Meet the successful applicants who have been invited to join the county’s inaugural new development programme for entrepreneurs and businesses.

MEET THE SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS OF 2020

Tracey Smith

Ashmira Botanica

Ashmira Botanica, established in 2017, produces a professional waxing range, packed full of natural botanical ingredients, enabling waxing to be a luxurious treatment to hydrate and nourish the skin. The business sells to almost 800 salons and spas across the UK and seven countries overseas. Customers include Harrods, Champneys, Mandarin Oriental, The Bannatyne Group, David Lloyd, Spa Experience and many more.

“I am so happy to have been chosen to join the programme. I am really looking forward to having experienced people help me to take my business to the next stage. I only know what I know, and I am looking forward to a wealth of expertise that can guide me towards making my business a huge success, utilising their expertise and experience. It’s nice to know that the panel could see something in me and my business, and want to help me to succeed.” – Tracey Smith, Owner of Ashmira Botanica

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“I am so happy to have been chosen to join the programme. I am really looking forward to having experienced people help me to take my business to the next stage. I only know what I know, and I am looking forward to a wealth of expertise that can guide me towards making my business a huge success, utilising their expertise and experience. It’s nice to know that the panel could see something in me and my business, and want to help me to succeed.” – Tracey Smith, Owner of Ashmira Botanica

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Karen Jolly

Eskeez Thermals

Eskeez Thermals is a small business based in Somerset, designing, manufacturing and selling outstanding thermal base layers. Eskeez’s mission is to free bodies from the shackles of the cold where ever it takes you – from icy open waters, on the back of a horse, bike or mountain, shooting, golf or climbing. Its products are designed and manufactured in Britain and have evolved through a testing cycle for a life on the modern sports field ensuring they offer the ultimate protection in the face of any adventure.

“It is very flattering to have been invited to join the programme – the calibre of the business mentors and fellow entrepreneurs makes it a very stimulating environment. I am really looking forward to having interaction with the other candidates, swapping ideas and contacts and watching each other progress.” – Karen Jolly, Owner of Eskeez

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“It is very flattering to have been invited to join the programme – the calibre of the business mentors and fellow entrepreneurs makes it a very stimulating environment. I am really looking forward to having interaction with the other candidates, swapping ideas and contacts and watching each other progress.” – Karen Jolly, Owner of Eskeez

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Chris Jones

IN Reality

IN Reality develops Virtual Reality (VR) training applications for regulated industries such as aerospace, rail, transportation and energy. Its bespoke solutions allow users to train in a fully immersive realistic environment rather than use real assets (e.g. a nuclear plant) which can be expensive, difficult to access or dangerous.

“We are excited to be participating in the Somerset Catalyst programme. We are engineers and know we can deliver on the technical aspects of the business but need commercial and investment guidance to make the business viable, which hopefully the Catalyst programme can provide.” – Chris Jones, Owner of IN Reality

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“We are excited to be participating in the Somerset Catalyst programme. We are engineers and know we can deliver on the technical aspects of the business but need commercial and investment guidance to make the business viable, which hopefully the Catalyst programme can provide.” – Chris Jones, Owner of IN Reality

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Gareth Eggle

InShare SMART Risk

InShare SMART Risk creates cost effective and efficient insurance schemes for groups of companies and individuals, as well as large group companies. Within its unique and proprietary digital ecosystem commercial entities can join together as communities to share, manage, reduce and transfer risk. InShare will always deliver an equal or better level of insurance cover, and offer a comprehensive proposition that focuses more holistically on mitigating business risks and reducing frequency and severity.

“InShare SMART Risk have progressed significantly in recent months, and much of this is as a result of the excellent advice and guidance we have received from the Catalyst team. Being accepted onto the 2020/21 programme is an exciting prospect for us, as it provides an additional check for us to reaffirm we are on track. The diverse cohort in the Catalyst programme helps us to better understand the nuances that exist in varied sectors and evolve our messaging accordingly.” – Gareth Eggle, Chief Commercial Officer of InShare SMART Risk

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“InShare SMART Risk have progressed significantly in recent months, and much of this is as a result of the excellent advice and guidance we have received from the Catalyst team. Being accepted onto the 2020/21 programme is an exciting prospect for us, as it provides an additional check for us to reaffirm we are on track. The diverse cohort in the Catalyst programme helps us to better understand the nuances that exist in varied sectors and evolve our messaging accordingly.” – Gareth Eggle, Chief Commercial Officer of InShare SMART Risk

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Jo Christoforides

Make Me A Garden

Make Me A Garden is a digital business offering an affordable, flexible garden and planting design service free from hidden costs. Combined with the opportunity to easily purchase plants from the plans alongside thoughtfully curated garden products, the business encourages homeowners to personalise and enhance any outdoor space, confidently enabling even beginners to inject colour, style and variation into their garden transformations.

