It takes an extraordinary person to become an entrepreneur and some of the newest and most promising start-up businesses from across the Sheffield City were given a chance to celebrate and showcase their achievements at a special awards ceremony.

Organised by the Sheffield City Region’s Launchpad programme, almost every entrepreneur featured in the 2019 Launchpad Awards has been trading for less than three years, and in many cases, those featured are taking their very first steps in self-employment.

LensGo Visual Media was crowned the 2019 Launchpad Champion, after being chosen by fellow entrepreneurs during a live vote. It proved to be a night to remember for Stuart Turner, who saw the business he founded in May 2018 also lift the title of ‘Growth Business of Year’ as well as being named as a finalist in two other categories.

In a remarkable first year of trading, LensGo Visual Media has secured more than 50 new clients including Gulliver’s Theme Parks, Sheffield Wednesday FC and Rotherham United as well as a range of businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

The Launchpad Awards proved to be a memorable night for entrepreneurs throughout the region, with three Barnsley Businesses securing top awards as well as a unique awards double for Sheffied-based William Chew, founder of chilli paste company Mak Tok. Fresh from his recent appearance on the hit BBC TV show Dragons Den, Will walked away with the Inspiring Achiever and Young Entrepreneur trophies.

Rotherham’s growing start-up community saw online furniture retailer and interior design specialist No18 Interiors winning the Start Up Business of the Year title on an evening which celebrated the do-ers and achievers from across the Region.

The awards ceremony also proved to be a good night for Barnsley-based entrepreneurs, with specialist book subscription company My Chronicle Book Box winning the Rising Star Business and Jennifer Ryder who is launching her brand new business the Cawthorne Cat Hotel in the near future winning the Aspiring Entrepreneur category.  Last year’s Young Entrepreneur winner Abbie Allert followed up her previous success by winning the Made In Sheffield City Region category with her bespoke children’s clothing company, Mamma Made It.

Now in its second year, the Launchpad Awards saw nearly 100 new and aspiring entrepreneurs take part in the competition, with finalists in each category being recognised on the evening. In total, four Barnsley businesses, seven entrepreneurs from both Doncaster and Rotherham and twelve sensational Sheffield start ups received accolades.

Stuart Turner, founder LensGo Visual Media and 2019 Launchpad Champion said:

“It feels like we’ve achieved a huge amount in such a short space of time and for LensGo to be chosen as the Launchpad Champion is an amazing feeling. Our first year was very much about developing a business model that works, we’ve proved this and now we’re firmly setting our sights on further growth. We’ve built up some great client relationships and many of them recommend our services to others.

“Launchpad has helped my business in so many different ways. There’s a world of difference between working for someone else and running your own business. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the support I have received in laying the foundations to the business has been invaluable and I feel incredibly honoured that LensGo was chosen by other entrepreneurs as being this year’s Launchpad Champion and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next twelve months will bring!”

Anna Smith, programme manager, Launchpad said:

“We created the Launchpad Awards in 2018 as a way of showcasing and celebrating the important contribution start-up businesses play in shaping the local economy and this year’s event saw nearly 100 new business owners take part. There was an incredible array of businesses on display, from innovative retailers and manufacturers to individuals which have successfully identified new markets for their products and services.

“The Sheffield City Region is filled with some truly amazing entrepreneurs and the Launchpad programme was developed to help equip them with the vital skills and knowhow to build successful companies.

“Securing the title of Growth business of the year, as well as being named as a finalist in the Start Up of the Year and Inspiring Achiever categories was certainly no mean feat and the success achieved by Stuart and his team at LensGo during his first year in business made him a very worthy champion”.

Since the Launchpad programme began in 2016, it has helped more than 5,400 aspiring entrepreneurs to take the first steps towards self-employment by providing access to a range of business support including workshops and one-to-one business support.