Dacorum's Den winners 2023 

Dacorum's Den winners 2023 with their cheques alongside Mayor Cllr William AllenTen budding entrepreneurs were awarded up to £2,000 to support their business' growth after they pitched ideas to a team of Dacorum’s Den judges on Friday 6 October 2023.

The panel of judges, led by Sir Mike Penning MP awarded a total of £13,500 to fund a range of business ideas that included coaching, an independent beer and cider shop, florist, corporate team building and cryotherapy service.

The event sponsors formed the panel of judges including Robert Wilson, Head of Property and Facilities at Sopra Steria, David Spratt, Head of Sales Business Systems at Epson (UK) Ltd, Sarah Rutt, Director at Beeches Group, and Martin Fieldman, Managing Director at Abodebed.

As well as the financial support, the winners will also receive six months' free business support coaching provided by local supplier ActionCOACH.

Sir Mike Penning MP said: “Dacorum’s Den is one of the highlights of my year and this year was certainly no exception. The panel were all impressed by the presentations of the entrepreneurs who took up the challenge and I am delighted that we were able to grant so many awards.

"I often come across previous winners when I am out and about and it is fascinating to see how their businesses have grown and to learn how useful the Dacorum Den’s grant was to them. I look forward to seeing how this year’s winners do in the future. Congratulations to you all.”

Cllr Sheron Wilkie, our Portfolio Holder for Place, said: “I would like to congratulate the 10 entrepreneurs who successfully pitched their ideas for this year’s Dacorum’s Den award. I look forward to seeing these innovative and interesting businesses grow year by year with the funding and practical support this award brings. We are committed to supporting small and start-up businesses, which bring a huge positive boost to the local Dacorum business community.”

In its 10th anniversary year, Dacorum’s Den has now awarded more than £100,000 to 80 local businesses, supporting growth and creating additional jobs in the borough.

If you are a Dacorum business and would like to get involved with sponsoring this initiative next year, please email our Economic Development Team on business@dacorum.gov.uk.

Looking to apply for Dacorum’s Den funding next year? Sign up to our Business Email Newsletter to keep updated on the launch of the 2024 scheme.

Find out more about our winners

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  • Art by Vanessa - Crafty Team Building
    Crafty Team Building logo

    Funds awarded: £2,000

    Crafty Team Building delivers engaging art and craft experiences to company colleagues. The benefits are empowerment, mindfulness, personal learning for wellbeing and social bonding. The company makes creativity accessible to busy colleagues, without the need for a lengthy learning curve, which can be off-putting. Colleagues have access to an art form, through step-by-step instruction and hands-on guidance, usually during a one-hour workshop, enabling a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.

    Crafty Team Building also provides social connection whether in-person or online, supports personal learning which is inherent to wellbeing, and gives teams permission to switch off from work, in a non-hierarchical environment. Workshops are designed to have a benefit, above and beyond just doing something fun.

    The grant funding awarded will enable founder Vanessa Hastings to move away from Art By Vanessa and build a new website for Crafty Team Building that encourages more enquiries from a global market. The funds will also support SEO marketing for approximately six months. The funding is a fantastic growth mechanism for Crafty Team Building as global online workshops is a growing and profitable channel.

    Vanessa said: “Crafty Team Building is delighted to have been recognised as a worthy winner of the grant funding. The vision of the company embraces growth across the globe and to achieve that, a better website platform was required, with enhanced user experience and user interface. Crafty Team Building is grateful to Dacorum Borough Council for supporting local fledgling businesses in their growth stages. Without this monetary support, things are just that little bit harder.”

    Website: www.craftyteambuilding.com

    Vanessa Hastings receives a cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Coach and Bloom
    Coach and Bloom logo

    Funds awarded: £2,000

    Coach and Bloom was founded by Gemma Rabbini to enable businesses to retain female talent, particularly as they navigate 'career squiggles' such as maternity leave and new leadership roles. 

    The funding will allow the business to run its first in-person event - Maternity Return: Career Confidence and Clarity. This event is for HR Equality, Diversity and Inclusion teams to empower and retain maternity returners in their companies. This investment will fund the pilot event in Dacorum including venue hire, materials and resources for the event. The engaging content will focus entirely on supporting women with their personal impact, brand, mindset, clarity, and career transition. This will mean businesses can reduce employee churn post maternity leave and build diverse senior teams by retaining future female leaders.

    Gemma said: “The experience of Dacorum's Den was great. Applying was a good opportunity to be robust about your plans and consider carefully what would make the difference to your business. The support from Dacorum Borough Council was excellent throughout the process. The dragons were much less 'dragonny' than I imagined. This made the process very enjoyable and on the day the panel had great advice, ideas and suggestions to expand my services.

    "Even after the event the Dragons were in touch to offer contacts and connections - I was blown away! On the Awards Day there were fellow business owners in the room to share experiences and build my local network. One of the most valuable additions to the money itself is the support from a business coach to ensure that you don't 'get in your own way' when investing and growing your reputation and commercial confidence. What an honour to be part of the process. It has opened up avenues that never would have been possible for me. Thank you Dacorum's Den.”

    Website: www.coachandbloom.co.uk

    Gemma Rabbini receives a cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Forever Flowers
    Forever Flowers logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    Jane and Nick Brand are co-founders of Forever Flowers, a new start-up business providing a rental service of artificial and silk floral tributes to the funeral industry. Their service makes the process of choosing a high-quality floral display, easy, sustainable and, most importantly, cost effective by reducing the supply of funeral flowers by approximately 80 per cent.

    Forever Flowers provide dedicated funeral packages. All tributes are of the highest quality and represent an exact replica to fresh flowers with the added benefit of being 'multi-use'. This allows them to provide a rental delivery and pick up service. With the high cost of living and a real focus on reducing waste, Forever Flowers is providing a much-needed carbon footprint and cost reduction solution, where quality cannot be compromised.

    The £1,000 awarded will go towards the building of the company website, helping families, in part, to organise their loved one's funeral service.  

    Jane said: "Forever Flowers' mission is to provide support and financial help to grieving families, at the time they need it most. We are very grateful for this financial award and pleased that the judges agreed that working with perishable goods, such as fresh flowers, represented challenges around cost, quality and availability - challenges Forever Flowers is looking to solve.

    "The process of applying for the grant was easy and the assessment panel on the day were very engaging, which really put us at ease."

    Website: www.facebook.com/people/Forever-Flowers-4-Hire/61551216148620/

    Jane and Nick Brand receive their cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Hops and Apples
    Hops and Apples logo

    Funds awarded: £2,000

    Husband and wife team Tony and Tracey Hosier run Hops and Apples Ltd, a local and unique craft beer and cider shop in Hemel Hempstead. They received funding for branded jute bags and mailing boxes, which will allow them to remove plastic bags and offer customers more sustainable greener packaging for purchases, as well as increasing awareness of the business and encouraging repeat purchases.

    The branded mailing boxes enable them to launch a subscription service for online customers to appreciate the fine craft-curated selection of beers, ciders and lagers in their homes. This will unlock an e-commerce revenue stream from both local and UK-wide trade.

    Tony said: “We were both delighted to be considered by Dacorum Den’s and the fact we have won this grant means the world to us. It was truly amazing to have been recognised for our hard work and our ideas for moving Hops and Apples into the next stage of our business plan.

    "The whole process was well organised and everyone made us feel so welcome and at ease when presenting our ideas. Thank you for believing in this gem of a craft beer and cider shop. We would highly recommend this scheme to all small businesses who need support and help with moving their business forward.”

    Website: https://hopsandapples.co.uk

    Tony and Tracey Hosier receive their cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Little Kits
    Little Kits logo

    Funds awarded: £1,500

    Little Kits was co-founded by Natalie Lynn and Beth Roberts in 2021. The Tring-based business hires themed children’s party kits containing reusable decorations and tableware. The aim is to help families across Dacorum throw stylish, stress-free and sustainable children’s parties by significantly reducing the use of single-use, disposable party supplies. 

    Little Kits will be investing the grant in a marketing plan to raise awareness in the local area. The first initiative will be an inter-school competition that aims to educate families on the party kit concept, while also incentivising and rewarding the school and the families that take part. The second will be a six-month, geo-targeted social media advertising campaign. 

    Natalie and Beth said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the Dacorum's Den grant. The process was so easy and everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. We were a little nervous about the pitch itself, but the judges were very welcoming and made us feel really at ease. We would encourage anyone eligible to take part.

    "It is a brilliant way to focus on your business goals and refine your business plan, even if you don’t win. It's also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs in the area, swap ideas and motivate each other to succeed. We’re so excited to get started on the next phase of our marketing, which we wouldn’t have been able to implement without the grant.”

    Website: www.little-kits.co.uk

    Natalie Lynn and Beth Roberts receive their cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Nugget Golf
    Nugget Golf logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    Nugget Golf is a technology start-up set to revolutionise the way golfers practise. They are doing this through an advanced camera system that uses state-of-the-art machine learning to detect and analyse golf swings when at a driving range. The platform also connects golfers to PGA teaching professionals who will provide detailed analysis of the swing. This means golfers of all levels can practise with purpose, with less frustration and more positive engagement overall.

    Funding was awarded to help Nugget Golf expand its technology infrastructure, with a focus on enabling more golfers to access this technology, by adding additional cameras and signs to driving range bays. The additional equipment will enable them to expand to more golf ranges, helping golfers of all skill levels improve their game. This grant provides the necessary resources to bring this vision to life, furthering their commitment to the sport and the growth of their business.

