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One of the things I love about my job is the freedom I have to get involved with the local business community at a variety of different levels. Usually thing tends to involve sitting on committees and looking at things at a fairly high level such as helping to set and monitor the local economic development strategy. However, nothing pleases me more than being able to get out and about and actually meet with business owners running their own businesses and finding out what issues (legal and non-legal) they face on a day to day basis.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being a “dragon” for the Spark Business Idea 2014 competition hosted and organised by Stockport Business and Innovation Centre in Braodstone Mill. Gorvins were one of the sponsors, where each sponsor was offering some form of support to the winner ranging from legal, accountancy and intellectual property advice and support through to creative design, marketing and PR advice and support as well as office space for 12 months courtesy of the Stockport Business and Innovation Centre.

On the day of judging we heard accomplished pitches from the 3 businesses that had been shortlisted from all the initial entries. The ideas ranged from “T-board” (an alternative to tongue and groove which can be lifted and replaced without damaging the surrounding pieces of wood) through to a range of innovative products aimed at funerals as way of saying a personalised goodbye to loved ones from a company called Inspired Goodbyes (www.inspiredgoodbyes.co.uk) finishing with the “flopy’wester” a made in England, luxury, handmade hat which is reversible and perfect for both the rain and sunshine from a company called Stott & Scott (www.stottandscott.com) whose long term aim is to bring hatting back to Stockport in the 21st century.

As dragons we asked plenty of questions to understand the products pitched and the business plans and aspirations going forward for each business, although, being the kind souls we are, we were far easier on those pitching than the real dragons on BBC!

After hearing the pitches the judges adjourned for a heated debate on the winner which at times felt like a scene from “12 Angry Men” as we came up with the eventual winner, namely Inspired Goodbyes and their range of products providing family and friends a personal way to say goodbye to loved ones.

However, the judges were so impressed by all the entries, where in particular Stott & Scott had given inspired Goodbyes an excellent run for their money, the judges and sponsors agreed to make some form of support available to all 3 finalists.

Having heard about the finalists exciting proposals going forward, I look forward to working with the finalists in the future and on behalf of everyone here at Gorvins I wish all the finalists a prosperous and successful future and hope they develop their impressive growth potential to create successful Stockport based brands and businesses going forward.

e-mail: christian.mancier@gorvins.com

twitter: @mancier