Entrepreneurship in the East Midlands was celebrated last night at the first ever Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards

The inaugural winners of the Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards were announced last night at Radisson Blu Hotel at East Midlands Airport.

The ceremony is the first of its kind and was created off the back of the success of the Real Entrepreneurs’ Club, an exclusive networking association that brings together C-suite business people and entrepreneurs.

At the black tie event, which was headline sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals, guests and nominees gathered for a three course meal, to hear key note speakers, and to celebrate their peers’ achievements.

Former ITV anchor and BBC breakfast host Llewela Bailey, who is now a university lecturer compèred the evening with elegance and humour. She also conducted an exclusive Q&A session with East Midlands-based restaurateur Jaimon Thomas, who is the founder and franchisor of restaurants Herb and Kayal, Merchant of Venice and Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar, and recently appeared in Leicester’s Niche Magazine.

Professor Peter Stokes from Leicester Castle Business School was key note speaker. He discussed the pragmatism of UK businesses compared to the theory-driven work of our European neighbours, as well as ‘micro-moments’ and their impact on an entire organisation.

The Club also publishes Real Entrepreneurs’ Magazine twice a year which tells the stories of experienced entrepreneurs in a bid to inspire and encourage entrepreneurship in the East Midlands.

The Club, its awards ceremony and magazine are produced by Cross Productions, which is also the parent company of Leicester-based Niche Magazine.

Jenny Cross, CEO of Cross Productions said: “I have always benefited from being in the same room as forward thinking entrepreneurs. There is a culture of knowledge sharing that’s almost infectious. By sharing knowledge, we all benefit, and as a result, our businesses grow and improve, and the economy feels the positive effects of that. I was really proud to see such an eclectic mix of personalities, industries and thought leaders and have many ideas already buzzing around my head for how we can develop the Real Entrepreneurs brand moving forwards.”

Winner of the most anticipated award of the night, Entrepreneurs’ Entrepreneur, Saleem Arif of ReviewSolicitors, said upon receiving the award: “This means an awful lot. It’s been a lot of hard work over the years and there’s been lots of big ups and downs along the way but to get an award like this makes it all worthwhile.”

The full list of winners:

Start Up Entrepreneur
Sponsored by Kazzoo IT
Narinder Nijjar – Fraser Stretton

Scale-up Entrepreneur
Sponsored by Patterson Commercial Law
Sophie Hainsworth – LoyalFree

Innovation in Entrepreneurship
Sponsored by Growth Partners
Lee Paxman-Clarke HEAL.Med

Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the year
Sponsored by BTT
Jake Karia – Jake & Nayns’

Entrepreneur for Good
Sponsored by Ian Guyler Business Consulting
Chris Cain – Kazzoo IT

Entrepreneurial Spirit
Sponsored by JSP Virtual
Nisha Pahuja – Charnwood Regency Guest House

Entrepreneurial Educator
Sponsored by Premier Logistics
Dawn Edwards – Challenge Consulting

Entrepreneurial Collaborator
Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin
Sophie Hainsworth – LoyalFree

International Entrepreneur of the Year
Sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals
Mick Ventola – Ventola Projects

The Entrepreneurs’ Entrepreneur
Sponsored by Fraser Stretton Property Group
Saleem Arif – ReviewSolicitors

About Real Entrepreneurs’ Club
One of the East Midlands’ premier forums for entrepreneurs, The Real Entrepreneurs’ Club is about getting the right people in the same room to talk and share ideas on driving business forward and develop ideas across the board. Launched in 2016, we provide investors and entrepreneurs with new business contacts and ideas. With inspirational speakers at all our events we aim to match up the right people, ensuring a mutual benefit for all involved.

Taking great pride in supporting and encouraging entrepreneurialism, we also aim to support and help shape young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs. With a strong foundation of associate partners made up of great leaders from local businesses, many of which operate across the country, we have a superb mix of professional and commercial contacts from a variety of sectors.

After a particularly challenging 18 months for many businesses, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in entrepreneurship. The Real Entrepreneurs’ Awards have been born to both recognise and celebrate those who have truly excelled in the face of adversity.

In line with our ethos and values around entrepreneurship, the Real Entrepreneurs’ Club Magazine was launched in December 2021 and is distributed across the East Midlands.