“I am most looking forward to meeting the other business founders and picking the brains of the experts and mentors! An objective sounding board is something that I’ll value immensely going forward. As the business plan grows and develops new elements are introduced and I become even more aware of the breadth and depth of the business model that I’m creating.” – Jo Christoforides, Founder of Make Me A Garden

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“I am most looking forward to meeting the other business founders and picking the brains of the experts and mentors! An objective sounding board is something that I’ll value immensely going forward. As the business plan grows and develops new elements are introduced and I become even more aware of the breadth and depth of the business model that I’m creating.” – Jo Christoforides, Founder of Make Me A Garden

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Russell Henny Peek

Offcut Studio

Offcut Studio uses high quality organic, recycled and reclaimed textiles to make environmentally friendly home products. All products are made from reclaimed offcuts from the garment industries. Offcut Studio combines style, functionality and ethical sustainability to create beautiful objects for your home, celebrating colour, shape, pattern and texture through our designs.

“Coming from the creative industries, I am really excited about the opportunity to learn directly from experts with very different experiences to my own and knowledge of making young businesses succeed. Having concentrated on producing sustainable home goods and the business image, I’m keen to focus on the next stage and feel that new perspectives on what I’m doing will lead to invaluable feedback and guidance.” – Russell Henny Peek, Owner of Offcut Studio

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“Coming from the creative industries, I am really excited about the opportunity to learn directly from experts with very different experiences to my own and knowledge of making young businesses succeed. Having concentrated on producing sustainable home goods and the business image, I’m keen to focus on the next stage and feel that new perspectives on what I’m doing will lead to invaluable feedback and guidance.” – Russell Henny Peek, Owner of Offcut Studio

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Simon Whitehead

White Spark Design

White Spark Design is a supplier of secure, sustainable, storage and charging solutions for bicycles and micro-mobility devices, such as e-Bikes, e-Scooters and e-Cargobikes. Sustainably manufactured, charging-ready solutions to securely park and store your bike either at home, the shops or workplace goes hand in hand with encouraging and facilitating this healthy, environmentally friendly and congestion busting method of travel. Great for the local community and the environment.

“I am ready and raring to get stuck in and with the assistance from the programme, I firmly believe I can get White Spark Design up and running more quickly and on the road to success. Collaboration with other Somerset businesses, along with expert advice and guidance from the mentoring team to help get the business from an idea into reality is what we are most looking forward to.” – Simon Whitehead, Co-Founder of White Spark Design

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“I am ready and raring to get stuck in and with the assistance from the programme, I firmly believe I can get White Spark Design up and running more quickly and on the road to success. Collaboration with other Somerset businesses, along with expert advice and guidance from the mentoring team to help get the business from an idea into reality is what we are most looking forward to.” – Simon Whitehead, Co-Founder of White Spark Design

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Omar Elhajji and Esther Lopez

Yumello

Yumello is a sought-after nut butter brand inspired by the Atlas Mountains. The passionate duo – Omar and Esther – are on a mission to bring an authentic North African culinary experience to discerning customers, as well as safeguarding the traditional craft and livelihoods of the Berber people in rural Morocco; and to ensure that it is doing everything it can not to negatively impact the environment. These founding principles, and the passion with which they are enacted, is driving this small Somerset business forward.

“Catalyst is unlike any other programme – it’s highly interactive and challenging too. We get to work with other businesses in the region, all challenging each other’s ideas and expectations. The mentors are instrumental – they were the ones that helped us create a workable value proposition for our business and we made a number of changes as a result. There’s no doubt the Catalyst programme is a big part of our success story so far.” – Omar Elhajji, Founder of Yumello

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“Catalyst is unlike any other programme – it’s highly interactive and challenging too. We get to work with other businesses in the region, all challenging each other’s ideas and expectations. The mentors are instrumental – they were the ones that helped us create a workable value proposition for our business and we made a number of changes as a result. There’s no doubt the Catalyst programme is a big part of our success story so far.” – Omar Elhajji, Founder of Yumello

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SUPPORTING OUR REGION