Home Kent Business Top 30 Under 30
The Top 30 Under 30 list recognises the county's most exciting young entrepreneurs.
The guide, published by the KM Group, has been put together by an independent panel of Kent-based judges selected from a cross-section of industries and young people’s organisations.
Each entrant was judged based on their achievements to date, perceived influence and their potential to change the course of commerce in the future, both nationally and in Kent.
It reveals who are the county's people-to-watch, not just for the future, but today.
Click on each entrepreneur on the list to read about their work.
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It was always going to be very hard to avoid putting Mr Towers at the peak of the Top 30 Under 30 list. He set up his first business aged 11, creating websites for friends and family, and today employs more than 15 people at his firm Towers Design, which has worked with over 700 companies. He has used his youth to open doors rather than treat it as a barrier, gaining national press for cleverly employing himself as an apprentice at his own company so he could leave school and keep running his business. A sought-after public speaker, at one point he was the youngest member of the Federation of Small Businesses and is a regular at networking events across Kent. His pals include business presenter Steph McGovern, who did a feature on him for BBC Breakfast after meeting him on the set of new CBBC show Pocket Money Pitch, which started last month. He acts as a ‘business buddy’ on the show, giving young entrepreneurs barely a few years younger than him the benefit of experiences many would consider beyond his age. He is also running a business school for young people called Next Gen Business Team and seeking funding for a business social media tool Social Marley. Placed at No1 in the Times Magazine Superteen Power List last year, he impressed the judges in the Top 30 Under 30 with his acheivements to date and his growing influence in the business world.
Originally an A-level engineering project from his time at King’s School, Canterbury, he has developed a product which caught the eye of Sir Richard Branson. The sensor he designed tracks how much gas is left in a canister and sends a message to the owner’s smartphone explaining how much fuel is left and estimates when it will run out. Helpful for campers and barbecuers, he raised £15,000 in a successful crowdfunding campaign before attracting a £19,000 Virgin Start-Up Loan. He was invited to meet Sir Richard Branson in Detroit who described him as “brilliant example of an entrepreneur making real headway”. A US retailer recently bought 450,000 units.
The current holder of the KEiBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize, she has 10 years experience in digital and offline marketing. She is managing director of Reflect Digital, an agency she launched in 2011 which designs and builds websites, magazines, logos and offers expertise on search engine optimisation and social media. She has taken the firm from her bedroom to an office in Turkey Mill employing more than 20 people. An alumni of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, her customers include Tottenham Hotspur and mattress maker Sleepeezee, with her firm managing budgets of up to £100,000.
On work experience for his construction management degree at Loughborough University, Mr Coppen had a eureka moment. After tripping over cables on a building site, he invented a range of hooks and hangers which keep wires off the floor and improve safety. His inventions have been used on projects like the Olympic Park and Battersea Power Station.
A web developer who has worked for Sky and Noble Group, Mr Nuaman has developed software which has caught the eye of retailers. His firm Scout Solutions places sensors across a shopping centre or high street and monitors shoppers’ behaviour by accessing their mobile phones. Although it cannot access personal data, it can tell clients which websites consumers are visiting and track where footfall is strongest. Customers include Topman and Specsavers.
This baking blogger’s sensationally sweet tooth has earned her a following of more than 9,000 people on Twitter and over 3,000 people on Instagram. She is writing her first cookery book and has given talks internationally about her journey from depression to an award-winning business woman. She works as a cake-decorating teacher and is a former winner at the Kent Independent Trader Awards.
In the short time since she opened her menswear store in West Malling, this retail enthusiast has represented the UK at a young entrepreneur’s summit in Athens, attended a business reception at 10 Downing Street with David Cameron and spoke on behalf of start ups at the House of Lords. The shop is supported by an online store, selling various little-known brands.
A specialist in mobile websites, her marketing agency has gained Google partner status. A freelance consultant for 18 months, she launched her business in September 2013, winning a 14-month campaign with ferry operator DFDS Seaways. Her firm was a winner at the Kent Independent Traders Awards, where it was named Marketing and PR Business of the Year.
Starting his company after an accident put him out of work for six months, his nutrition and supplements business has capitalised on the nation’s health and fitness obsession. Since launching in 2009, it has sold into more than 250 countries and achieved sales of more than £1.5 million. The University of Kent alumni is a former KEiBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner.
The first of three digital marketing agency bosses to make it into the top 10. He started his first business aged 13, running a website-hosting service for friends. After graduating with a distinction from Kent Business School at the University of Kent he launched uTargeting, which he changed to Digital Beans. An expert in SEO, his firm is an official Google partner.
He launched his data centre business as a hobby while he was still at school and now, 11 years later, operates from three data centres in Maidstone Studios, New York and Frankfurt. The firm runs single servers up to private clouds for more than 2,000 customers in over 70 countries. His business has carved a niche as an affordable solution for small businesses thanks to a philosophy “not try to stretch their budgets without valid reason”.
The managing director and founder of both firms, she has carved out her place as the queen of freshly-press vegetable juice in Kent. The Juice Executive sells private label cold-pressed juices to e-commerce businesses, juice bars and retailers. Think Press, which launched last year, is an online subscription service for health-conscious consumers, all bottled at a 2,200 sq ft juicing factory in Lordswood, supplied with fresh produce each day.
