As a former employee, I was delighted to hear that Sage had agreed to sponsor the annual #MicroBizMattersDay event on 13th January 2017 for the 3rd year in a row.
As the UK’s leading business software provider, Sage has always been a huge champion of small and micro businesses (0-9 employees), providing them with the tools, advice and support they need to start and grow.
With two successful #MicroBizMattersDay live stream broadcasts under their belt, Sage added an extra dimension of fun and excitement this year by running a ‘Shark Tank’ type competition (called ‘Sage Tank‘) whereby one lucky startup would receive the following prizes on the day:
1. A free twelve-month subscription to Sage One Start
2. Finance mentoring for their business for one day per month for twelve months from a top Sage representative
3. A £500 Apple voucher, accepted at any UK Apple premium reseller
4. One free ticket to the #MicroBizMattersDay live event at Pimlico Plumbers HQ in London on 13 January 2017
5. Mentoring support and guidance on setting up their business for at least one day per month for twelve months from me (Paul Lancaster, Founder of Plan Digital UK)
After collecting video pitch entries online and in person at The Business Startup Show in November 2016, the panel of judges shortlisted three finalists who were then invited to pitch again at the #MicroBizMattersDay press launch event at the London office of fellow sponsor ScanSnap / Fujitsu.
Unfortunately, one of the finalists couldn’t attend on the day but you can watch the short pitches by Cristina Eirea and Alison Gray, by skipping to 12 mins 5 secs in the Facebook Live video below:
Although all three finalists had great sounding ideas, Alison Gray’s stood out as the one that was most well-developed and ready to bring to market, and the one that personally resonated the most with me because of my background in the digital, creative and cultural sectors.
— Sage UK (@sageuk) January 12, 2017
After spending approximately 30 minutes chatting to Alison immediately after her win, it was clear to me that the right person had won the competition and that this extra vote of confidence was just what she needed to take her idea to the next level and put her plans into place. We also talked in practical terms about how we would do our mentoring sessions via Skype every two weeks initially plus text, email, phone call and Tweet where necessary.
As a mentor, you often find that the mentee already knows exactly what they need to do and so your role is simply to be there to offer support and encouragement which is something I enjoy doing, especially when it’s with someone with a warm and engaging personality and a depth of knowledge and passion for her subject like Alison.
Not only do I really like Alison as a person but I genuinely think she has a great idea for a business which I have some relevant experience and knowledge of and so I’m very much looking forward to our mentoring sessions over the next 12 months which I will be blogging about on here each month.
In the meantime, you can follow Alison’s progress in the coming months by Following her on Twitter @alisongraysmallbiz which she only just started using but is already finding it a great way to engage with fellow micro business owners and partners for her business.
You can also watch a great short interview with Alison during the live #MicroBizMattersDay Google Hangout by clicking on the image below: