Dacorum's Den winners 2022

Dacorum's Den 2022 winners with Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP

Eight budding entrepreneurs were awarded up to £2,500 for their businesses after they pitched their ideas to a team of Dacorum’s Den judges on Friday July 15 2022.

The panel of four judges, led by Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP, divided a total of £10,000 grant fund to a range of business ideas that included dog grooming, solar panel advisers, cake makers and a children’s theatre company.

As well as the financial support, the winners also receive one year’s free membership to the Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors and six months' free business support coaching provided by ActionCOACH.

Sir Mike Penning MP praised Dacorum’s Den as “a great initiative to help local businesses grow". He added: "There were some excellent pitch presentations from a wide mix of different business sectors and we look forward to seeing these businesses grow with the injection of finance, plus the coaching and membership package."

The panel of judges included Martin Fieldman, Managing Director at Abodebed, Andrew Hepworth, Managing Director at Sopra Steria and David Spratt, Head of Sales Business Systems at Epson (UK) Ltd. Find out more about this year's sponsors and support package providers.

Find out more about our winners

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  • Shaggy and Chic

    Shaggy and Chic logo

    Funds awarded: £2,500

    Lucy Baker, owner of Shaggy and Chic dog groomers and healthcare, was awarded £2,500 to purchase a new hydro-bath with a much quicker heating system, delivering energy efficiency, reduced water consumption and drastically reducing bathing times. The bath is also great for helping dogs with skin conditions and even arthritis as the water pressure from the hose gets right down to the skin and gives a massage effect. The judges were so impressed with Lucy’s passion for dogs and her business that they awarded the amount required to fully fund the equipment she requires.

    Lucy said: “I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have taken part in Dacorum’s Den.  Everybody has been so kind and I’ve very much enjoyed the challenge.”

    More information: www.shaggyandchic.co.uk

  • Apex 360
    Apex 360 logo

    Funds awarded: £2,000

    Stewart Hunt - owner of Apex in the Community, Hertfordshire CIC - was awarded £2,000 to fully fund a shipping container classroom facility and community garden. The judges were impressed by Stewart’s enthusiasm and commitment to providing community sports clubs and activities for schools via the community interest company he has set up.

    The funding will be used to create and deliver a number of climate change awareness workshops from the Active Dacorum Hub. Through the workshops, they will enable, encourage, educate and engage Dacorum residents to start taking steps to changing their behaviour and approach to climate change. Children from local schools will learn more about climate change and why there is an emergency. The children will get to take part in fun activities such as bug hunts as well as learning about where their food comes from and how we can all make a difference to climate change. The children will be encouraged to suggest what differences they and their families could make to reduce emissions and improve the climate change emergency.

    Stewart said: “We were so delighted to be shortlisted and awarded funding with so many other great organisations applying for the funding. I am not often lost for words but when we were awarded £2,000 and not the £975 we had applied for, I was gobsmacked. Just amazing. Then to be told we would get a year's free membership of the Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors group and the offer of support from James Gentle at Action Coach was even more fantastic news. Thank you so much for this opportunity.” 

    More information: http://theactivedacorumhub.co.uk

  • Magical Story Elves
    Magical Story Elves logo

    Funds awarded: £1,500

    Babbette Smith - owner of Magical Story Elves - was awarded £1,500 to produce a show reel to promote her children’s entertainment company. Babette and her team sang and performed their pitch presentation in full costume and accompanied by a giant animated dinosaur! The judges liked the different presentation style and were impressed with the educational element of the business.

    They have written two educational theatre shows for children and would like to tour them around theatres - the professional show reel will help them sell into theatres and help promote ticket sales. The remaining money will go towards buying educational tools, such as props for their school workshops and a custom-made eight foot tall 3D dinosaur skeleton puzzle. The children would put the pieces together to build the full skeleton just like a real palaeontologist would when they find dinosaur bones. If there is any remaining money, they would like to purchase replica dinosaur fossils and science equipment, too.

    Babette said: “We are so excited and thrilled to have been awarded £1,500 through Dacorum’s Den. This will really help us achieve the next steps in our business plan. We have already made lots of new business connections from attending the awards day and it’s great to have the added support from the Dacorum’s Den team. I would highly recommend this scheme to any small business looking to expand or with any new projects on the horizon. Thank you.”

    More information: https://magicalstoryelves.co.uk/

  • ZV Textiles
    ZV Textiles cheque presentation with Mayor of Dacorum Cllr John Birnie and Jessica Thatcher

    Funds awarded: £1,500

    Jessica Thatcher - owner of ZV Textiles - received £1,500 towards advertising and marketing for her business-to-business textile manufacturing company in the equestrian and country clothing sector. The judges were impressed by Jessica’s concise presentation and the professional production set-up of her business.

