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Business experts announced as mentors for Harborough’s top 10 pioneering firms

A team of 10 successful local business leaders have pledged their support to help the growth and development of 10 ambitious Harborough-based small businesses. As part of the Pioneer 10 Harborough programme, running from Harborough Innovation Centre, each mentor will be matched to one of the top 10 pioneers selected as part of the district-wide support & awards scheme.

The match will be  based on  the relevance of their expertise to the needs and target market of each business. Each finalist will also receive invaluable coaching and growth planning support from Harborough Innovation Centre business coaches Rachel Panther and Geoff Freestone.

Clive Smith, former MD of Brian Smith Catering, sold to Avenance in 1999, and now chairman of Hothorpe Hall Ltd and Primary Site Ltd, has signed up to be a mentor.

He said: “The Pioneer 10 Business Awards and mentoring programme offer a fantastic opportunity to those businesses who are serious about expanding but would appreciate some help, either to build their growth plan or receive pragmatic support from someone whose been there and done it. The amount of support on offer is phenomenal. This is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Pioneer 10 Harborough was launched last summer and after helping more than 400 local businesses already through a programme of workshops and one to one business coaching,  the Business Awards 2017 phase of the programme will now see 10 stand-out businesses being recognised and receiving more intensive growth support.

The mentors include Mark Faulconbridge director at King Vehicle Engineering, Nicola Denny, managing director of May Marketing and Chris Gorrod, managing director of Brevit Reiker. They have wide ranging backgrounds and market sector experience from retail, manufacturing, engineering, catering and recruitment to financial and marketing services. Once matched to each of the ten finalists, mentors  will offer exclusive one-to-one support or practical help to exploit new opportunities for the business.

Funded by Harborough District Council and driven by the team at Harborough Innovation Centre, Pioneer 10 Harborough has involved business workshops, a website packed with free downloadable tools as well as practical advice and one to one business coaching.

Entries for the programme can be submitted until the end of February. The winners will not only be acknowledged for their pioneering capability, but will also receive a customised programme of specialist business growth support as well as expert mentoring to build unique capabilities, gain a competitive edge, commercialise innovation and grow. In addition, the top two pioneers will receive free shared office space at the Harborough Innovation Centre for 12 months.

Recruitment industry expert Eloise Shelton, who is director of Vanilla Recruitment, has also joined the expert mentoring team.

She said: “The scheme is a fantastic opportunity for all those ambitious businesses out there to get involved in an exciting project to catapult them to further success.

“The mentoring team is looking forward to contributing their wide range of skills to help achieve success.”

The team of business leaders are:

  • Chris Garrod, managing director of Brevit Reiker
  • Eloise Shelton, recruitment industry expert and managing director of Vanilla Recruitment,
  • Rachel Panther, business support director of Oxford Innovation
  • Rona Purdham, director of Rona Purdham Financial Management LTD
  • Nicole Denny, managing director of May Marketing
  • Clive Smith, chairman of Hothorpe Hall Ltd, Primary Site Ltd, Leicester Charity Link, The Bower House and school governor of Nether Hall.
  • Tim Sparrow, managing director at BBB Investments Ltd
  • Geoff Freestone, business coach at Oxford Innovation, Harborough Innovation Centre.
  • Steve Chapman, managing director of Swordfish Marketing.
  • Caroline Kemsley Pein, commercial lawyer.
  • Mark Faulconbridge, general manager / operational director of HW Martin (recently acquired King Vehicle Engineering)

Council Leader Blake Pain said: “This is an exciting time for business in the Harborough District. “The team of support we have lined up will provide a comprehensive advice package to the winning businesses, which we hope will go on to further success and boost the local economy.”

Rachel Panther, Business Support Director at Harborough Innovation Centre, said: “We are extremely grateful to the business leaders who have signed up to work with us on this project. We are looking forward to receiving some great entries and we are sure there are exciting times ahead.”


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