Select Page

Voting is now closed! Thank you to everyone who voted and massive congratulations to our three winners: Colin Hayes, Stuart Priest and Jennifer Lachs.

Every three months we give away $3,000 of grants to help kick-start wannabe entrepreneurs. Vote now for your favourite of the Summer finalists!

For more information on the scheme, previous winners and how to apply please check out the Arbing Blog Entrepreneurship Grants. 

We have chosen 15 finalists who are each in the running for one of three $1,000 entrepreneurship grant. Each applicant had to submit a business plan or essay detailing how they would use the money to improve or start their business. And now it is up to you to choose which of these worthy entrepreneurs should receive the money. All the applications are below and all of them deserve a read, happy voting!

Voting Rules

  • One vote per person per day.
  • Voting closes midnight on 30 September 2017.
  • The top three finalists with the most votes will each receive $1,000 paid via PayPal.
  • You are allowed to promote the competition and get friends/families/strangers to vote for you. You are not allowed to use bots or computer systems to try and game the competition.

EDIT1: Some people are getting confused about what I mean by one vote per person per day. The voting box below blocks people by IP address and cookie for 24 hours. What that means is that if someone on the same internet connection or the same computer as you has recently voted then you cannot.

EDIT2: I have added a CAPTCHA requirement to deter bots. It can take a few moments to load, so please be patient. And come on everyone, please play fair!

EDIT3: One hour to go! Voting closes 23:59 UK time.


Congratulations to our winners: Colin Hayes, Stuart Priest and Jennifer Lachs. I look forward to seeing how you put the grants to good use. Here are the final vote tallies:

Who Should Win An Entrepreneurship Grant?

Let’s meet the finalists:

Just click on the name to expand and view their full application. Note: the order is just the order I opened the emails in and does not represent my personal preference.

Jenny Lachs - Digital Nomad Girls


My name is Jenny Lachs and I am applying to the Arbing Grant today for my business Digital Nomad Girls (DNG).

I thought I’d tell you my story quickly before I jump into my business vision and why I’d love to win this grant.

I’m originally from Munich in Bavaria, and in my ‘old life’ I was a chemist. I studied for nearly ten years and got my bachelors, masters and then even my PhD in organic chemistry. I was always very passionate about my research and lab work, but during my PhD I realised that focusing on 1 molecule for 4 years is quite limiting and I missed working with people.

I knew Science would not be my future, I only knew that my big passion was travelling. So after my PhD I took off on an around-the-world-trip which has since turned into a full-time lifestyle nearly 4 years later.

I started working online just over 2 years ago. After travelling to South and Central America, Australia and South East Asia asa backpacker, I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand to become a digital nomad.

As a chemist I had no idea what online skills I had, so I set myself a challenge to try any online job I could find. The idea was that I’d see what I enjoyed doing, gained some experience and ultimately would carve out an online career for myself. This is exactly what happened. I started writing articles, ghost writing, translating, doing social media management and even a bit of WordPress design.

Very early on I realised that I was usually the only girl at the coworking space where I worked, and only one of a few girls at meetups. I really wanted to connect with other aspiring digital nomads just like myself and started a Facebook Group called Digital Nomad Girls just over 2 years ago. When I invited the first few girls I’d met into the group, I had no idea that this little project would turn into my passion project and ultimately my business, just a year later.

It was quite clear from the start that there was a huge demand for a space where girls could connect with each other, ask their questions and share their experiences, knowing that this was a safe space for them.

I now have over 12k members, I am about to run my 3rd coworking retreat next month and I have a popular website where I share tips, guides and inspiring interviews with successful digital nomad girls.

What I have learned over the last 2 years running DNG and meeting hundreds of lovely location independent girls, is that what we all have in common is a craving for community. No matter if we have home bases, if we travel frequently or sporadically, it can be isolating and even lonely at times to be a digital nomad.

Most of us are running or setting up online businesses which is a huge undertaking even if you have a consistent support network. Many of us don’t have this network as the digital nomad lifestyle is still pretty new and often family and friends don’t really understand our dreams. Many girls give up before they’ve even started because they either lack the support system or are sold a dream that is supposedly easy to achieve. This is another common problem in the online space that the digital nomad lifestyle is sold as an easy to achieve dream, which I think can be very misleading and discouraging, especially when you’re starting out.

It has become my mission to inspire, connect and empower (aspiring) location independent girls around the world. I want Digital Nomad Girls to become the one-stop destination for all girls who are interested in this lifestyle. I want to give them honest and valuable advice, connect them with like-minded people and teach them the tools and skills they need to start an online career, whether as freelancer or as entrepreneurs.

While the retreats will always play a big role in DNG, what I am currently focussing on is creating a more focusses and valuable space for the girls to turn to. I call it the DNG Inner Circle.

This is my vision for the Inner Circle.

A virtual coworking space that you share with all your business besties and that travels with you wherever you go.

In technical terms it will be a WordPress based membership site using Mighty Networks as the community platform (a very interesting company by the way). And these are the features:

  • Mentorship – a group of successful digital nomad girls will mentor and support the new members throughout their journey
  • Expert created mini courses – each month I will invite an expert to join us in the Inner Circle who will create a mini course on a relevant topic like finding remote jobs, business accounting, visas, productivity, travelling with family, balance and health while travelling, marketing, branding etc.
  • Live Q&A sessions with experts – the experts will hold live Q&A sessions to help the girls with hands on advice
  • Goal Setting- we will hold monthly goal setting sessions. It’s impossible to reach your goals if you don’t know what they are
  • Accountability – we will pair the girls with accountability buddies to keep in touch with and hold each other accountable
  • Masterminding – we will create smaller sub groups based on their projects. We will also hold monthly mastermind host seat sessions where we help the girls in a live session

One of the biggest benefits of the Inner Circle will be consistency. It can be very distracting to move to a new city every few months or even weeks. At each new coworking space you have to reintroduce not only yourself, but also your business or project and it’s hard to get great advice from people who just found out what you do. The girls and mentors inside the Inner Circle move with you wherever you go, and as your business evolves and grows.

Now, what would I use the $1000 for?

