SME Mentorship Judging Day: what happened and who won

Where do I want my business to be in the future? It’s a question that many business leaders ask themselves but don’t have time to consider because they are just too busy managing the day-to-day tasks. This is where a mentor can help. The Ready Business Mentor Scheme will give five business leaders an amazing opportunity to work closely with co-founder and director Sophie Cornish to find the answer. Read on to find out all about this exciting joint initiative between Vodafone and The Times.

The Ready Business mentees have been chosen following a day of exciting pitches and deliberation at the Times offices on Friday. The ten shortlisted candidates arrived, each with props to represent their business – from plates of red quinoa to small robots, and proceeded to pitch to our four judges: founder Sophie Cornish, Times Business editor Richard Fletcher, business psychologist Tony Crabbe and Vodafone’s head of small and SME business, Jonathan Kini.

Each pitch illustrated what the businesses were trying to achieve and how they believed our mentor Sophie Cornish could help them to get there. The judges then had ten minutes to question the entrepreneurs about their businesses. Richard Fletcher’s favourite question was, “What has been your biggest mistake so far?” which garnered plenty of interesting answers from “not having created a mock-up website,” and “underestimating the costs of everything,” to “not being ambitious enough, early enough.”

At the end of the day, our judges went into a deliberation room and thrashed out who exactly they thought would benefit the most from a month working with our mentor, before announcing the results at the drinks reception.

The businesses chosen to be mentored by Sophie Cornish were Pooch & Mutt, Mini Masterchefs, SoSensational, Life’s Kitchen and Do Something Different.

“Every single one had the same infectious passion and real love for their own business,” said Cornish. “I think mentoring is all about bringing out that passion and commitment and turning it into something. We got a really great mix of different kinds of businesses, all at different stages and with different missions – all worthwhile and as important as each other.”

The winning companies were absolutely delighted. “I’m just overwhelmed and so thrilled that finally top drawer business people believe in us,” said SoSensational founder Cyndy Lessing.

“We’re really excited and thrilled,” said Nick Leavens, managing director of Life’s Kitchen. “I think Sophie is going to challenge us and disrupt the status quo and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the party. She’s coming into an established business but I hope she gives it a really good shake.”

The mentoring will start in November, once it has been decided who will go into the process first. Each business will be keeping a monthly blog about their progress so make sure you keep an eye out for updates. To find out more visit Ready Business Britain.