The standard of the entrepreneurs this year was very high. Take 30-year old technology whizz Tom Allason. The eCourier founder is back with another business, Shutl, which aims to revolutionise the ecommerce industry. Shutl will allow retailers to deliver products within 90 minutes of the order. National retailer Argos has already signed up and a number of other deals are already in the pipeline. "Shutl is a great business," says KashFlow founder Duane Jackson. "There are a few ventures cropping up in this space which shows it's a fast-growing niche."
Anytime Doctor is an interesting venture. This online business allows users to speak to qualified GPs and receive treatment by post for minor conditions. Founder Jannen Vamadeva launched Antime Doctor in 2008: it's only the second UK online doctor service to be authorised and regulated by the Care Quality Commission, the Governmental healthcare regulator.
Then there's Will Allingham, the cheeky chappy behind Allingham Quadcrate. He has invented a loader attachment that fits neatly onto quadbikes and other small vehicles. He is targeting the agricultural market, and he's not stopping with the UK. "I just got back from New Zealand," he said last night. "There's a lot of opportunities to take the brand overseas."
Allingham also has a few other uses for his invention: "You can stick a person in there," he laughs. "Put the naughty kid in the box for a bit."
BBOXX is a cool young company creating portable solar-powered chargers that can electrify a range of devices. This business has a social purpose: to bring cheap and readily-available electricity to rural areas. The BBOXX is already being manufactured in Rwanda and founders Laurent Van Houcke, Christopher Baker-Brian and Mansoor Mohammad Hamayan have established contacts as far afield as China.
Another energy entrepreneur, Nick Procter, has similarly altruistic intentions. Amber Energy Consultants aims to reduce corporations' energy usage and save them money. Enterprise Nation founder and Shell LiveWIRE judge Emma Jones congratulated Procter on his business nous, saying, "Your business plan was brilliant. I was really impressed with you."
Roots Design Workshop is an innovative young architecture practice. Based in a mobile van. Founders Michael Halliday and Chris Hall take their expertise to their clients and host 'design surgeries' to help them work out exactly what they want from new builds. "We're going to be turning our paper drawings into real buildings soon," says Halliday. "It's an exciting time for Roots."
When Charmaine Kemp graduated from university, she found it impossible to find work. She began researching untapped markets and founded Wheelie Good Mobility for reconditioning and recycling mobility scooters in 2009. The bubbly young entrepreneur has displayed real tenacity and vision in her business. "I'm met some great people through LiveWire," she said. "And I'm almost definitely going to be working with the winning business as we're in the same industry!"
Which brings me neatly to Jessica Grosvenor (pictured), founder of Freelance Training and Consultancy and winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Grosvenor founded her business in April this year and within six months has secured contracts worth £1.4 million.
The company offers a range of training, including courses which help 16-18 year olds gain access to education and jobs by offering government-funded NVQs and technical certificates, in addition to functional skills like Maths, English and ICT. The business also provides teacher development qualifications and end-of-life-care training to nurses of hospices, private care homes and support services.
Grosvenor was absolutely delighted to win the award - and the cash! "This experience has taught me that if you be yourself, be confident, believe in what you do and enjoy it and go with that feeling, then you can create a successful business," she said.
Established in 1982, Shell LiveWIRE is one of Britain's longest-running youth enterprise awards schemes. In addition to the £10,000 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Shell LiveWIRE runs Grand Ideas Awards, where up to five £1,000 awards are given every month to very early-stage businesses.