I am already in the process of setting up the membership site backbones. I am currently doing everything on a shoestring budget but I am confident I can pull together a functional membership site with good user experience. However, what I am lacking at the moment are the tools and equipment to create high quality online courses. My old iPhone is sadly not up to scratch anymore and I would love to invest in a nice camera and microphone to create mini courses for my members. I know how important video is to tell a story and I think that a great video setup would improve the quality of my courses and the whole experience. The rest of the money I would invest in hiring a VA to help me with the launch of the site which I plan for end of September.

I really hope you consider my application and I am happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you,

Jenny Lachs

Chris Richards - Life Aid Solutions


Who are we was designed and evolved following the collapse of a social enterprise by previous employees Dawn Marie Mathew, an advertising executive & Chris Richards, a retired dental surgeon. By analysing the successes and failures of that venture and using reflective practice we are learning to fail better. It has been said that if you don’t fail, it means you’re not trying hard enough. So we intend to learn from previous mistakes and move on.

A need was identified for a home based venture to appeal to those who are or perceive themselves to be socially isolated. A problem was also identified as most of those in that position were also at the lower end of the income scale. Typically these are housewives/husbands looking after young children or retirees both looking for some direction, social interaction and a risk free way to supplement their income.

There is also a growing need amongst the growing number of retirees who are feeling isolated, rejected and of no further value to society leaving a lack fulfilment and a growing sense of futility. These retirees have a wealth of experience that is seriously undervalued by western society and in our opinion should be heeded and utilised to maximise growth and momentum.

Purpose & Principals

Our purpose is to build relationships and using these relationships to help others achieve their full potential.

The principals we will follow will be to consider any project or venture that meets our ethical & Fairtrade standards, is proven, professional, reliable and repeatable. It should further provide…

  1. Income
  2. Innovation
  3. Inspiration
  4. Improvement
  5. Involvement

The need

The Average income in the U.K. is £27,600 PA. The average house price is £216,750. According to the Nationwide Building Society the income needed to pay an average mortgage is £37,370 leaving a shortfall of £9,770.

33% of middle class families would struggle to pay an unexpected £500 bill.
14% of middle class families would struggle to pay a £100 bill.

The University of Oxford claims that 45% of all jobs will be lost due to automation and Deloitte further claim that 114,000 lawyers will be unemployed in the U.K. alone due to Artificial Intelligence replacing their work all within 20 years.

We intend to show those socially isolated and/or low income people and families how they can improve their circumstances using a multi-faceted approach.

In the USA, if you want to earn more than $35K PA, you’re going to need a college degree with
attendant costs.

How we intend to solve this

A) Social inclusion

By forming an interactive website and forum we intend to promoted social inclusion. There will be three types of membership
1. Open “read-only” membership
2. Social “moderated” contributing membership – to prevent abusive, threatening behaviour or advertising
3. Closed “share-holder” membership – to participate in the running and direction of the company as well as benefitting from dividend and share value investment

The membership interactions will go some way to alleviating the social isolation as members will be strongly encouraged to give their views and recommendations as to the direction the company takes as well as providing a lively form of social interaction. It is further envisaged that regular social meetings will be organised to further the feeling of inclusion as it is recognised that
relationships are fundamental to mental health and well-being, with them people become dysfunctional, anti-social and susceptible to personality disorders according to psychologists.

Once people join the website they will be introduced to the concept of Maslow’s Pyramid and our view that true fulfilment and happiness can be achieved by moving up that pyramid. We will show them how to do this and once they have begun their ascent then they will be in a far better position to help themselves and therefore be in a position to help others increasing their feeling of selfworth and fulfilment. The Dalai Lama in his book “The pursuit of happiness in a troubled world” claims that true happiness comes from not only social inclusion but by recognising that one is a valid, valued, contributing member of society.

By using the membership database we will also be running surveys to ascertain what the membership wants and needs. Whilst we have identified needs which we are confident we can fulfil, it is a big mistake to be so arrogant as to think this is what the membership should be content with and utilising surveys is a good way to provide what the membership actually wants and so increase the value of the offerings and opportunities.

B) Income opportunities

i) Drop shopping. This method involves advertising goods via various websites and finding buyers. The member then takes payment for the goods and orders the goods from a manufacturer/supplier who then ships directly to the customer. This obviates the need to hold physical stock or tie up capital in stock as stock is only purchased upon receipt of a paid order. We have developed a network of suppliers willing to participate in this form of selling
ii) Affiliate marketing – similar to drop shopping but done through larger online retail stores e.g. Amazon. Competition is however greater in these areas. We have identified unique products and information material which can make a substantial Passive income and is a feature we will be promoting.
iii) Affinity marketing – a problem with many town centres is that smaller retailers and service providers are loosing out to bigger out-of-town shopping centres. With reduced turnover, this makes it harder for them to compete with the larger conglomerates. By developing a “loyalty card” with benefits not only for the retailer and customer but also for the agent selling these cards, it is anticipated an additional source of income can be achieved.
iv) Advertising – generally speaking advertisers are looking at any group of over 1000 to market their services or products. Whilst this income would not be available to individual members, it would be available to the company and so would increase company cash flow.
v) Mentoring & coaching– this was traditionally charged at £300/2 hour session and will be charged at a market sustainable rate to be determined
vi) E-book publishing of self-help guides via Amazon Kindle Publishing.

C) Savings opportunities

Affinity marketing – by using the membership of the affinity group substantial savings can be achieved. Most providers are prepared to offer discounts to affinity groups. This can range from utility providers to leisure and travel outlets. This will be utilised to the maximum.

As previously described, we will be running regular surveys and within the online forum we hope and anticipate the membership will suggest other areas we can explore as it will be the membership that benefits, so it is a symbiotic relationship between ourselves (the company, including shareholders) and the membership.

Using this holistic innovative approach and using organic growth we intend to show the membership how to thrive not just survive and in the process grow. The traditional methods of outcome visioning, brainstorming, mind mapping and peer review will be used to achieve this.

Why are we different

Not only are we offering an income opportunity but also a savings opportunity coupled with and driven by a social media initiative.When investigating any home based source of income, one is faced with lies, damned lies and

When investigating any home based source of income, one is faced with lies, damned lies and statistics. A further problem is the wealth of information and the way in which it is often presented causing overthinking, scepticism and procrastination. Also the position from which most prospective members can be described as fear generated thinking which can unconsciously delay
the inevitable challenges.