    Co-founder James Charalambous said: “Being a recipient of the Dacorum’s Den grant has been a game changer for Nugget Golf. The experience, from pitching our idea to receiving the award, has not only provided essential funding but also connected us with a vibrant community of local start-ups. This support from Dacorum Borough Council goes beyond the monetary value. It is a testament to the encouragement and empowerment they provide to innovative businesses like ours.

    "We are proud to be part of a community that fosters entrepreneurship and grateful for the opportunities that Dacorum’s Den has unlocked for Nugget Golf. The awards lunch provided the opportunity to meet and get to know other like-minded people, who are on their journey to create companies which impact people not only in the area but across the country.”

    Website: https://nugget.golf

    James Charalambous receives his cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Sabre Associates – Smartest Marketing
    Sabre Associates logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    Anna Hutton-North, Director at Sabre Associates, runs a marketing consultancy specialising in helping companies create smart marketing strategies that deliver a real return on opportunities generated, increased brand visibility and new clients. Anna has been awarded £1,000 to build an online demo for Smartest Marketing, the software being created by the team to allow business owners to create their own marketing strategy quickly and effectively.  

    The software takes the development team’s experience in identifying and gathering the data required to generate a marketing strategy to support businesses' growth plans. It becomes the virtual Marketing Director for the organisation and can be used by anyone, so no marketing experience is required.  

    Anna said: “When Dacorum Borough Council launched this year’s Dacorum’s Den we knew that we wanted to apply. The team were so helpful with the application process and the judges were welcoming and encouraging, despite the tight timeslots. It was something that any business in Dacorum who is looking at a new venture for their business should consider.

    "The grant will allow us to develop an online demo of our Smartest Marketing tool, so that we can then seek funding for the full development next year. We know how tricky it can be for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to create effective marketing strategies and we want our software to make a real difference to these companies.  It has made a real difference to us being able to start work on the demo now.”

    Website: www.sabreassociates.co.uk

    Anna Hutton-North receives a cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • Someone Brilliant

    Someone Brilliant logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    Someone Brilliant is a curated online platform connecting e-commerce creatives with online retailers, something historically discovered through word-of-mouth referrals. The website features a diverse range of e-commerce specialists, allowing freelancers to creatively showcase their talents and gain industry visibility.

    The £1,000 grant will be invested in social media training and content creation, with a focus on Instagram and TikTok, empowering business owner Jennie Vallance to independently create engaging content.

    Jennie said: “Winning Dacorum's Den was fantastic, and attending the awards ceremony alongside Sir Mike Penning MP, the judges, the Mayor, and other awardees was a great experience. It was really interesting to hear about the other winners and to be part of a networking group moving forwards - this is invaluable alongside the funding and coaching.

    "I highly recommend anyone interested to apply for Dacorum's Den. The entire team has been incredibly supportive throughout and the journey exceptionally rewarding.”

    Jennie Vallance receives her cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • The Cyro Hub
    The Cryo Hub logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    The Cryo Hub aims to transform customer's lives and wellbeing through the power of the cold by making state-of-the-art cryotherapy available on the high street.  Situated within the existing Wellness Hub in Berkhamsted, customers can easily access cryotherapy and, if needed, benefit from the broader expertise available on site, including expert physiotherapists, IV boosts and a range of other supplementary therapies.

    The funding will go towards online marketing to build brand awareness and further educate on the benefits of this transformative technique.

    Owner Steven Corney said: “Dacorum’s Den was very enjoyable. Distilling an entire business case into a 10-minute pitch is a good challenge for any business to do.  Then being able to answer questions from a broad panel of experts takes that challenge one step further. In that respect, regardless of the outcome, it is a good exercise for any prospective business owner to try.  The dragons are much friendlier than the TV ones, too!”

    Website:  https://thecryohub.co.uk

    The Cryo Hub team receives a cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
  • The Good Grower
    The Good Grower logo

    Funds awarded: £1,000

    The Good Grower specialises in natural and sustainable plant nutrition based on the simple science that plants thrive in happy, well-fed soil. With organic ingredients, eco-friendly and compostable packaging, The Good Grower offers gardeners a sustainable way to achieve beautiful and bountiful plants without using man-made chemicals.

    The Dacorum’s Den funding will be used to buy manufacturing machinery to produce the product in a consumer-facing format and be launched to the market. It will enable them to take an exciting step toward developing the business from tested prototype to saleable product.

    The Good Grower's Lauren Sharkey said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded funding through Dacorum’s Den. It will allow us to grow our business and develop further alongside the valuable business coaching we will receive. It was fantastic to meet such a diverse range of small, local businesses at the awards event who we hope to connect and learn from.”

    Website: https://thegoodgrower.co.uk

    The Good Grower team receive a cheque from the Dacorum's Den panel
Page Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2023 at 09:50 AM