Meet the Finalists for our 2021 North East Entrepreneurial Awards

Congratulations to our 2021 finalists! Winners will be announced at our black-tie awards ceremony on Friday 24th September.

Emerging Talent

Dan Parker, Aspect Facades

Dan Parker, Aspect Facades

@aspect_facades

Founded in 2017 by Managing Director Dan Parker, Aspect Facades Ltd are now an established contractor working nationally to provide roofing and cladding solutions to all sectors and markets.

Having averaged year on year sales growth of 270% across the first four years of trading, Aspect Facades are now set for another bumper year of growth, with over £6million secured out of a projection of £8million for the current financial year.

Aspect Facades now employ over twenty people including three apprentices and two trainees, whilst boasting 100% employee retention since inception. The company is managed by a group of directors with an average age of only thirty-four, three of whom came from apprenticeships within the industry.

Currently negotiating terms on a new head-office to cater for future growth, Aspect Facades has plans over the next five years to introduce a skills academy, further develop their apprenticeship programme with up to ten new apprentices whilst also introducing additional expertise to offer more services within the industry.        

Charlotte Bailey and Sean Ali, Super U

Charlotte Bailey and Sean Ali, Super U

@wearesuperu

Bio coming soon.

Mike Davies, Chris Bone and Rob Simmons, Haystack

Mike Davies, Chris Bone and Rob Simmons, Haystack

@wearehaystack

Founded out of frustration with the tech recruitment industry by Chris, Mike and Rob - Haystack is a data insights and careers marketplace that reveals organisations and roles based on a user’s interests, values and tech stack with a mission to uncover, highlight and curate the most interesting tech opportunities. Since officially launching in the North East in January 2021, Haystack has raised just over £1 million in seed investment and is eyeing nationwide expansion.

Haystack now has 18 full time employees and has already partnered with household tech giants across the UK including Lloyds Banking Group, AutoTrader, Sage and AO.com. Their continued regional growth has been coupled with exponential user adoption, with thousands of tech professionals signing into the Haystack App every day. 

Scale-up Entrepreneur (Supported by ION)

Jonathan Grubin, SoPost

Jonathan Grubin, SoPost

@sopost | @groob

Jonathan is Founder & CEO of SoPost, the technology company that helps brands get their product samples to the right people through online channels. An entrepreneur since the age of 12, he founded SoPost in 2012 and over that time has built the business to a team of 60 people with offices in Newcastle, London, New York and Paris.

SoPost is used by hundreds of the world's leading beauty and consumer packaged goods companies, who collectively use the platform to send one sample every two seconds.

Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International

Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International

@SamuelKnightLtd

Established by Steven in 2014, Samuel Knight Group identified a gap in the market for project manpower and consultancy services within the energy and rail industries and expanded from there. The company takes its name from Steve’s late grandfather, Samuel, an inspiring and hardworking family man who Steve saw as his knight in shining armour.

Samuel Knight has won and been shortlisted for many accolades, which can be credited to the ambition and drive of Steve and the team he has assembled. Creativity and entrepreneurial spirit flows through the divisions, with the company mantra of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.

In 2019, Samuel Knight International USA was launched in Boston and Chicago and despite the COVID pandemic both the UK and USA branches grew by 90% - 100%, with the company being on track to achieve £30 million in sales.

Wayne Spriggs, LUSSO Stone

Wayne Spriggs, LUSSO Stone

@LussoStone

Bio coming soon.

Entrepreneur of the Year (Supported by Ward Hadaway)

Dean Benson, Visualsoft

Dean Benson, Visualsoft

@visualsoft | @DeanBensonVS

A passion for innovation, entrepreneurship and pushing the boundaries of what people think is possible led Dean Benson to establish multi-award-winning Visualsoft in 1998. Headquartered in Stockton-on-Tees, and with additional offices in Newcastle, Manchester and Dubai, Visualsoft offers a complete eCommerce ecosystem focused on growing retailers online. Dean employs more than 500 people across his business portfolio.

As the leading eCommerce agency in the region, Dean ensures Visualsoft paves the way for tech in the North East, not only by being a responsible business but by investing in the next generation of tech entrepreneurs through his work with Northern Stable.

Josh Gill, Everflow Group

Josh Gill, Everflow Group

@EverflowWater

CEO and founder, Everflow Group (comprising Everflow Water and Everflow Tech). Josh, who hails from the North East, founded Wynyard-based Everflow in 2015 and it has grown to become the fastest-growing water retailer in the UK with over 73,000 supply points.

Recently (2021) ranking third in the FT1000, the Financial Times’ annual list of the fastest-growing businesses in Europe, the group has also been named an ‘Outstanding’ company to work for by b.co.uk in the Best Companies to Work For survey.

Kate Hellens, Hellens Residential

Kate Hellens, Hellens Residential

@HellensRes

Bio coming soon.

Lee Hutchinson, Double Eleven

Lee Hutchinson, Double Eleven

@DoubleElevenLtd

Based in the heart of Middlesbrough, and with an additional office in Kuala Lumpur, Double Eleven was founded in 2009 when, after a successful programming career culminating with Grand Theft Auto’s Rockstar Games, CEO Lee Hutchinson decided to take his destiny into his own hands, using the experience acquired throughout this career to launch his own games company. Since then, the company has been the driving force behind many award-winning console titles and now boasts a workforce of over 220 hard-working hands-on individuals. The company, with it's in house development and publishing team, shows no signs of slowing down, with record levels of turnover and profit this year, which ten years they could never have even imagined possible, with even more ambitious projects in the pipe for the future.

Mentor of the Year (Supported by Malhotra Group)

Winner to be announced at our black-tie awards ceremony on Friday 24th September.

Lifetime Achievement

Winner to be announced at our black-tie awards ceremony on Friday 24th September.

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