We intend to address this problem in a slightly different way. First by “drip feeding” information in a step-by-step approach, only giving information about the next stage when the first stage has been successfully completed. Although this is a more time consuming process, much of this can be automated and further provides the information in a non-threatening way by clearly identifying
milestones and providing reward for achieving these milestones.

Secondly, we can provide a more intensive hand-holding process using mentoring and coaching skills Chris Richards gained as a mentor to the University of Oxford post-graduate medical faculty designed to help struggling medics and dentists. This will be conducted in a reflective and compassionate way.We also intend to develop a series of key performance indicators to monitor members’ progress

We also intend to develop a series of key performance indicators to monitor members’ progress using Google analytics, advanced tracking software and software developed in association with an American company.


With reference to the spreadsheet, it can be seen that after just 10 months a monthly income of £961.08 can be generated. This will be possible with an initial investment of just £96.46. Further investment will be needed but this will come from profits made. These profits will be reinvested to achieve acceptable returns. So for a modest investment and using an automated system, members should be able with 1-2 hours work per week address the previously shown shortfall of £9,770 PA within 10 months and thereafter continue to grow their investment. All this will be achieved using our drip-feed, step-by-step system previously described to make this as reliable and repeatable as possible. Using the savings achieved from the loyalty card scheme will further increase members disposable income.

This is sufficient to grow the company organically. However, this does not include investors or shareholders. Using crowdfunding as a source of immediate income, this will enable investors to become shareholders and therefore make the company more democratic. Shareholders will have equal voting rights and be eligible for dividends, the level of which would be voted on at the AGM.

Funds raised by shareholders would enable faster growth of the company and allow for employment of staff to deal with the every-day routine running issues. It is anticipated that initially a shareholding of 10,000 units of £10 per unit/share would be issued. The £100,000 thus raised would allow for a planned campaign of press and social media releases to increase membership
and therefore increase benefits more rapidly to members.

The initial issue of shares once the investment is recouped from earnings would be put into an escrow account to protect the investment. Further earnings and profits from the company would be subject to annual independent audit and profits remaining would be donated to suitable charities. The benefitting charities would be voted on by the shareholders. This will foreseeably be possible at the end of year 2 following the initial investment being set aside in an escrow account. This will promote further engagement with investors.

Niall Gates - Alcohol Delivery App

I am a 25-year-old entrepreneur from Northern Ireland, living in Dublin. I graduated law a few years back and worked dead-end jobs until I had enough cash to start a business. I’m still running that one. It’s a drone company (services including aerial photography and videography with a hard pursuit of volumes surveying). ( There hasn’t been much success, but it is profitable and with potential for an exponential growth. I have had to work in service full-time to pay all the bills.

I am in the process of starting a new company. The job I work is week-on, week-off on a luxury train going all around Ireland, affording me the opportunity to purse the drone jobs on my other week. If my new company goes anywhere I wouldn’t have the chance to do this anymore. I am therefore about to scale back my job to 20-30 hours as a barman so I can run the company. This will be a bold move as living in Dublin is expensive. The job will cover bills but I might need a large marketing budget, which might be difficult to conjure.

My new company is an alcohol delivery app (like a JustEat for booze).  My research is done and if I am only serving as a connector between the customer and the off-licence and keep deliveries between the legal hours for sale of alcohol I’m above board. I have ambitious plans for the company and aim to start hiring drivers to cover at least a few different locations initially. I aim to market the company as light-hearted and appealing to a young party crowd with target environments of office parties, BBQs and social gatherings in mind. I will be making a humorous video, which will showcase Dublin and include a tongue-in-suggestion that deliveries can be carried out by drone (an obvious marketing ploy). I can do all this myself with my own equipment, so essentially I can do this for free. However, to promote the video on social media platforms with ads will cost money. I will distribute flyers around bars, clubs and off-licences and may do a small bit of billboard advertising. All of this can potentially start to snowball in cost, but I feel that a hard launch would be the best approach and therefore I feel that it would be bad policy to miss out on such an approach through lack of funds.

The grant that I am applying for would allow me to work part-time which allows me to run the company and physically complete the first number of orders myself by being physically present in Dublin. It will also aid me to carry out the marketing campaign that would be in line with a hard launch. It may not make up the entire budget I would require in aiming for this, but it would go some way towards it. The remainder I can fund with an overdraft facility on my company bank account, which I will have. I would aim for the surplus spent at that point to start to be paid off with increased orders and company profit.

I appreciate very much the taking the time to read of this endeavour and I look forward to your thoughts and decision on it all!

Niall Gates

Alvin Lau - Come And Buy These


1. About myself

Hello there! I’m Alvin Lau and I’m from Malaysia. I recently decided to go full-time as a blogger with the hope of earning a full-time living blogging. Prior to this, I was working in a corporate law firm as a trainee associate and was eventually called to the Bar as a qualified lawyer.

However, I didn’t practice as a lawyer at all as it didn’t feel right and I wanted to have more control over my life. The thing about corporate law firms is that it’s common to work till midnight most days of the week and there is no work-life balance at all. To add to that misery, the salary was even lower than jobs that didn’t require degrees (e.g. driving for Uber / Grab). Most importantly, there was no job satisfaction.

Hence, I decided that it would be better if I could earn money online and blogging seems to be a good long-term way to do so. I do enjoy writing and I used to blog many years ago on a “blogspot”. I stopped blogging as I had no readers and I didn’t know how to do SEO or promote my blog back then. I had no intention of monetizing my blog at all or rather I didn’t know it was possible. I was really young and immature back then.

Having said that, I recently launched a self-hosted blog on WordPress called Ordinary Reviews and I blog mainly on social media tips, making money from home and also some blogging tips that I’ve learnt. At the time of writing, it’s about 3 – 4 months’ old. I’ve not earned much from it nor gotten that much traffic but it’s a working progress.

Nevertheless, that’s not the blog that I need funding with. I launched a new website about a week ago, i.e. ComeAndBuyThese and I need some money to gain some traffic to this website.

2. Business model

ComeAndBuyThese was inspired by websites like and It’s an online magazine that promotes weird and interesting products with affiliate links.

The goal is to send visitors via my affiliate links to, ThinkGeek and other affiliate networks. What I love about Amazon is that I can earn regardless of what products the visitors buy.

