Growth firms aim for date with Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden
Nicola and Brent Lewis,
founders of Aylesford-based FooARage
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Wood, skateboards and clothes for breast-feeding mums – that's
the lineup for the Kent final of a media campaign to boost small
Local Business Accelerators, backed by Prime Minister David
Cameron, business secretary Vince Cable, Dragons' Den
star Deborah Meaden and big-name business groups, is now in
its second year.
Devised by the Newspaper Society and backed by publishing
companies including the KM Group, it attracted more than 50
applicants from across Kent and Medway, and some 2,000
Three winners were chosen from eight Kent finalists after a
challenging Dragons' Den-style presentation.
Bertie's Wood Fuel, FooARage and Milk Chic/Armed and Glamorous
impressed judges, but it was a close run thing - with the
other finalists demonstrating the quality of businesses in the
Melanie Brooks, founder
of Maidstone-based Milk Chic and Armed and Glamorous
The winning trio have won free advertising in the multimedia KM
Group newspapers and online, and free mentoring by experts at
Reeves, the accounting and business advisory firm in Canterbury and
Hadlow-based Bertie's, founded by Peter Tweddell, supplies
high-quality wood fuel, kiln dried and seasoned logs, kindling and
wood briquettes for open fires, stoves and log burners.
FooARage, a skateboard academy founded by Nicola Lewis and based
in Larkfield, is a community interest company that helps young
people - many disengaged from society - to take a new
view on life by designing and building a skateboard or longboard.
It also supports skate venues such as Cyclopark
Melanie Brooks, from Maidstone, promotes fashion for
breast-feeding mothers through her MilkChic business, and sleeved
garments through her Armed and Glamorous enterprise.
One of the three will go through to the regional final this
summer, with the prospect of a national final appearance - judged
by scheme ambassador Deborah Meaden - in October.
Peter Tweddell, founder
of Hadlow-based Bertie's Wood Fuel
Tim Levey, a partner with Reeves and one of the judges, said:
"Overall the three winners are as strong as those that we picked
last year and once again they come from a diverse range of
"Melanie, who runs the Armed and Dangerous and Milk Chic
websites, has clearly spotted some great opportunities in the
crowded internet marketplace great ideas but needs some help and
support to develop them to the point where they really take
"Bertie's Wood Fuels has really hit the ground running and is
continuing to experience fast growth. They also have plenty of
plans in the pipeline that will sustain their expansion into other
areas so that they will have a regional, rather than just a local
"And FooARage has successfully tapped into the skateboarding
sub-culture with a range of revenue generating activities which
they are still getting to grips with, but show great promise."
For the full story, see Kent Business - out this week inside
most KM Group paid-for newspapers.