Introducing the 2020 Great British Entrepreneurs Champions Hall of Fame Inductees

Three new individuals were inducted into the Great British Entrepreneurs Champions Hall of Fame at our virtual regional finals last week after we announced UBS Wealth Management as its new sponsor.

Julie Deane OBE, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, John Stapleton, founder of New Covent Garden Soup Co and Little Dish., and Ajaz Ahmed, founder of the UK’s largest internet company, Freeserve all joined an illustrious group of the biggest supporters of entrepreneurship in our community.

We launched the Great British Entrepreneurs Champions Hall of Fame in 2019, recognising 14 individuals with a long-term record of combining their outstanding entrepreneurial achievements with a sustained commitment to supporting entrepreneurial talent throughout the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and other partner programmes.

Over the past eight years we have built a supportive and connected ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors through the Awards. The community of business talent and support that the Awards have brought together has thrived beyond what we ever imagined. At the heart of the community is a panel of judges who work to support and champion entrepreneurs of all stages.

Julie Deane has a longer history than most when it comes to GBEA. She won three awards at the very first Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2013, including being named the very first Great British Entrepreneur of the Year. And she has since joined us again as a key member of the judging panel.

Julie and her mother Freda started The Cambridge Satchel Company at their kitchen table in Cambridge with a budget of only £600 and one goal – to make enough money to send Julie’s children to a better school. The company was an instant hit with the bags featuring in Italian Vogue in its first year, and soon became a big hit with some of the celebrity and fashion worlds’ most influential individuals.

On being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Julie said: “[Having someone or something to support you] is a good barometer [of performance], because who else is going to keep an eye on you and be there in a supportive way, and celebrate when you think you’ve got so much on your plate that you’re not going to step back and think ‘It’s amazing we got that contract or make that product’. Entrepreneurs sometimes aren’t the best at celebrating, and celebrating is so important to keep going for when the rubbish times happen. They happen too and it’s all part of the journey. Learning to celebrate and recognise when you are doing something well is invaluable.”

Ajaz Ahmed has been a Great British Entrepreneur Awards judge since 2017. A serial entrepreneur, he is best known as the founder of Freeserve, once the UK’s internet largest company which was sold to France Telecom just three years after launch for £1.65 billion.

Asked why supporting entrepreneurs was so important to him, Ajaz said: “I remember what it was like when I was trying to set my business up. You knock on the door and someone says ‘No’. Then you knock the next door and they say ‘No’. It’s very, very difficult. I’ve been very successful in business and I need to give something back and help people, people who’ve got ideas, who are trying to get their business off the ground.”

John Stapleton is a serial entrepreneur in the food industry but is best known as the founder of New Covent Garden Soup Co. in 1987 and Little Dish in 2005. He is now a speaker, mentor and thought leader, known as the ‘Authentic Entrepreneur’ who believes that authenticity is the best way to create and grow businesses. John joined the judging panel in 2019 and quickly established himself as one of the community’s most ardent supporters.

He said: “Entrepreneurs, as far as I’m concerned, are responsible for so much good about the economy, about society and frankly, about fulfilling dreams. Right now, more than ever, we’re living through so much uncertainty. I’m convinced, however, that uncertainty is the friend of the entrepreneur. Through uncertainty, entrepreneurs can build a competitive advantage. That’s so much easier said than done, and that’s why it’s so important to support entrepreneurs today.”

Tom Camber, Executive Director at UBS Wealth Management said: “As the new sponsor of the GBEA Hall of fame we were delighted to be involved with the recent regional finals. The evening was a huge success which is even more impressive given the tumultuous times we find ourselves in.

“The sheer volume of entrepreneurial talent displayed shows that the current uncertainty has not lessened the resolve of UK entrepreneurs to strive for excellence.  Never before has the UK needed the grit and determination demonstrated by the new inductees into the Hall of Fame. UBS feels very strongly about supporting and championing entrepreneurs on their journey and we look forward to working with the GBEA and Hall of Fame members.”

You can view the full list of inductees in the Great British Entrepreneurs Champions Hall of Fame sponsored by UBS Wealth Management here.