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Our Business Boost judging panel

Meet the judges selecting our £10,000 winner

Anneka Hicks

Anneka Hicks - Founder of ExcludedUK

Anneka Hicks is the founder of ExcludedUK, a grassroots non-profit organisation committed to providing personal, business and career support to those facing hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Anneka is an experienced marketer, strategist, and technologist with a deep routed passion for helping small businesses, independents, and entrepreneurs realise their growth potential and succeed in meeting and exceeding their goals.

Anneka spearheaded the Account Based Marketing movement ‘FlipMyFunnel’ in early 2016, as one of the first to launch the concept in the UK, and later became a #WomenInTech finalist. Later that year, whilst single-handedly bringing up her son, she launched a small marketing agency called Cloud10 Marketing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has enabled Anneka to get back to her routes. Having identified a considerable amount of UK taxpayers falling outside of the government’s Covid-19 financial support schemes eligibility criteria and seeing the impact of that on their businesses, as well as their mental health, Anneka set out to put together a support platform that would enable them to find a way through the crisis. In May 2020, ExcludedUK was founded.

Piers Linney

Piers Linney - Businessman and investor, Ex-Dragons Den investor

Piers Linney is an entrepreneur and investor with a professional background in the City. He has broad experience of the challenges that face small and growth businesses as a founder, adviser, director and investor.

Piers is a well-known champion of small and medium-sized businesses, and is best known as a former Dragon on BBC Dragons’ Den and as a Channel 4 Secret Millionaire, which was filmed inside a Young Offenders’ Institution. Piers qualified as a lawyer, and specialised in corporate finance and venture capital in the City before joining the investment banking team at Credit Suisse. He left the city to start a dotcom business and became the CEO of a corporate finance business raising funds for technology start-ups and SMEs before becoming a partner at a hedge fund specialising in providing structured debt and equity.

Piers has founded several technology and communication businesses and has won a range of entrepreneurship awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural EY sponsored Black British Business Awards. He sat on the Cabinet Office SME Panel and the Board of TechUK and is a Non-Executive Director of the government-owned British Business Bank, which aims to unlock capital for UK SMEs and which has facilitated over £50bn of financing, incfinancing schemes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Piers has been recognised as one of the top 100 most influential Black Britons and as a leading ethnic minority executive by The Financial Times. He is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion

Lee Wilcox

Lee Wilcox - CEO and Founder of Electric House

Lee Wilcox is the CEO and Co-founder of Electric House – one of the fastest growing social media and publishing groups in the UK.

Founded over a bottle of rum, Lee has expanded the business to a 60+ person agency. Lee is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, recognised as the ‘Creative Industries and Overall Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Electric House has focused on building niche communities, not audiences. Including On the Tools, the world’s largest construction community, as well as On A Budget – 1.5 million ‘Household warriors’ and counting. This UK centric approach enabled Electric House to become the most viewed UK Social Entity for 2019, Globally. Lee focuses on Business development and culture, putting the team at the front of every business decision has built a family at Electric House. It’s his mission to maintain this environment where everyone feels safe and valued, where their happiness and welfare is centre stage.

Tony Robinson

Tony Robinson OBE – Author and vocal champion of the self-employed

Tony Robinson OBE is a recognised micro-business champion and multiple business owner. Tony’s an active campaigner for #PayIn30Days and is the co-founder of #MicroBizMatters Day and its movement. He’s also founder of the SFEDI Group, Chair of Yorkshire in Business Limited and Patron of the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank.

He has been awarded an OBE for services to small firms, and two Lifetime Achievement Awards for Enterprise. He is currently the National Enterprise Network’s Enterprise Support Champion.

He is also a prolific author of fiction and non -fiction. His latest business book is the culmination of a two-year project with co-author Taryn Lee Johnston – the new 'Small is Beautiful ' entitled 'The Happipreneur - Why MicroBizMatters?’

Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas – UK CEO at Simply Business

As UK CEO, Alan oversees the growth and culture of our UK business – keeping us focussed on our long-term vision and strategic priorities. Central to this is a belief in our unique values, and an emphasis on enabling the big dreams of our diverse customers and people.

No two people – or customers – are the same, and Alan’s role is to make sure our culture, proposition, and values evolve to reflect this. And as an accredited B Corp, this applies to our communities, and the impact we can have on those around us too.

Before taking on the role of UK CEO, Alan was our Chief Commercial Officer. Using his wealth of experience as a Chartered Insurer, he managed the relationships with our insurer partners and suppliers – working to create the best outcomes for our customers.

Joining Simply Business in 2016, Alan brings with him over 20 years’ experience, having previously worked for Hiscox and RSA.

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Our Business Boost judging panel

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