To give small businesses a boost this year, we launched our Take Flight competition. This aims to give small businesses a chance to win £5,000 and offers business advice from celebrity entrepreneur Carol Vorderman and three other successful business owners.

For a chance of winning one of ten bursaries, entrants were invited to tell our team of business experts how the money would drive their growth.

We selected a team of successful entrepreneurs to judge the competition, who each brought unique and expert insight. TV presenter and entrepreneur Carol Vorderman (pictured above, second from left) who runs The Maths Factor was joined by Belinda Kirk, (second from right) founder of Explorers Connect; Claud Williams (above right), founder of Dream Nation; and Chika Russel (pictured left), founder of Chika’s Snacks.

Our judges were impressed by the huge quantity and also quality of the applications submitted by Starling Bank business customers; choosing ten winners was not easy.

Meet the winners

Pivot - This social enterprise equips homeless people with entrepreneurial know-how and jewellery-making skills. Alice Moxley, the founder of Pivot, will use the bursary to run jewellery making workshops that help alter public perceptions of homelessness.

Harmonious Flo - The app, founded by Alexis Abayomi and Sasha Cayward, aims to help manage symptoms of menstruation by equipping users with personalised nutrition and lifestyle guidance. The founders plan to take the app out of beta mode and launch a marketing campaign.

Onwe Press - Kosi Amayo and Mariam Jimoh’s publishing and lifestyle brand amplifies diverse voices and expresses under-represented ideals and cultures. With this bursary, they’ll continue their mission to improve representation in literature.

Hippo Mat - Driving instructor turned entrepreneur Marcos Millet creates children’s play mats that are personalised to their hometown. Marcos plans to expand his business across the UK - could it be the next Peppa Pig?

Maths for Life - Karen McGuigan launched Maths for Life during the pandemic. The programme helps people with learning difficulties or those who fall behind the curriculum to gain essential maths skills. The bursary will help launch a community engagement programme to raise awareness of the initiative.

Mecoco - Jenny Trott’s social enterprise helps people with disabilities to learn valuable employability skills - through making sustainable candles. The bursary will help support as she offers one of Mecoco’s volunteers long-term, paid work.

Move Better Run Better - John Beattie founded his marathon coaching business to provide safe, professional training, after an attempt to run an Olympic qualifying time at the New York Marathon resulted in him being taken home in a wheelchair. He plans to hire a new coach for his business and broaden its partnerships network.

Cake or Death - Katie Cross’s vegan brownies conveniently fit through the letter box, and come in a hot pink leopard print box. She’ll be scaling up the bakery’s presence in the UK, which will require a pink leopard print van of course.

Handmade in Harpenden - As an asthma sufferer herself, Farhana Haque set up her business to create all-natural products and scents that don’t trigger allergies or conditions. Along with her co-founder Henry, she plans to develop the brand’s packaging and reach new customers.

TPS Fibreglass - This family-run business was founded by Emma Baylis and Todd Smith, and makes bespoke fibreglass moulds for everything from cars to kitchens using 3D scanning and reverse engineering techniques. This grant will help them develop the technology used in the process.

Thank you to everyone that entered, on behalf of our competition judges, and everyone at Starling Bank. Congratulations to the competition winners.

Ongoing small business support

Starling has been named Britain’s Best Business Bank for the last three years. We offer 450,000+ business customers best-in-class service. From the Starling Business Toolkit to our Marketplace integrations with partners such as Xero and Quickbooks, we help make it easier for our customers to focus on what they do best: growing their business.

For businesses that want expert advice, our free Business Guides are full of practical tips on everything from filing a tax return to writing a business plan. Guidance for fellow entrepreneurs is also offered by our Take Flight judges.

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