Successful Gatwick Diamond business competition launches for fifth year

Young Start-up Talent's launch event at Crawley Town Football Club (submitted/photo by Jon Rigby).
Young Start-up Talent's launch event at Crawley Town Football Club (submitted/photo by Jon Rigby).

A business competition for 16-25-year-olds in the Gatwick Diamond launched for a fifth year last Thursday July 17.

Young Start-up Talent, which sees young people pitch their bright ideas to the area’s business leaders for a chance to win £50,000 tools to help kick-start their business, was launched by sponsors, judges, past winners and entrants at a special event at Crawley Town Football Club.

Aimed at encouraging young people to start their own business, entries have even been submitted before the official opening date, with some of those quick off the mark invited to last week’s event.

One young entrepreneur was eager to display his ‘can-do’ attitude towards business and presented his idea to the 50 guests and was able to discuss his idea early on with the sponsors and judges.

Jonny Washington-Jones, a student at Horsham’s College of Richard Collyer, said: “I first found out about the initiative when one of the Young Start-up Talent team visited my college to discuss the process.

“The support that’s provided seemed so beneficial to me and my idea, I wanted to find out more and was invited to come along to the launch.”

Heading up the judging panel this year is, Daryl Gayler, managing director of RBS in the South, Matthew Tyson, director of Richard Place Dobson Accountants, Jane McGill, HR business partner for British Airways- Engineering, Peter Hitchcock, vice president of Thales, Lorraine Nugent, director of Media Word Waves, Gary Shipton, editor in chief of the West Sussex County Times, and Matt Turner, managing director of Creative Pod.

Previous winners and finalists attended the event to talk of their developments and progress that they have made since entering.

Ashlie Regan from Miscella Fragrance, a 2013 finalist updated guests on her plans for her company and shared pictures of her first prototype. All who attended were excited to hear about her journey and the development of her product, awaiting in anticipation to find out the next step for her business.

Sam French from Sam’s Kitchen, who won 2013’s competition, shared details of his journey over the last 18 months and how the products and services provided as part of the prize package have helped to move his business forward from baking his gingerbread men at home in small quantities to being able to produce more than 20,000 per day.

A three minute video of 2014’s winner Henry Rogers of Hot Iron was shown to the audience to showcase his blacksmithing skills which showed him making one of his best sellers a ‘heart hook’ from start to finish.

Henry was Young Start-up Talent’s youngest winner at just 16 years old and is growing his customer base with orders for bespoke items such as gates and fireplaces to jewellery that he makes on his forge in his workshop at home while juggling A-levels.

Over the past year the initiative has announced a host of exciting new developments, including the signing of a six part ‘fly on the wall’ TV documentary with Latest TV.

Filming has already started and will continue over the next six months and includes both past and present entries. The series will be broadcast in December/January 2015.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, has supported the initiative since its inception and said: “It’s great to be supporting Young Start-up Talent in what is now its fifth year in the Gatwick Diamond.

“I believe that anything that can help and support young people in the local area should be celebrated. It’s fantastic how the initiative is growing outside of the local area that was started five years ago in the Crawley is growing from strength to strength year on year.”

The team will be visiting the local schools and colleges during September, October and November to engage, inspire and advise on business ideas with groups of young entrepreneurs.

If you would like one of the team to come and visit your school or would like to find out more visit

The deadline for entries is December 30 2014 with a showcase event scheduled to be at Lingfield Park Marriot Hotel on March 2 2015.