    ZV Textiles is a new garment manufacturer, helping other small businesses sample their fashion and textile products and manufacture them here in the UK. Jessica will use the grant money on trade body memberships to help advertise and market the business to prospective customers.

    Jessica said: “I am delighted to have been a lucky recipient of the Dacorum’s Den grant for my new business, ZV Textiles.  The money will be a huge help in getting the business off the ground and will make a pivotal difference in helping promote our garment manufacturing services to prospective customers. The Dacorum’s Den team were really kind and helpful and I would recommend the scheme to others without hesitation.”

    More information: www.zvtextiles.com

  • Sunsible
    Sunsible logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    Husband and wife team, Jan and Sarah Sisson, owners of Sunsible LLP, were awarded £1,000 to fund a new drone for their solar advice and maintenance business. The new drone will allow them to capture roof-level images for inspecting solar and other renewables systems, helping homeowners keep energy bills at bay and reduce their carbon footprint.

    Sunsible provides inspections and advice for solar PV systems - both making sure that existing systems are safe and performing well, as well as helping people to see whether solar PV might be right for them, producing feasibility studies for new systems. For both of these activities they require a drone suitable for use in an urban environment to inspect and measure homeowners' properties.

    Jan said: “We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we had won a grant, and it was a great experience talking to all the other small business owners at the awards ceremony - we came away with a really positive feeling about what Dacorum Borough Council is doing with this scheme, and of course it will be a great help to move our business forward."

    More information: www.sunsible.co.uk 

  • Nevie-Pie Cakes
    Nevie-Pie Logo

    Funds awarded: £500

    Natasha Collins - owner of Nevie-Pie Cakes - received £500 to fund an edible printer so she can create her own edible printed images on specialised icing sheets to decorate and personalise cakes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the judges were impressed with the quality of the products and believe that the free support from Action Coach will help Natasha with her future business planning to further grow her business.

    Nevie-Pie Cakes is a luxury cake company specialising in painted cakes. It creates edible works of art for special occasions and events. As well as the printer, Natasha will also be getting some training in royal icing techniques as this will help her offer more services to clients and grow her client list.

    Natasha said: “I really enjoyed creating my presentation, it gave me an opportunity to consider how much my business has changed over the years and to get excited about where I would like it to go in the future. Presenting to the Dacorum’s Den judges helped pull all that into focus for me. Meeting the other winners was also a great chance to learn about other local businesses and be inspired by them.”

    More information: www.neviepiecakes.com

  • Chocwork
    Chocwork logo

    Funds awarded: £500

    Anne Barnes and Caroline Scott, joint partners in Chocwork, a new start-up business offering chocolate-making workshops for adults and children, received £500 for another melting pot. This additional equipment will mean they can provide for bigger groups, and allow them a separate melting pot to cater for coeliacs. 

    Chocwork is an experience where participants make their own chocolates, learn how coca turns from a bean to a bar and taste a variety of chocolate. Suitable for adults and children, groups and companies, each workshop can be personalised to participants' interests and needs. The company aims to reach all members of the community and are mindful regarding special diets and accessibility. It can help with celebrations of all occasions and events.

    Anne said: “From the moment we heard about Dacorum’s Den the Economic Development Team at Dacorum Borough Council were so helpful, making the process of application less daunting. The panel were very welcoming on presentation day, putting us at ease straightaway. We’d encourage other small business to apply next time, especially as afterwards there is follow-up business support.

    "The grant has enabled us to grow our business by purchasing an additional chocolate melting pot, meaning we can offer workshops to larger groups such as guides and scouts, thus enhancing community activity. All our workshops have an educational element so we can now reach out to schools as well.  The grant will make a real difference to our return on investment, which will occur much sooner than it would otherwise have done.”

    More information: www.chocwork.co.uk

  • Kiki and Green
    Kiki and Green logo

    Funds awarded: £500

    Husband and wife team Rupal and Kamal Panchal - owners of Kiki and Green - received £500 for marketing investment in their environmentally friendly sanitary products business. The judges liked the environmental and ethical aspects of the business and their plans to recruit a marketing executive as their business grows.

    Kamal said: "It was a privilege to pitch our business to such an accomplished group of people. Before we began they put us at ease immediately, which meant we could be ourselves and do our best. It was brilliant to get their feedback - as they can see our business from a different angle. It was an amazing experience."

    More information: https://kikiandgreen.com

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