The website by itself requires minimum funds to launch. However, the main problem is getting traffic into the website.

As the posts are really short (less than 100 words), I can’t rely on SEO. Even if I did create long posts (e.g. 50 weird gifts you have to look at), it will take months before SEO kicks in as the blog is new.

As I’m doing this full-time with almost zero income, it’s really difficult to sustain this website.

3. How I would like to use the funds

I would like to use most of the funds in advertising and growing my social media accounts as follows:

  • I want to boost my posts on my Facebook page and potentially gain a lot of new followers and traffic to my website. I am aware that the reach of Facebook pages is severely limited in recent years by Facebook’s algorithm. Nevertheless, I may get true followers that will actually buy products online via my website.
  • I have not tried Instagram ads yet but it’s something I’m considering.
  • I would like to experiment with Reddit advertising as well. Although redditors dislike promoters a lot, advertising on certain sub-reddits might actually work.
  • My own living expenses. As I’m using my savings right now, it will run out eventually and I need extra funding for my own expenses.

In a nutshell, I would love to have extra funds regardless of whether I spend it on advertisements or my own life expenses. I’m trying to supplement my income via freelancing (translation / writing gigs), but it’s not working well so far.

I would be grateful if my application is successful.

Thank you!
Yours sincerely,

Alex Swallow - The Influence Expert


Who I am

I’m The Influence Expert. I help people to grow their influence so that they can have a greater impact on the world. I’m also a digital nomad- I have recently lived in Budapest, Prague and Lisbon and I jointly run the biggest group for people who have this lifestyle on LinkedIn.

My background is as a social entrepreneur: I am the Founder of Young Charity Trustees, which seeks to encourage diversity on charity boards. I was formerly the Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, was a Co Vice Chair of a charity in North London and have been involved in a number of national-level initiatives around the charity sector- such as this and this. I was one of the JCI Ten Outstanding Persons of the UK. I was also listed as one of the top 30 Social CEOs in the inaugural awards.

You can find out much more about me on LinkedIn.

Why The Influence Expert is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing

I feel like my life has been quite an adventure so far- this article gives a bit of a flavour of it.

I’ve had some great jobs and my share of frustrating and difficult times too.

After a period of self-reflection, which included going on a leadership retreat and meeting up for breakfast with someone I greatly look up to, I decided that the ‘golden thread’ running through all my work so far was about influence.

That is to say I realised that my passion was in helping great people get their work in front of a wider audience. I love personal branding, networking and spreading the good work of other people- as far back as I can remember I have naturally done this.

The more I looked into this area (and checked that others were interested in the subject too) the more I realised that this is something that I could see myself focusing on for the rest of my working life.

I started The Influence Expert in February 2016. Since then, I’ve:

  • Got my first 1-1 clients
  • Written my first book (a lifetime ambition, particularly to be able to put it in my Grandad’s hands- he is in his 90s. You can see I did it in the photo at the top!).
  • Started building a tribe/community around me. This includes interviews with Tribe members, special content for the Tribe and helping a lot of people for free. The Tribe is continuing to grow and develop- we recently added a Facebook community for example and I am meeting more and more Tribe members in real life as well as online.
  • Made speeches in a number of countries. I’ve even spoken at the British Embassy in both Lisbon and Budapest.
  • Made my first free course on Udemy and had more than 2000 people sign up for it. You can see the course on my ‘Store’ page here.
  • Had a post go viral online for the first time.
  • Building my credibility in this area with contributions such as this.
  • Experienced flow in my work and constantly learned new things.

What I want the money for

With my business, my plan is that I will ultimately have a mix of consultancy (including speeches, which I have started to be paid for- I have given a great many for free over the course of my career) and products for sale.

The chief product that I see myself selling in the short to medium term is online courses.

I would plan initially to use other people’s platforms- probably Udemy first- and then eventually host it all on my own site so I can add value, build other things around it and make a more sustainable income.

There are a number of reasons why online courses are ideal for me:

  • While I still need a lot of practice with video, I feel naturally confident in front of the camera. In fact, it is the set up and editing which I am less confident about (and which I need your help with, as I’ll explain).
  • I have a great deal of teaching experience. I’ve been a volunteer teacher in Romania, an Assistant Language Teacher for two years in Japan and a private tutor in the UK.
  • I am passionate about the topics I want to teach and feel my passion will shine through- if I can get the other things right.

I have been practising a lot by shooting YouTube videos, shooting live video using Periscope and making my free Udemy course. Here is a review of my course:

‘A lot of helpful tips and things to think about, I think this will have definitely have a positive effect on my networking! It definitely helps when things are logically laid out for you from someone who has clearly put a lot of thought into the subject. Cheers Alex!’

The grant would pay for these main things:

  • camera (s) possibly a main camera and a webcam
  • a very simple lighting system – some ideas for both are here.
  • lavalier mic- maybe from here.
  • proper editing software maybe this.
  • a small amount of advertising for my courses if there was any money left over

This is what I’d estimate it would pay for but I would get the maximum possible out of the grant that I could. I have already been researching for a long time.

Why it would make a real difference

In the early years of my business I am trying to keep my costs low and I don’t have a lot of spare cash.

Feedback from my free Udemy course suggests that the equipment I am asking for is what would make the critical difference- people generally liked my approach and the course materials but they felt that the videos were a bit boring (because I just did to-camera pieces without slides etc). This is the first step that could really establish me- I am sure I could be good at this if I work hard enough.

The subject of influence and of personal branding is increasingly gaining currency. How people present themselves and ‘package’ what they do is only going to become more important with the continuing rise in the number of freelancers; global competition; and a noisy marketplace where you have to be the very best you can be in order to break through with your message. This is a real business opportunity and I am passionate about helping people use their natural talents to make an even bigger difference to the world.

Other reasons I think you should pick me

  • The knock on effect it would have

Aside from the fact that making my first, really high-quality online course would make such a difference to my business, I feel I would get so much value out of the equipment as I could use them for a lot of things in addition to online courses- like a) online training b) webinars c) YouTube videos d) video sequences for automated emails etc.

  • I want The Influence Expert to be a social business

I want it to encourage people to do good things in the world. For example I already have an interview series with people making a difference that I am about to integrate into the site.

This article is a couple of years old but still gives a bit of an idea of my work as a social entrepreneur.

