Two entrepreneurs, both of whom work closely with Birmingham City University's business support services, are celebrating after being announced as winners of the Rising Star Award at this year's National StartUp Awards.
Posted 20 June 2022
National startup award for a rising star
Simon Caulton, a member of our business support service STEAMhouse Incubator and a client of our Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) service, picked up the gong alongside fellow HLSM client and BCU alumnus Shrevan Marath,
The National StartUp Awards is a collaboration between the founders of The Great British Entrepreneur Awards - an established national programme receiving over 5,000 applications annually - and the Wales Start-Up Awards, the only regional awards currently celebrating new businesses in the UK.
Simon, owner and CEO of sustainable footwear brand Ones Trainers, was nominated – and subsequently won - in the Rising Star category, as did Shrevan for his company Work Simplr, a remote collaboration and co-working platform that is prepared for the future of work.
The award recognises fledgling startups and entrepreneurs that are already making a positive difference.
In this case, Simon has proven victorious for the good work Ones has conducted in a short space of time.
- Designing a lightweight, comfortable shoe that is stylish and endurant;
- Partnering with Blood Cancer UK, donating 10 percent of profits into research and trials into acute lymphoblastic leukaemia;
- Also joining forces with Ronald McDonald House, raising over £6,000 for the charity so far;
- Working with sustainable company Bloom Materials to ensure Ones Trainers are sustainable;
- Overcoming the challenges and setbacks of the Covid-19 to successfully launch earlier in 2022.
The idea of giving back is inspired by Simon’s difficult journey, which began when his daughter Mia was diagnosed with leukaemia aged just five.
While Mia would go on to recover, Simon used the pain and uncertainty from this unfortunate life event to turn it into something positive – a brand that gives back.
Inspiration from difficult circumstances
Since launching, Ones Trainers has received acclaim.
After just six weeks of trading, it was named as a shortlist in the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category at the Signature Awards, which celebrates achievements in the Birmingham region.
Now, Simon has gone one step further and is blown away by the award victory.
“This is Ones Trainers’ first award and it means the absolute world,” he beams.
“Getting Ones off the ground has been an incredible chapter full of excitement, challenges, tears and joy.
“For me, this win is a special acknowledgement that inspiration can come at any time in one’s life, under many different circumstances.”
Businessman and BCU graduate Munachiso Ogu-Jude was a runner-up in the Professional Services Startup category for his digital tax training platform, Mojitax, which launched in 2021.
Munachiso has thoroughly enjoyed his time with BCU.
“Prior to joining BCU, I had never travelled outside of my native Nigeria,” he explains.
“I was told that BCU had an outstanding law course. They were right. It gave me the perfect student experience, with a good mix of academics, career development and social life.
“I gained work experience and support for entrepreneurs, had an amazing social life and I got a real appreciation of international diversity.”
Invaluable, free business support worthy of any award
Simon and Munachiso are both clients of STEAMhouse Incubator, which provides members with immediate access to dedicated workstations, meeting rooms, mentoring, business development support and more.
Simon is incredibly grateful to all of the support that the STEAMhouse team has provided him.
“The Incubator is an amazing source of information and advice,” he says.
“They have provided links to various loan and investment opportunities, have set up meetings with great business advisors and helped me develop my brand’s vision.
“As a startup business, the facilities the Incubator has would be financially out of your reach anywhere else.”
Simon has fully utilised the business services BCU provide.
He and Shrevan are also members of HLSM, BCU’s award-winning recruitment and upskilling service that is part-funded by the European Social Fund.
Among other things, HLSM helps a business create a personalised skills development plan, and matches them with talented students and graduates that can make a positive difference to a business.