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Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards : Regional winners: London and the South East

The Telegraph
The first set of regional winners in the Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards have been announced. Find out more about the winners from London and the South East

Best Enterprise – PleaseCycle

Management student Ry Morgan so impressed his former boss during an internship that he gave him seed money to “set up something entrepreneurial” on graduation.

Mr Morgan’s initial business blossomed: developing corporate software to make exercise more fun for employees and to encourage them to compete and set themselves challenges.

Clients include the likes of Bloomberg and Atkins; staff members walk, run, cycle and exercise to build up miles via mobile apps. Miles convert to points that can be exchanged as prizes, retail discounts or charity donations.

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Users set their own goals, whether to burn up the equivalent of five hamburgers a month or to beat their colleagues. “It’s very engaging and good for staff morale,” Mr Morgan says.

PleaseCycle, currently being rebranded as Yomp, has grown to eight employees and doubled its revenues since last year, and has secured more funding to expand.

Next month Mr Morgan is off to a two-week intensive school, Blackbox Connect in Silicon Valley, California, for selected entrepreneurs.

"The biggest challenge so far has been to hire the right talent," says Mr Morgan. "And with hindsight we would have got out there even quicker.

"You learn so much more by doing."

Best Start-up – KYMIRA

Sitting on top of a trolley laden with his performance-enhancing fabric, Tim Brownstone has a lot to feel proud of.

He has silenced the doubters to set up a sportswear business built on an innovative material, and has plans to expand.

"More experienced people asked me how I, a graduate in animal science who didn’t know the first thing about the garment business, could set up on my own, but I have."

The fabric that he developed during his degree harnesses “wasted” energy from the body along with ambient heat and light, which it then converts to infrared radiation. This increases circulation, helping oxygen levels rise in body tissue, thereby improving performance and recovery.

Recreational joggers and elite athletes wear his leggings and tops. “It won’t turn you into an Olympic athlete but it might help you push harder,” says Mr Brownstone, who has collaborated with researchers in California. "Nine clinical trials support our claims."

Winning the Best Start-up award has encouraged him to further his success. "It gives me such confidence," he says.

Best DIgItal – LendMeYourLearning

This motivational service to encourage children’s writing started off as a hobby for Jonathan Smith. He was a civil engineer in the Middle East when his teacher brother asked him to find a way to publish children’s writing online to liven up his resources.

But then pupils started critiquing others’ work and soon the service became a lively hub, inspiring reluctant writers and emerging young poets. Soon Mr Smith ditched the railways and bridges of Abu Dhabi to build the business.

Even in the past fortnight, more users have signed up than in any other month. Now 10,000 pupils and teachers are registered across 70 countries. A creative writer in a Leeds primary school might get feedback from a pupil in Japan.

"It’s amazing to witness a breakthrough with a child. It can be transformational," says Mr Smith, who sometimes accompanies his brother Henry into a classroom. The staff of 12 include eight experienced teachers, and 75pc of revenue comes from running literacy days in schools, backed up with an online service.

"I love the freedom and uncertainty. Working with children beats the mega-projects of the Middle East."

The Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards

Prizes range from £1,000 to £5,000 for Best Start-up and Best Enterprise – along with a new prize for 2014, Best Digital. These businesses will attend next month’s final with the other regional finalists, when Britain’s best companies will compete for prizes reaching £50,000 as well as one-to-one mentoring.

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