  • I already have a lot of good things in place

As described above I have been taking a lot of steps to grow my business. I have been growing my email list, building my contacts….and growing my influence! Specifically relating to online courses, I have done a lot of research on Udemy including trying other people’s courses, looking into marketing etc.

This feels like the first step that is going to give me the confidence, cash and credibility for years to come

Some testimonials about my work:

Peter Abbott

Deputy Ambassador, British Embassy Lisbon

“Alex has a fantastic ability to make his subject come alive. As inspirational as he is stimulating, you come away from talking to him about influence with a feeling that anything is possible.”

Julia Hobsbawm

Founder Editorial Intelligence and author of ‘Fully Connected’. Hon.Visiting Professor in Networking, London’s Cass Business School and The University of Suffolk

‘Alex Swallow’s energy, dynamism and social conscience is inspiring’

John Miller - Hot John's Homemade Chili

Colin Hayes - M50 Mobile Toll Payment Platform

Yvonne Ivanescu - Now In Rio


Five million travelers visit Rio de Janeiro every single year and yet there still doesn’t exist a comprehensive travel guide to the city that goes beyond the main tourist spots. Tourism is known to provide jobs, spur businesses and connect many industries, but the relationship between traveler and local tourism has yet been fully actualized in Rio – until now. Through the use of captivating videos, stunning photography and expertly written articles, Now in Rio invites readers to explore another side of Rio de Janeiro, famously known as the marvelous city. It will not only provide essential information about the city, but also share engaging, inspirational and informative stories about the people, music, culture, and history of Rio. It seeks to change perspectives, shatter stereotypes and introduce the world to the real Rio de Janeiro: its vibrant communities, delicious local cuisine, thriving underground culture and unbelievably beautiful scenery.

According to SEBRAE-DN/DIEESE (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas-Direção Nacional/Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos)(2012), micro and small companies represent 98.6% of total establishments in the Rio de Janeiro state and contribute to a total of 31.1% remuneration. In fact, throughout the whole of Brazil, micro and small companies generate 15 million formal employment opportunities. Now in Rio is putting small businesses on the digital map for travelers who are accustomed to searching online for travel plans. It has the potential to bring tourism dollars to companies outside of the major resorts and boost local economies while giving travelers a more authentic Rio de Janeiro experience. It aims to connect tourists and readers to SMEs, NGOs, organizations and social enterprises in and around Rio de Janeiro; it is about connecting travelers and locals around a common interest. Now in Rio is an online platform that connects visitors with local, unforgettable experiences. We design and host experiences, curate content, publish stories and work with our community of entrepreneurs and locals to curate compelling information that will leave a positive impact in Rio. At Now in Rio we encourage people to go local; buy local. We support the three pillars of sustainable development. We support economic sustainability, focusing on building linkages and reducing leakages – essentially, keeping the money local. We support sociocultural sustainability, minimizing negative impacts [of tourism] and focusing on more positive ones, such as promoting cultural exchanges and preserving local traditions. Finally, we support environmental sustainability, promoting environmental conservation with a clear commitment to the responsible use of natural resources. Finally Now in Rio seeks to break down stereotypes. Rio is internationally known for its violence, drugs, and favelas and we want to change that. Through Now in Rio, we want to show consumers, readers etc. another side to Rio – the people, culture, history and unbelievable beauty.

The social side of travel is gaining momentum; 2017 was named the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the UN. Now in Rio is a website that shows visitors around – unfiltered access, connections, insights – this is our value-added. Now in Rio caters to those who seek authentic and experiential travel experiences – the social impact traveler. One of our main functions is to play match- maker between discerning clients and well-chosen locals. As a result, our social impact is directly intertwined with our sources of revenue.

Who am I? My name is Yvonne Ivanescu and I am the owner and editor-in-chief of Under the Yew Tree, a website about sustainable travel and also a Ph.D. student at the University of Brussels, specializing in community-based tourism projects in Brazil and digital marketing. I have over 8+ years of experience in communications, writing for print and online publications, and 3+ years of experience in digital marketing. In the past, I’ve worked with Jameson Whiskey, Dragone, Nespresso, Neil Patel, Growth Everywhere and Exposure Ninja. I recently launched my own digital marketing agency [Fernweh Marketing] that specializes in tourism and travel.

We were part of the last round and created a Youtube video that we shared with you, here it is again:

Larissa Baeuml - The Gig Economist
Katja Cof - Shea Butter from Ghana

I am Katja Cof from a small European country, Slovenia. I have been studying cultural anthropology in my country as well as abroad, e.g. in Germany and Ghana. During my studies, I traveled to different countries, mostly to Sub-Saharan Africa, where I, although sounding very cliché, found my heart. I spent quite a lot of time in East African countries and later in West Africa – traveling, volunteering and at the end, doing a long-term fieldwork research for my Master’s degree. Every time I returned to Africa with a tremendous enthusiasm, and I knew that in the future, I want to stay connected with the continent, its people, and cultures in one or another way.

What is my business idea about? Let’s turn back time a bit to see how it all started.

It was January 2016. Normally, this would be a freezing and depressing time of the year here in Slovenia. But no – not this time. It was unbearably hot and the sun was scorching. Obviously, since I was in Ghana, sweating and wiping my sticky hands while holding my camera to film a short ethnographic movie about shea butter processing in the Chanzegu village in the Northern Region of the country. It was not just a regular trip, as my previous trips in Africa. I was there with a different purpose: to do an anthropological research about polygamy for my studies. After I finished with collecting data, I only had few weeks left do complete my aforementioned second project – to film a short movie.

While studying polygamy, I was living with different families. Two wives, three wives, four wives. All the women had so many things in common: plenty of kids, diligence, optimism, altruism and last but not least: a precious skill of making shea butter. In a traditional way, with their bare hands under the mango trees in great outdoors of the ravishing countryside. Day by day, they would meet in the center of the village, bring their kids, poor equipment and, the most important, a lot of energy. I was following them with my camera and try to understand the process of manufacturing shea butter in the very old, traditional way.

