Thursday, December 15, 2011

News: Vitalife proves to be everybody’s cup of tea


Vitalife Ltd impressed a panel of local "dragons" at a recent event in Rotherham and claimed the top prize of £1,500, provided by sponsors, UK Steel Enterprise.

Rotherham Enterprise Board hosted their biggest Dragons' Den-type event, inspired by the BBC show of the same name, at the Park Inn Rotherham in Manvers last week.

Young entrepreneur, Gavin Edley, was among four new start businesses pitching their expansion plans to a panel of local business experts and mentors. A secret audience vote confirmed the judges’ decision that Gavin had delivered the best pitch on the night.

The 24-year-old set up Vitalife in 2010 with the help of the Rotherham Enterprise Project and has successfully introduced the healthy Japanese green tea called matcha to the UK.

The former pupil at Brinsworth Comprehensive School entered the den as he is looking to expand his business by diversifying the range of teas, introducing new products, and working with more retailers.

Gavin said: "This was the first time that I'd done anything like this and pitched my business in front of a panel and an audience. I'm really pleased to have won.

"I'm looking to launch new teas and a range of healthy snacks and drinks and I'm looking at the prospect of opening café premises to showcase them. I'm also looking to build the Vitalife brand and secure more deals with more retailers.

"I'm excited by the expansion plans and the prize money will certainly help me carry them out."

This was the third successful event funded by UK Steel Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and recognised Rotherham companies with the potential for business growth.

Guest speaker at the event was Kirsty Henshaw, who told the tale of when she entered the BBC's Dragons; Den and came out with significant financial backing for her business. She also took the role of a dragon and provided the entrants with advice to calm their nerves and boost their confidence before they faced the panel.

The other finalists entering the den were commended for their enormous enthusiasm and excellent pitches. They were: social enterprise, Drive It Home Road Safety; The Button Tin, where vintage craft workshops are held; and Simply Inventive Ltd, the inventors of a unique plumbing product.

For these entrepreneurs it is hoped that relationships will develop between the budding business brains and members of the board's mentor bank, where local people who have run their own businesses or have specialist expertise, will pass on their knowledge and give them a better chance of success.

Keith Williams, regional manager of Tata Steel subsidiary, UK Steel Enterprise said: "We are delighted to support these events. It was extremely successful and the business pitches were some of the best we've seen.

"I'm sure it was a great experience for the enterprises and has helped them identify new potential opportunities and given them the confidence to progress their ideas further.

"There is a wide range of business support available in Rotherham. The Enterprise Board events are designed to help early stage and smaller businesses, whilst loan and equity finance of up to £750,000 is available from the UK Steel Enterprise investment fund for more established businesses in Rotherham and throughout South Yorkshire."

The Enterprise Board is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is led by successful business men and women from a wide range of different backgrounds and business sectors. They are using their experience to change the way business support is provided and make it more helpful to Rotherham entrepreneurs.

Vitalife website
Rotherham Enterprise Board website

Images: Rotherham Enterprise Board


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