Shaking Hands crowned Croydon young entrepreneurs 2016

Croydon Entrepreneurs Crowned winners of Prize Fund

             Laurence Grant & Rob O’Sullivan – Shaking Hands Young Start-up Talent winners Croydon 2016

             Laurence Grant & Rob O’Sullivan – Shaking Hands Young Start-up Talent winners Croydon 2016

On Thursday 7th July Fairfield Halls played host to this year’s Young Start-up Talent showcase where one successful business was chosen to walk away with a £50k prize fund worth of business products and services.  The initiative, which is set to seek out the region’s most promising entrepreneurial spirit, whittled a range of applicants from across Croydon down to a final six entrepreneurs. Robert O’sullivan and Laurence Grant were crowned this year’s winners with their business – Shaking Hands Interactive Partnership (SHIP), a platform for Croydon-based small-medium business owners to inform, smarten and grow their businesses. Laurence said “We are so thrilled to have been chosen as this year’s Croydon winner, this experience has been invaluable and the year head looks very exciting.”

The process began in April when selected applicants took part in a business-know how workshop followed by a 121 speed networking event at Jurys Inn Croydon. After having their businesses scrutinised by sponsors from across the region, a final four were chosen to face a panel of business professionals. It was at this stage that finalists battled it out to take home the prize fund worth up to £50k of business products and services that can help their business take flight.

Three guest speakers featured at the showcase event, shining a light on the significance of the initiative. Attendees heard from 2015 Croydon winner, Stephanie Kane who is making her mark on the creative community of Croydon with her quick-selling paintings. Other guest speakers included successful young entrepreneur and winner of the YST Kent region, Dean Day who is CEO of up and coming Indie games studio – Greenlight Games and loyal Croydon sponsor, Simon Maddox who said “It’s been incredible working with these guys, seeing their enthusiasm andseeing a great idea flourish. Stephanie’s story this year has just been amazing and to be part of it is just heart-warming.”

With 2016 marking the initiative’s second year in Croydon, judge Mark Burgess of Natwest commented “They’ve all got excellent ideas, I think they all presented perfectly and I’m sure they’ll all go on and move on to bigger and greater things in whatever path they choose.”

                                             Young Start-up Talent finalist and judges Croydon 2016

                                             Young Start-up Talent finalist and judges Croydon 2016

Other finalists who faced the panel with their impressive pitches included Kurtis Peck, 17, Serena Evans, 16 and 22 year old duo Harry Flaherty and Maddie Ellison.

                                                  Young Start-up Talent Croydon 2016 finalists                    (Left – Harry Flaherty, Laurence Grant, Robert O’Sullivan, Kuris Peck, Serena Evans)

                                                  Young Start-up Talent Croydon 2016 finalists
                 (Left – Harry Flaherty, Laurence Grant, Robert O’Sullivan, Kuris Peck, Serena Evans)

Reflecting on the initiative, Annabel Fogden of The Croydon Chamber of Commerce said “It’s a really inspiring, creative and supportive process which is great for young people in business.”

The initiatives newest sponsor, Morton Michel attended the evening, with Steve Hodgson saying “It’s been a great evening, they’re all very worthy winners, I’m pleased for the people that won and I thoroughly look forward to hopefully assisting them moving forward.”

Joanna Ford of Cripps summed up the evening saying “It’s been inspirational to see young people who have such amazing ideas, really innovative and so passionate about what they are doing and fabulous to see such talent that we have around us locally.”

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The judging panel consisted of:

Mark Burgess – Director of NatWest

Simon Maddox – Partner – Owadally & KingBen Towers – CEO – Towers Design/Social MarleySalim Somjee – Partner – Cripps Law

James Booker – Editor – Croydon Advertiser

Matt Turner – CEO – Creative Pod & Director Young Start-up Talent

Lorraine Nugent – Director – Media Word Waves / Managing Director-Young Start-up Talent

This year’s Croydon sponsors were:


Owadally and King

Fairfield Halls

Gatwick Airport

Media Word Waves

Avensys Ltd

Croydon Advertiser

Minuteman Press Printers

Croydon Chamber of Commerce

Creative Pod


Young Enterprise

3D Change

Platinum Business Magazine

Coast 2 Capital

Matthews Yard

Hands On IT Services

Jurys Inn Croydon

Frost Group

Social Marley

Structured Communications

Whiston Solutions

Sussex Innovation Croydon

CrippsMorton Michel