Even if I had known their language, I wouldn’t have been able to understand the sequence of the production steps. While trying to get as many actors into a shot as possible, women were curious why did Tunteya – this is the name given to me by locals – want to film a movie about them. Then, one of them told me: “Tunteya, you should help us. Buy some of our shea butter, we can do a business together!” And so I did. I bought some of their organic shea butter, brought it home and gave it to my family and friends. Everybody loved it. Because a good name is better than riches, people started calling me if I still had some of, as most of them would call it, “organic, high quality and miracle shea butter from Ghana”.

At that time I seriously started to flirt with the idea of working together with the women from “my Ghanaian families”. I attended startup school of entrepreneurship with social impact in my country, start gathering all elementary information on laws, and regulations about cosmetics, importing, selling etc. When I returned to Ghana and told to the women I want to collaborate with them, they started dancing and clapping. This was a confirmation that starting a social enterprise to help and support women of Northern Ghana, a vulnerable group, is the right path to follow.

Now, as a freshly graduated cultural anthropology student living in a country, where finding a job is more difficult than climbing the highest mountain, my amazing business idea is put on hold due to a lack of capital. To establish a company where shea butter will be produced in Ghana, then exported from Ghana to Europe and afterward sold to individuals and cosmetic companies is something that needs a lot of starting capital. Shea butter is a cosmetic product and European Union cosmetic regulation is a big obstacle since it requires a lot of costly analysis before I can put the product on shelves. As a distributor, one has to ensure that shea butter undergoes an expert scientific safety assessment before it is sold. Not to mention all the other required or highly recommended certificates, such as an ecological certificate, fair trade certificate, trademark registration, etc. Furthermore, the biggest costs for my social enterprise would be facilities construction work in the Ghanaian village. Currently, these women do not have any commonly organized working place. They do not have the right equipment and safe devices. My strong desire is to build up a simple, but a safe working place, where they can work in any weather conditions and be without fear of being burned by the fire while cooking oil as the last step in a long shea butter process. I want to give them a place, where they would be away from their husbands and male authority and where they would bring their kids. I want these women to know that they exist, that their work matters, that their traditional knowledge and skills are precious, and that they can be economically independent of their husbands.

Further, to realize this plan, I would have to establish women shea butter cooperative, in which the women from Changezu and possibly surrounding villages would have the chance to get the cooperative membership. When joining Tunteya Shea Butter Women Cooperative, they would have the possibility of signing a work contract and finally be able to get a job and more importantly, to generate their income. Selling shea butter continuously would ensure economic independence to the women. Shea butter production under an organized cooperation is a good way for women empowerment and it can contribute to a better life standard of women who make shea butter day by day.

Where there is a will, there is a way they say, but due to my current unemployed status, something more is required. Therefore, receiving any grant and financial support from different sources would aid in the realization of my wrought business plan. Only, in this case, the future Tunteya Shea Butter Women Cooperative can come into life. The sooner the better.

Shea butter production. Malshegu, Northern Ghana (2015)

Madam Memunatu. Chanzegu, Northern Ghana (2016)

Ready to be sold. Malshegu, Northern Ghana (2015)

Tunteya with the shea butter producers. Chanzegu, Northern Ghana (2017)

Rose Thomas - Skinradia

Hi, my name is Rose and my business is “Skinradia by Rose”.

My Dream is to make a difference with my high quality range of natural/eco-friendly/organic and cruelty free skincare – to create a brand that has worth, a brand built on trust, a brand that over-delivers for maximum customer satisfaction with products that are not only delicious to use but guarantee real and lasting results.

My Aim is to set myself up as an expert in natural skincare and to promote an awareness and recognition of the very viable alternatives that are available to chemical-laden and animal-tested big brand products. I have already written an informational book on the subject which I self-published on Kindle and which attracted some very encouraging reviews.

My Business is selling PL natural/eco-friendly/organic and cruelty-free skincare via Amazon FBA…initially within the UK with a view to expanding into the US market if things go well. I have chosen this platform because – as sole 24/7 carer for my mum over 9 years I have very little income and even less time to run a conventional business. Eventually I aim to promote my products to eco-friendly establishments both in the UK and abroad.

I have applied for trade-marking of my brand-name” SKINRADIA by Rose” and once the tm comes through (September 25th) I will be eligible to apply for brand registry on Amazon and launch my first products. My suppliers are currently designing the Skinradia website and this will be ready to go live by the end of September. They are working with me on every aspect of the business.

I would be very grateful of a grant – however small – to help take the business forward on a surer footing. I am struggling to fund the purchase of stock, shipping costs and subsequent advertising once my product goes live, and this concerns me as I believe first impressions of a new business to be vital. I want the face of Skinradia to present with confidence from the start, as I believe this brand has what it takes to succeed.

Following is my “brand story” and logo/design which I hope you will enjoy.

Welcome To SKINRADIA:  Your Way To Radiant, Glowing Skin And The Freedom To Be Naturally You

My name is Rose and I’m the face behind SKINRADIA , a company that delivers uniquely beautiful products created with respect:  respect for our planet and all life on it, respect for the environment we live in, and respect for you our friends and followers with whom we want to share our dream of a better world.

Every great idea is born from the need to solve a great problem, and mine was no different. During more than 20 years spent working in health care I developed a professional interest and insight into the fascinating subject that is our skin – how it is such a fantastic barometer by which to judge a person’s overall health and lifestyle…how adversely it reacts to certain factors such as illness, constant pain, poor diet or the ageing process to name but a few

I believe that our skin is the mirror of our overall health, and that the only way to keep it looking radiant, regenerated and relaxed is from the inside out – not from expensive anti-ageing creams which only temporarily mask the problems of ageing, rather like papering over the cracks in a wall or spraying over a deep scratch on the bodywork of your car.  Yes you can cover up the blemish, but you are now blind to the rot that continues to eat away at the bodywork underneathI’m sure you agree that to plaster expensive lotions and potions on top of dull, lifeless, poorly nourished or problem skin is something of a waste of hard-earned cash?  The continued health and appearance of your skin needs first to be addressed at source with lifestyle/diet changes – then by using a range of natural products that work to encourage the skin’s natural processes of cell renewal and production of its own natural oils known as NFMs (Natural Moisturising Factors).  In an ideal world your skin should never need added moisturiser which can actually compromise its ability to repair and moisturize itself (Curious??  Stay tuned!)

