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The Apprentice winner Harpreet Kaur joins Business Boost judging panel

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

12 July 2022

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Simply Business has named the business experts who will be judging this year's Business Boost competition, including the winner of The Apprentice and a former Dragons’ Den star.

Now in its third year, Business Boost offers small business owners and entrepreneurs the chance to win £25,000 to start or grow their business.

Among the industry experts tasked with selecting the winner is Lord Sugar’s latest business partner, Harpreet Kaur and former Dragon Piers Linney.

Meet the Business Boost judges

Piers Linney, CEO of Moblox and former star of Dragons' Den

Piers Linney is the CEO of Moblox and former star of Dragons' Den. He’s been a judge every year since the competition launched in 2020 and will be providing his expertise once again as we look to crown a winner.

Piers is a qualified lawyer, entrepreneur, and investor – recognised as one of the top 100 most influential Black Britons, and as a leading ethnic minority executive by The Financial Times. Piers has founded several companies, sat on the Cabinet Office SME Panel, and is a Non-Executive Director of the British Business Bank.

Harpreet Kaur, The Apprentice winner

Harpreet Kaur won BBC’s The Apprentice earlier this year, and she’s bringing her experience as a small business owner to the judging panel for Business Boost 2022.

No stranger to entering business awards, Harpreet won the £250,000 investment from Lord Alan Sugar to build her dessert parlour business, Oh So Yum. With Lord Sugar as her business partner, she’s now expanded her business from a store in West Yorkshire to offering a UK-wide delivery service.

Mo Kanjilal and Allegra Chapman, co founders of Watch This Sp_ce and winners of Business Boost 2021

Watch This Sp_ce have won multiple awards for helping organisations figure out where to start with diversity and inclusion.

Through identifying opportunities and creating a roadmap to make changes, they support businesses to harness the benefits of inclusion, from innovation and productivity to results and profits. They also offer training, strategic direction, and practical support to move businesses forward on their journey.

Allegra told us: “Winning the Simply Business Business Boost competition was an incredible moment for us. To have a panel of experts that we greatly admire and respect all think that our business deserved that support meant the world to us. It still hasn’t really sunk in.”

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

Tony Robinson OBE is an author, micro-business champion, and multiple business owner. We’re delighted that he’ll be joining our judging panel for a third time.

Tony’s the founder of (and campaigns for) #PayIn30Days and is the co-founder of #MicroBizMatters Day. He’s also founder of the SFEDI Group, Chair of Yorkshire in Business Limited, and Patron of the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank.

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

In Tony’s words: "It's both exciting and inspiring choosing a great new business to receive the whopping £25,000. It's a game-changer for the winner. We look for a great story, enterprising, ambitious aims, innovation a-plenty, and we need to know how the Business Boost grant will make a difference. You'll see from the amazing previous winners that a social purpose can be really important too.

“I count myself very lucky to be a judge for the third time. I've spent over 20 years as a national champion for micro-business owners and I've loved every minute of recognising and rewarding this new entrepreneurial talent.”

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Merlie Calvert, CEO and founder of Farillio

Merlie Calvert is the CEO and founder of Farillio, an award-winning tech startup in the business and legal services sector. As a long-term partner of Simply Business, Farillio also provides free legal documents and templates to support small businesses.

Farillio’s mission is to ensure that no small business owner struggles because they can’t access the information, materials, or expert help they need. Merlie is unapologetically rebellious about championing small business rights and was recognised by the Financial Times in 2019 for being among the top four per cent of global legal tech innovators.

On being a Business Boost awards judge again this year, Merlie said: “It’s so exciting (and a bit stressful!). Choosing one winner from the thousands of small businesses applying for this award is no mean feat.

“Last year’s winners, the fantastic Watch This Sp_ce team, have left big footprints to fill. It’s been a real joy working and partnering with them since they won.

“Farillio’s loved showcasing other Business Boost finalists too – such a diverse, impactful, and resourceful group. #SmallIsMighty and these applicants embody everything worth celebrating as the best of British small business.

“I’m hugely proud to be joining with other brilliant small business champions in supporting this initiative – thank you for boosting our community again this year, Simply Business!”

Alan Thomas – UK CEO, Simply Business

Alan Thomas has been the UK CEO of Simply Business since December 2019 and will complete the judging panel.

Alan oversees the growth and culture of Simply Business, with an emphasis on enabling big dreams – both for our employees and the customers we serve. Before becoming UK CEO, Alan was our Chief Commercial Officer, managing relationships with our insurers and creating the best outcomes for our customers.

Entries to the Business Boost grant are open until 17 August. A shortlist will be unveiled on 14 September, with the eventual winner expected to be announced on 14 October. Find out more about Business Boost and enter today.

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