A former cabin crew member for Virgin Atlantic who began selling tailor-made vacations for Virgin Holidays, she decided to launch her own business after building up a portfolio of repeat clients. She was a franchise owner under the Travel Counsellors brand, creating luxury holidays for clients, before setting up iCharter on her own two years ago, doing the same thing as her own boss. Now based at Medway Innovation Centre, she has launched an office in Dubai serving wealthy sunseekers.
The pair launched their video marketing agency in 2012 to produce corporate material for organisations across the South East. So far they have picked up clients including the BBC, ITV, KCC, National Trust and BMW. The Canterbury Christ Church University graduates – who both achieved first class honours degrees in film and television studies – also make music videos and wedding films.
A social media and tech expert, he was just 21 when he set up his own media business Vine Publishing. He co-founded advertising agency Yellowball, whose clients include Knight Frank, Sevenoaks School and Crowe Clark Whitehill. His latest venture is Idea Drop, an online platform for sharing ideas and getting feedback from the community, without it being stolen. A former winner of KEiBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year, he speaks at conferences and seminars throughout the UK.
This wildlife enthusiast set up company with his father selling edible insects, securing the right to use I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here’s branding. Last year they sold more than 100,000 packets of their ‘edible novelties’ into 27 countries. The firm won KEiBA Start-Up of the Year in 2014. He started Claws and Jaws aged 17, taking venomuos snakes, birds of prey and spiders to children’s parties, schools and fairs.
In truth Mr Bliss should be alongside his business partner Chris Mead on this list, who misses out on eligability after turning 30 just last month. The pair set up their digital marketing and creative agency originally under the name Ten & Bourne. Now rebranded as Brave Little Tank, its clients include Sony and EA Sports. Mr Bliss has been involved with web projects for 15 years, having previously co-founded and closed GigOwl, an online music marketplace.
An A-level student at Rainham Mark Grammar School, he is on track to sell 10,000 units of his smartphone accessory Magniband less than a year after launching. The brightly-coloured band is a macro lens which magnifies camera phone images by four times. Costing just £4.99, he has set his sights on stocking his product in a major retailer by the end of the year.
A social media and digital marketing executive for Fruitbowl Media, she decided to set up her own business after seeing the audio technology used at SxSW festival in Texas. She founded Violet Vibes last year selling personalised and patterned Bluetooth speakers. Her website doubles up as a blog on up-and-coming musicians and bands.
A finalist at this year’s Taste of Kent Awards, he makes gourmet cookies using an old family recipe and sells them at farmers’ markets around Kent. He has kept a lid on costs by only baking when the weather is forecast to be good, promising high footfall at the outdoor events he supplies. Now the firm is supplying packs to networking events and corporate meetings.
The joint owner of this corporate team-building firm runs its finances, payroll, HR and business development. along with business partner and fiance Richard she manages six teams of 40 staff travelling all over the UK to provide problem solving events and challenging days out for schools and businesses. After years running a large council activity centre, the pair had a vision to create a mobile service to take the same activities run at outdoor centres to a range of venues.
This make-up artist and massage therapist has mainly worked on weddings for six years but has carved out a niche by using organic products. Time working for Neal’s Yard remedies and Lush Cosmetics has taught her about plant products. In January, she set up a cosy retreat in Burwash, East Sussex, for people to visit and have treatments, carving out her foothold across the Weald.
The owner and principal of one of the few Kent schools to have recognised status with the Council for Dance Education and Training. She is responsible for a team of 10 teachers and administrative staff, and approximately 300 students. As well as teaching ballet, modern and tap, she is the UK representative for Reach USA Talent based in New York City.
Brides and grooms across the county recommend this guy, whose reputation has spread largely thanks to Facebook. He set up after his next door neighbour asked him to film their wedding and offered to film others for free to build his portfolio. He launched Talking Fly in 2012 and has become one of the county’s most respected videographers.
The pair set up their digital agency, originally under the name Flowbox Design, which has created websites, mobile apps and brands for clients around the world. They launched the firm in 2012 straight after leaving Maidstone Grammar School and have picked up work for Maidstone Borough Council, University of Kent and Morgan Sindall.
A business studies graduate from Canterbury Christ Church University, he decided to set up his own business to avoid doing a job he did not enjoy. He launched Mint Fresh Services last year and quickly built up a long list of testimonials for his household, office and carpet cleaning and car valeting.
The creative director and founder of this live entertainment firm, which supplies performers to corporate events. She has worked professionally as a dancer since she was 19 and graduated from the Urdang Academy in London. Her company has performed shows in Monte Carlo and ExCeL in London. Her auditions are done from a “performer’s point of view” to take away the ruthless aspect of working in the entertainment industry.
After qualifying as personal trainer aged 18 she set up this nutrition coaching and fitness business to educate people about wellbeing and health. She picked up much of her natural remedy knowledge on an 18-month backpacking trip across the globe and has put her experience into 10-week courses which she runs for hard-working professionals who want to make a change in their life.
She co-founded her website design and consultancy company with her husband Chris, who just misses out on inclusion in the list on account of turning 30 in September. A former tutor with Kent Adult Education, she launched the firm in 2014 and moved to Maidstone’s Business Terrace last year. As director of design and interaction, she specalises in making user-friendly websites for start ups.
On the sofa for this episode is Dominic Deeson, a Kent ambassador for the Institute of Directors and publisher at Deeson Group. He spoke about the impact of the Autumn Statement and the way Black Friday is changing shopping.
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