It’s a sad fact that the majority of big companies in this multi-million pound industry do not care about this – they do not care about you or I Millions of pounds are spent annually in advertising alone, to prey on the four most compelling emotions of women when it comes to their looks:  Dread:  Fear:  Vanity:  Desire (more on this later…).  And their driving force is profit.  Yes, applying any kind of moisturiser will indeed smooth and condition the surface cells on your skin, giving the illusion of plumped-up radiant skin.  Yes, the sensation of deliciously rich cream on your skin gives a certain feeling of decadence, like biting into a gooey cake (or whatever your poison happens to be!).  But mostly that is all it is, mere comfort food for the skin with little nutritional value and the potential to do more harm than good in the long run.  Have you ever stopped using moisturiser for a week or two to notice how your skin – at best – has gone back to how it was before, and at worst is even drier and with an increased risk of frictional damage and wrinkle development?  It is our general misunderstanding as consumers with regard both to the structure and functions of our skin and to the “small print on the bottle”, that big skincare companies rely on heavily to rake in their profits

The need to raise awareness about proper skin care, as well as the need for a safe, natural and reliable line of sensational skin care products was appearing more pressing by the day…particularly as it became apparent that the majority of people are most comfortable having the reassurance – psychological dependence, even –of physical products to put on their skin as part of their daily skin care routine.

And That Is How SKINRADIA Was Born!

We’re a small but passionate company with a singular goal in mind: we aim to provide our customers with a range of skin care products created exclusively with beautiful natural, organic, living ingredients – ingredients that are 100% safe with no polluting or carcinogenic agents ever…yet at the same time yield exquisite results by promoting the maximum skin renewal and nourishment necessary for a more natural, more beautiful you.  Our products are formulated to be anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle and anti-oxidant.  They will enhance and maintain the youthful appearance of young skin, but will hit ageing, wrinkled and problem skin where it hurts – at source.

We admit to a certain obsession in perfection!  Each and every one of our products is handmade and synergistically blended by a dedicated team of professionals (bio chemist, herbalist, nutritionist, naturopathic doctor, derma-hygienist, and scientific aromatherapist) in a lab environment that adheres to the strictest professional regulations and standards.  Our formulations are simple – pure plant and flower essences (a select few of our products contain organic goat’s milk from a herd of very pampered and free-living goats!) with powerful actives that have no need for synthetic substances or chemical ingredients to unleash the unique perfection of your skin.

All our organic suppliers are certified or have met and excelled industry standards for many years, and are people like us; passionate about health, the environment, and creating quality, ethical and result-driven products.

What’s more, we guarantee that none of our products or ingredients are at any stage tested on animals – not ever.

We’re aware, however, that “just” providing top-notch quality, natural products is not going to cut it – not in today’s fiercely demanding world. That’s why we also aim to educate our customers and impart to them all our knowledge and expertise.  In addition to diet and lifestyle tips we’ll be looking at topics that are a bit more “outside the box” – like the vital connection between circulation and your skin: why using moisturiser can actually be bad for your skin: the number one reason why you would do well to avoid creams containing collagen or elastin (skin-care companies will not want you to know this).

And we’re glad to be able to say that all that attention to detail and quality actually pays off!  We’re already starting to enjoy a growing portfolio of satisfied and enthusiastic customers, the best possible proof that our base principles of quality, reliability, and absolute honesty do not go unnoticed!

Welcome To SKINRADIA  and to the best version of you, you ever knew!

“Simply Because it Works”

Ps  We are currently promoting our signature product – the SKINRADIA Spa-in-a-Bar.  Stay Tuned For Our Upcoming Products!

Rafa Maslanka - Fun Cutlery


Note: This was a very long application with lots of tables and competitor analysis. I have cut it down to fit on this page. 

My name is Rafal and I would like to introduce you my business plan and take part in the entrepreneurship grant application.

First of all, I congratulate you on a wonderful blog which really changes my life. Thanks to your articles I began to explore the world of entrepreneurship. I am very grateful for that. I’ve incorporated a company, I made some nice money from matched betting, and following your example i wish launch my physical product.

That’s why I’m here. I want to check if my product and business plan is right and will have any good reviews.

My first business idea is 150 Colourful Cutlery Sets. I’ve launched my domain for future online shop, done market research and my manufacturer is ready.

What the grant will do for my product:
It will allow me to bring the product to market faster (maybe even 1 colour version more)
It will help me cover the costs of graphic designs and create the right image for my business
It will speed up work on launching an online store

Here is my business plan.


My business idea is 150 Colorful Cutlery Set

Having worked for several years at the Sales and Purchasing Specialist position, I have gained valuable experience in communicating with clients and vendors. I think it will make it easier for me to negotiate with manufacturers and sellers. I was also responsible for the supply chain, but it was only on a country scale and now I want to learn how to run my business on a global scale.

I have started attending the The International Trade (Import – Export) course which will help me understand my role as an import-export agent. I will learn How to set up my business, how to source products and suppliers, how to find buyers and sellers, banking and foreign exchange procedures, how to find the right freight forwarder, Customs procedures for Importing and Exporting, Marketing, Laws and Regulations and how to succeed in international business.

  • Why do you want to run your own business?

I want to be financially independent

  • What knowledge/experience do you have of the industry you propose to work in and what training have you completed?

I’m in the middle of the International Trade (Import / Export) course led by International Career Institute

  • List details of your Personal Strengths & Weaknesses e.g. Skills and Character.

Good Communication Skills, Flexibility and Adaptability, Optimism, Risk taker, Decisive, Multitasking, Passionate, Results-orientated

  • What do you hope to have achieved with the business in one & three years’ time?
    • Increase the selection of available colours from two to five in one year
    • Create a new website for my business by December 31stutilizing a website development company to build the site and create a payment interface
    • Increase Customer Satisfaction Score to 90% in one year
    • Introduce two new products during two years
    • Introduce my products for sale in stationary stores (High Street)


150 Colourful Fun Cutlery Set

  • Usefully set of knives x50, spoons x50, forks x50 in one pack.
  • 5 Colours to choose
  • They are perfect for serving meal at outdoor events or picnic!
  • The set is convenient for outdoor dining and easy to carry
  • Made from premium quality recyclable plastic to reduce the impact to our environment.
  • Heat-resistant
  • Reusable
  • Unique design
  • Heavy-duty
  • Reinforced and non-breaking


Lianne Bell - Enchanted Rebels


I have always had an interest in business and sustainability and during my final year of university in London, whilst studying Fashion Marketing, I decided to write my dissertation on the environmental impact of the ‘fast fashion’ business model and I was hooked. Upon graduation I secured a graduate position with a major high street retailer and promptly learnt how not to run a business in the 21st century. My head is always full of new ideas, I absorb the world I see around me. And to me that world is heading to a more sustainable way of living in the form of the circular economy.. I realised that doing pointless paperwork in an office on Oxford Street would not quench the thirst of my insatiable desire to make a difference in the world. Much to my parents dismay I promptly handed in my notice and got a job as a waitress at a burger restaurant in Camden.

