Local Business Accelerators campaign: Dragons’ Den star urges East Sussex firms to join unique initiative

Dragons' Den judge Deborah Meaden is championing the Local Business Accelerators initiative
Dragons' Den judge Deborah Meaden is championing the Local Business Accelerators initiative
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DRAGONS’ Den star, Deborah Meaden, believes the Herald-backed Local Business Accelerators’ campaign offers the perfect launch pad to fledgling businesses in East Sussex.

Regional and local newspapers across the country are delivering a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15m of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.

The bold initiative, backed by the Dragons’ Den judge, is being spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society.

Nearly 500 local press publications across the UK, including the Herald, are joining forces to promote the strength and value of local newspapers for local businesses and communities.

Already, more than 1,000 entries have been received nationwide, including many from newly-started East Sussex businesses.

At stake is the ultimate prize of being mentored by Deborah Meaden, one of Britain’s most successful female entrepreneurs.

She is encouraging businesses in East Sussex, who are under three-years-old and full of potential, to take part.

“The LBA is a special partnership between your local newspaper and selected businesses in your community,” explained Deborah.

“We are setting out to find the best local businesses that Britain has to offer.

“The kind of businesses who are creating jobs, invigorating local communities and putting the economy on the right track.

“It is small businesses like yours that can turn this economy around - our Government believes that, and so do I.”

Business and entrepreneuriship has been at the forefront of Deborah’s working life since leaving school after her ‘O’ levels, studying at business college, and then working for a fashion house.

She launched her first own company aged just 19 - a glass and ceramics import company supplying upmarket stores such as Harvey Nichols.

Deborah later joined the family business, starting out on the shop floor before eventually becoming managing director.

By the time she sold the company the dynamic businesswoman had secured a deal worth £33m, whilst retaining a 23 per cent stake - before eventually selling her remaining stake for £83m in 2007.

Deborah is now a full-time investor ranging from fashion to software, waste management to market research, as well as appearing in the successful BBC programme Dragons’ Den, which she joined in 2006.

She has now joined forces with the press industry to search for the nation’s most promising young businesses.

With her many years of expertise, Deborah wants to help them accelerate their success with top professional advice from local business mentors, plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space in their local publication.

One business, plucked from the hundreds of regional winners, will get individual mentoring sessions from Deborah, who will become a consultant and mentor for one year.

Deborah said that they were looking for businesses who may have a great idea of product, perhaps even found a new market.

They are the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and individually create pride in their community, she said.

“It does not matter what sector your business is in, or how big or small you are,” she explained.

“We want great people and ideas.

“We want businesses who drive ambition and we want to make them famous.”

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Culture Secretary says scheme will make real difference to new companies

A LANDMARK 1,000 entries to Local Business Accelerators has been reached on the same day Jeremy Hunt lends his backing to the campaign – with 18 days still to go until the deadline.

Mr Hunt said of the scheme, “This is a fantastic initiative by the Newspaper Society, which will make a real difference to new companies up and down the country.

“It will help hundreds of small businesses establish themselves, helping to grow our economy and create jobs.

“This really shows the incredibly valuable role that local newspapers play in their local communities.”

Hundreds of entries have been flooding in to local and regional newspapers across the UK each day since the campaign’s launch last month, which came with the backing of the Prime Minister and Dragons’ Den judge, Deborah Meaden; the campaign’s national ambassador.

The initiative has received widespread coverage in the national and media trade press and on Twitter with Deborah Meaden, Number 10 Downing Street, media sales houses, chambers of commerce, local mentors, and small businesses talking about the campaign.

Ads created by St Luke’s have been running this week in regional and local press titles alongside editorial stories.

Mentors from all types of professions - retail, legal, finance, local government, academic and entrepreneurs such as Michelle Mone OBE - have signed up to be part of the campaign.

Feedback from businesses has been positive with one applicant saying: “What you are doing is fantastic. It’s innovative, and it will give start-ups and small businesses a massive boost.

“We really need schemes like this in the UK to help us grow and get recognition.”

Entries close on November 14.

Members of the local business community alongside each title’s business team will form the judging panel who will review and shortlist entries.

They’ll also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.

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How your firm can enter:

• More than 500 papers around the country are taking part in the Local Business Accelerators (LBA) initiative.

• It is open to emerging businesses formed between one and three years ago.

• The selected business will receive mentoring tips and advice from established entrepreneurs within our area. They will then be put forward for the chance to be mentored by Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.

• Entries to LBA are open between now and November 14. To nominate a business, use the following Newspaper Society link – {http:// www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me|www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me| accelerate-me}

• Entries will be judged independently and results revealed in December.