Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A YOUNG company which aims to offer cost savings and peace of mind by linking oil tank monitoring equipment and an online price comparison facility has been named as winner in the East Anglian Daily Times round of the national Local Business Accelerators competition.
Local Business Accelerators (LBA) is an initiative by the Newspaper Society, the industry body for Britain’s regional and local media, which aims to highlight the valuable role that press advertising can play in helping businesses to realise their growth ambitions.
As the EADT’s winner, check-my-tank.com – based at Earls Colne, near Colchester – will receive a prize including free advertising within the title and mentoring support, to be delivered through the Eastern Enterprise Hub’s 5th Floor Club programme.
Together with winners from around 500 other local and regional newspapers around the county, the business will also be eligible to go forward to the national round of LBA, where the prize will include mentoring from entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden and £10,000 in cash.
Alan Smith began developing check-my-tank.com in April 2011 and is now ready to start attracting customers, so the timing of his LBA success could hardly be better.
The service is based on sensing technology which monitors the level of heating oil remaining in a storage tank. However, the system also provides text alerts identifying how long the remaining supply will last, based on previous consumption levels, and enables the customer to order a top-up delivery online from a range of suppliers signed up to the website.
Benefits including avoiding the higher prices charged for “emergency” short-notice deliveries, being able to choose the cheapest quote available on the webite and “smart metering” which highlights the current level of consumption and tends to encourage greater efficiency in oil use.
The system also enables relatives of vulnerable people who rely on oil heating to monitor their tanks remotely and make sure that they do not run out of oil.
And the sensing technology can also be applied to tanks used for storing other liquids, which Mr Smith believes has many potential applications in industry and agriculture.
The LBA winner within the EADT’s sister title, the Ipswich Star is Dayle Bayliss from Bentley, near Ipswich, who been operating independently as Dalye Bayliss Construction Consultants since October 2011.
The practice provides services including project and construction design and project management, with a particular interest in heritage buildings which has seen Dayle work with clients including the National Trust.
Runners-up in the contest, who will also be invited to take part in the 5th Floor Club mentoring programme, were Alec Williamson, founder of lager brewer Calvors, based at Coddeenham Green, near Needham Market, and Kelly Tennick from Hadleigh who runs EquiListics Equine Sports Massage, who also recently qualified by provide massage for human customers too.
Harry Berry, chairman of the Eastern Enterprise Hub, who judged the competition together with EADT business editor Duncan Brodie, said: “I was hugely impressed by the quality of all the short-listed businesses.
“It is really important for these early stage businesses, where they are creative and passionate about their idea, that we now support them. At this stage of business growth, it is critical that these people are able to call on the support and advice of successful business leaders from within the community.
“The key to success is to nurture these great ideas and help them develop a strong business plan that will stabilise the business and set it on a clear path for growth.
“The Eastern Enterprise Hub is a place where entrepreneurs and new businesses gain access to a network of highly experienced business leaders and provides crucial support and mentoring in these early stages.
“It is so important that Archant Suffolk are behind a programme like this to support early stage entrepreneurs and we are delighted to be working with them as a partner.”
Deborah Meaden, national ambassador for the LBA campaign, said: “I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Local Business Accelerators who should all feel extremely proud to have got this far in the competition.
“The first LBA created hundreds of business success stories across the UK and I am confident that we will see hundreds more again this year, as the winners receive the campaign prize of free local newspaper advertising and mentoring.
“We need to do everything we can to support small business owners and entrepreneurs and LBA is helping to do just that.”
LBA is also supported by the joint Government-private sector Business in You campaign and has been welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
“Last year’s Local Business Accelerators campaign was a phenomenal success and showed what a huge range of strong, growing businesses there are across the country,” Mr Cameron said.
“ It is a huge credit to the papers taking part that they are offering real support to their local businesses. They play a vital role in local communities and are uniquely placed to boost their local economy in this way.
“Last year’s national winner Ilkley Brewery has gone from strength to strength, growing its sales by 140% and I hope this year’s winners will go on to enjoy similar success. I would like to congratulate all the winners and wish them all the best for the national final.”
In addition to the main prize of a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a further free ad campaign in their local paper, this year’s overall LBA winner will receive £10,000 cash sum from the Business Growth Fund, one year’s free membership of the CBI, free business advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales valued at £2,000, an iPad from Freeagent and a year’s free business broadband access and the design and management of a website from BT.
Stephen Welton, chief executive of the Business Growth Fund, said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to these excellent businesses which have been shortlisted as regional winners of the Local Business Accelerators competition.
“These businesses are champions for their local communities. Economic conditions remain challenging in all regions but these companies show that there are pockets of growth across the country and that good businesses are prospering.”
He added: “There is no doubt that these regional winners will benefit from the free advertising and mentoring offered to them by LBA, and I look forward to presenting our contribution of £10,000 to the national winner later this year.”
CBI director-general John Cridland added: “Regional newspapers provide a unique platform for young business talent looking for new ways to grow and develop.
“The CBI wishes the new Local Business Accelerators initiative every success and hopes that this unique partnership devised by the local newspaper industry goes from strength to strength.”
n To find out more about Local Business Accelerators, visit www.accelerateme.co.uk .