Fast forward a few years and my business, Enchanted Rebels, launched just under 12 months ago. The idea to take the plunge finally came after a long evening glugging sauvignon blanc with my Mum. I would say we haven’t looked back since but there have been many times when I would have gladly ran back to the start line if it was an option. But isn’t that the beauty of having your own business, every day is a learning curve and it’s utterly terrifying. I love it. Our debut collection was manufactured in India using 100% organic cotton in a Fairwear registered factory. Everyone involved in the supply chain has been paid a living wage, this was very important to us, ethics and sustainability are at the forefront of our business model. Indeed we recently set up an account with microfinance company, lend with care. We think it’s important to give back so £1 from each garment we sell will go into our lend with care account to contribute to business loans for budding entrepreneurs in developing countries.

We did hours of research and a stellar business plan before we launched but being new to ecommerce we made one rookie mistake and that was that we seriously underestimated the capital required for digital marketing. This has seriously hindered our cash flow. We now require a cash injection to sell the remaining collection to a new market which will require a new round of advertising tests.

The grant would enable us to make two promotional videos and run a set of ads at new audience segments in a new market. The ads will allow us not only to make conversions but also to raise brand awareness and increase our social media following.

Guillaume de Rouville - Posture Correcting T-Shirts

The business plan is very cool and animated, but it is created in such a way that I cannot embed it into this page. It is well worth checking out, here is the link:

Stuart Priest - York Circus School

York Circus School – a Social Enterprise


I am applying for this grant to help me purchase the initial equipment required for setting up the York’s first ever Circus School.

About Me: I am currently a High Performance Computing Manager for the University of York; however, through a cost-cutting centralisation process I am about to be made redundant thus enabling me to start something new and exciting!  Since my hobbies include circus related skills, and the fact that I very much enjoy working with children I have had the very exciting idea to start a circus school in York (the nearest circus school is 25 miles away in Leeds)!

Initial Aim: To provide an amazing learning experience for primary school aged children through being taught various circus skills in fun and exciting workshops.  These workshops will be designed to be more than just “different” PE lessons: since I am also a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador, students will find themselves learning about gravity, patterns, logical thinking and choreography, both individually and in group work.
In the first year, I will aim to deliver these workshops to as many primary schools in the York area as possible and I will prioritise visiting schools that can be visited on a regular basis.  However, in the first couple of months I will start with targeting 2 schools that already know me well, and offer them free sessions in order to test and refine the lessons.  This will help build credibility for the business and allow word of mouth to spread the news of what my business can offer other schools.

Medium Term Aim: After the first few terms I hope to build up enough enthusiasm in the children to consider opening after-school clubs in order to be able to start teaching some more advanced skills such as unicycling and slacklining.  At this point I will seek out potential volunteers to help teach juggling and slacklining.

Longer Term Aim: Once the business has grown I will then aim to find a suitable venue to hire/buy as a permanent base.  This will give the York Circus School opportunities to introduce aerial circus skills and acrobatics.  At this point I will be seeking to employ instructors to join the teaching team.   It is also hoped that the venue can be shared with the York juggling community and the York slacklining community.

Seed financing: My imminent redundancy pay-out will help cover the initial start-up salary costs for the first 6 months.  My application for your entrepreneur grant, if successful, will enable me to buy the equipment needed for the schools’ work and after-school clubs.  I will aim to get funding from PE and Sport Premium government funding so that I can provide the workshops at little or no cost to the schools.

Looking further ahead, when I am at the stage of buying/renting a building for the circus school, I plan to apply to charities for funding.  Because of this long-term goal I plan to start the business as a Community Interest Company, CIC (a CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders), which will then enable the York Circus School to apply for charitable grants.

Research: I am currently a regular visitor to 8 York schools through running either lessons as a STEM Ambassador or as a York Schools and Youth Trust volunteer helping to run assemblies and lessons.  From all the staff I have talked with over the past few months, including 6 friends who are teachers (2 of which are acting heads), there has been overwhelming enthusiasm concerning the idea of the business, including several who have already asked “when can we book you in?”.  I have done broader searches in the York area and there appears to be no individuals or organization providing circus training for schools.

I have looked around at the UK national scene, and broadly speaking there are scattered pockets of either individuals or small companies providing circus training around the country, and most of these are charging in the order of £200-300 a day with the schools paying for this from their PE and Sport Premium government fund (an average 200 pupil Primary School receives £18,000/year from this fund).  Therefore, there is much potential for starting a financially viable York Circus School business.

Personnel: Initially it will be just myself.

Personnel Skills: juggling of scarves, balls and clubs; club, flag and poi swinging; hand walking; unicycling; slacklining

The Timetable!

Year 1

1.0 Create business plan

1.1 Seek investment and grants

1.2 Open the York Circus School as a Community Interest Company

2.0 Contact primary schools and gain interest

2.1 Check school insurance cover

3.0 Buy initial equipment and insurance cover

3.1 Plan trial lessons for up to 2 schools

3.2 Run PE lessons

4.0 After initial trial lessons seek possibilities of running after-school club

4.1 Look to involve local slacklining and juggling communities

Year 2

1.0 Seek further funding

1.1 Look to hire/buy building for after-school/evening with possibility of slacklining and aerial work

1.2 Investigate insurance for building and associated circus work

1.3 Buy year 2 equipment

1.4 Advertise for teaching staff to join the team

SUMMARY: Thank you very much for reading this plan for my start-up business.  If you should award the grant to me, it would be an extremely gratefully received boost to getting the initial equipment bought for this exciting new adventure.

Yours gratefully

Stuart Priest

York, UK