-founded by Joanne Lloyd and Frances Collins – which provides creative brand solutions and advertising campaigns to help launch new products and start-ups, and rejuvenate existing businesses. They also design and supply bespoke wedding stationery as well as templated wedding invitations, notelets, greetings cards and personalised prints via notonthehighstreet and their own online shop.
They have quickly established a national client base – including Stead and Simpson, Shoe Zone and a number of graduate start-ups – and diversified into other creative services.
Having established a growing portfolio, they have taken on a third partner, "technical whizz", Chris Pymm.
Amy Humphreys' beautiful handmade, hand-printed textiles for the home reflect her love of English heritage and tradition – but with a contemporary twist.
She currently offers two stunning printed fabric collections – Elina and Evette – which feature a range of products including kitchen textiles, mobile and tablet covers as well as relaxation aids. She also undertakes bespoke commissions.
Amy does the majority of her business online, but also trades via a handful of independent boutiques, and is gearing up to get her range into outlets nationwide.
In January 2013, she was one of just 12 companies selected to appear at Spotted, a showcase of new UK designers. The event is part of Top Drawer – the UK's leading event for design-led gifts, lifestyle and fashion.
Asap – an electric powered, one-person water craft – was originally developed by Ross Kemp as his final year project as a more financially viable and sustainable option for beach lifeguards.
The prototype has been tested by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and championed by David Bamber who heads up seven lifeguard centres in South Africa.
In 2012, Ross was selected to compete in BBC3's Be Your Own Boss business show, presented by Innocent Drinks co-founder, Richard Reed. During the show, Reed introduced Ross to Sir Richard Branson who made a fantastic offer – to fly Ross and the Asap prototype to Bondi Beach for its official product launch.
The show also provided Ross with plenty of encouragement and business contacts. He is currently busy getting Asap manufactured and ready to market at the start of 2014.