On Monday 13 November, over 100 people gathered at The Shard in London for the annual Heropreneurs Awards. Among the group were mentors, mentees, nominees, keynote speakers, supportive guests, and all the wonderful team members who had been working so hard to put on the event.
The Heropreneurs charity directly supports the ambition of many current and former military personnel, and/or their partners, through one-to-one mentoring and hands-on guidance, given freely, by some of the country’s most successful business leaders. Once a year, we come together to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our mentees and raise money for the continuation of our work.
The afternoon kicked off with drinks and networking. A loud buzz of chatter filled the room as all our attendees got to know one another, swapping stories and sharing the varied journeys that had brought each of them there. This is the uniqueness of Heropreneurs – individuals from different places, industries, and military backgrounds, all united by their business journeys and the support they give or receive from the charity.
We then split off into two groups, mentors and mentees, to enjoy workshops. For so many young or small companies, marketing can feel like a daunting and potentially expensive process. They’ve got the product, the service, the team, and the drive, but not enough people know about them!
Recognising this, our mentees took part in a marketing and PR Q&A session, making use of expert knowledge from Lindsay Compton, CEO of our marketing and communications agency, Canny Comms, and market research project manager, Esme Jepp.
It was an open forum of discussion, where mentees could share their marketing successes and failures, and ask for advice on how to avoid repeating past mistakes and improve future campaigns. Access to this kind of advice is vital for budding entrepreneurs and a key part of how we support the growth of our mentees.
Across the hall, our mentors were being led by Stuart Nicol, a Heropreneurs trustee and mentor, in a workshop discussing best practice and the sharing of achievements, frustrations, and the challenges of being a mentor.
Our charity greatly relies on the time and expertise that our mentors donate, and we recognised that they do not often have a chance to meet one another and share in the experience of mentorship. They are part of a valued community, and it was fantastic to be able to provide the opportunity for them to openly discuss the process of mentorship and look for ways to do it better.
After a quick break, it was time for our keynote speeches. First up was Paul Blair DSO, veteran, founder, and current CEO of ArcX Technology.
He shared some of his top tips for starting out in business. He explained how to use the transferrable skills veterans have built up through their military careers. His long-standing experience across the military and business worlds made for an incredibly fascinating speech, and he highlighted the importance of resilience, trust, focus, teamwork, and leadership when transitioning into the commercial world.
Next, we heard more from military spouse and previous Warwick Business School (WBS) Heropreneurs MBA bursary winner, Lindsay Compton. She discussed the importance of Heropreneurs and what it does for those in the military community through the story of how the charity has helped her. She also shared how the MBA has significantly bolstered her business understanding and prevented her from making a number of potential mistakes.
Later on in the evening, after we had enjoyed some food, drinks, and a bit more networking, we re-gathered for the awards presentation. There was a palpable air of excitement and anticipation as the room grew busy and we waited to find out who had been successful in each category.
Congratulations to the 2023 winner of the Warwick Business School 100% bursary, Joseph Pollard! The award was presented by WBS Dean Prof. Andy Lockett and grants Joseph a fully funded place on WBS’ Accelerator MBA, no doubt unlocking countless opportunities in the future.
Henry Middleton was also awarded the second-place prize of a 75% bursary for the Accelerator MBA and Isabella Naiduki was awarded the third-place prize of a 50% bursary for the Global MBA course.
Thank you to WBS for working with us and once again offering such incredible opportunities for budding entrepreneurs from our community.
Congratulations to the 2023 Heropreneur of the Year, Dr Elizabeth Newman-Earl. This award highlights an individual who has displayed exemplary leadership and resilience, and who has had a profound impact on their industry. Elizabeth has a substantial track record working in partnership with multinational organisations and private-, public- and third-sector clients to enhance their social value offer. Her post-doctorate research focused on supporting public engagement with those living with neurological conditions to empower and facilitate their involvement in academic research. With her not-for-profit company, e50k, which supports a wide range of businesses in delivering in-depth, long-lasting social value, Elizabeth truly embodies the qualities of a true hero and entrepreneur.
This award was presented by Jack Torrens-Spence from Goldman Sachs, another fantastic organisation that has provided extremely valuable support to us and ensured the continuation of our work with the military community.
Congratulations to the winner of the Product of the Year award, Iain Moore with BGreater Shoes! This award acknowledges a product that has surpassed expectations and set a new benchmark for excellence in its respective industry. BGreater Shoes is revolutionising the way we think about shoe design for children, creating a product to support foot development, rather than constrain it. They’re successfully taking the fight to the giants of the shoe industry and have a bright future in front of them.
Congratulations to the Technology Business of the Year, ROUUTE Technologies! This award recognises the tech business that has demonstrated remarkable growth, technological advancement, and industry leadership. ROUUTE Technologies, in developing an innovative and sustainable road-based energy harvesting system, has demonstrated a firm ability to adapt, disrupt, and drive positive change in the tech landscape.
Congratulations to the Start-Up of the Year, Redeployable! This award highlights the dynamic start-up that has exhibited exceptional potential, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit. With the creation of a platform to match skilled veterans into civilian jobs and industries, Redeployable have turned a vision into a thriving reality and showcased their potential to become industry game-changers.
The noise was thunderous as we showered all the winners with applause and, with a glass of prosecco in hand, our attendees headed back out the ceremony room to celebrate! Our wonderful event drew to a close shortly after, but the party was only just beginning. We relocated to The Bunch of Grapes, just a few minutes down the road, to continue our celebrations, and it was the perfect way to end the night.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended, sponsored, and supported the Heropreneurs Awards. Our work isn’t possible without your support and donations and it’s nights like these when we truly see the impact of our work, reflected in the success of our mentees.
We are particularly grateful for the ongoing support from our trustees as well as our sponsors, Goldman Sachs, WBS, and BCA – three wonderful businesses that allow us to run an organisation like this and put on events that give back to you: our community.
We look forward to seeing you next year!
If you would like to support us, via donation or mentorship, or would like to learn more about the experience of being a mentee, please visit our website: www.heropreneurs.co.uk