Young Business Person of the Year 2023


Category criteria

  • Entrants for this category must be aged 40 or under on January 1, 2024.
  • Entrants could be employed or self-employed but should be directly responsible for the success of their enterprise.
  • The judges will be looking for evidence of the entrants’ determination to make the most of new opportunities to help fuel their company’s success.

Daniel Waterman

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Transforming the way an industry is perceived is not an easy task. Encouraging others to buy into your creative art can be just as difficult.
Daniel Waterman, of Carse & Waterman, was determined he could achieve this through the power of animation.
He recognised that his adopted home city of Stoke-on-Trent had unlocked potential and, along with business partner Gary Carse, decided to stay and run a business in the city after completing his Staffordshire University Animation degree.
The journey has seen Daniel embrace new technologies, techniques and trends to enhance the company’s offerings.
To add to the mission of encouraging others to incorporate animation as a form of communication and not just entertainment, Daniel was also keen to create more awareness for Stoke-on-Trent and what the city offers.
He and his team have continuously crafted captivating stories in every project. The determination to push boundaries and embrace change has earned them the reputation of being a trusted partner within the animation industry.
Carse & Waterman has become the go to source for clients who recognise the value of incorporating animation into their communication strategies - strategies which have seen others reap the benefits and grow themselves.
Daniel has also helped to shape the creative landscape within Stoke-on-Trent. He is at the heart of the city’s creative community and invites others to collaborate on projects with his business.
He said: “It has been a continual journey and a journey which has proved successful. There are new opportunities around each corner and the team is determined to seize them whilst at the same time constantly driving the pursuit of innovation in everything we do.”
Daniel has entered the Entrepreneur of the Year, Alumni Business Person of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Chloe Breeze

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Illustrator, designer, mural artist, live portrait and event artist, art teacher, online shop owner, workshop facilitator and businesswoman – Chloe Breeze wears many hats but they are all beautifully designed.
The Staffordshire University illustration alumni worked as a book designer, florist and in admin at Wedgwood before taking the plunge during the pandemic to work on her own art full-time.
She has already sold thousands of products, drawn thousands of people at live events, taught thousands of pupils in workshops at dozens of schools and thousands of people have seen her artwork in public places.
Her murals have been commissioned by businesses and organisations including World of Wedgwood, The Donna Louise Hospice, Potteries Shopping Centre, Appetite and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. Many are on display in public places while others have been commissioned by individuals for their homes.
Chloe’s business started with personalised portraits then diversified into an online shop, primarily with Stoke-on-Trent themed gifts designed to celebrate her hometown including tea towels, mugs, coasters, prints, colouring books and more. Her products are now also available to buy in shops around the county.
Chloe said: “Working in the community and with the people of Stoke-on-Trent being so friendly is a big part of what I do and why I do it.
“I meet and work with so many people who want to uplift the city and I want to do that too, through my artwork.
“Having different strands to my work means that I can work within the community in different ways. One part of why I love my business so much is that I can do all of these different things.”
Chloe Breeze has entered the Young Business Person of the Year and Alumni Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Reece Thornton-Bate

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Reece Thornton-Bate’s pandemic side hustle, a competition to give away a pair of football boots on Facebook,  has turned into a fully-fledged online business on course to turn over more than £1 million this year.
Phat Lads Competitions has thousands of online followers and Reece has even launched a charitable foundation on the back of his business’s success.
The 30-year-old , from Cheadle, set up Phat Lads during the height of Covid in 2020.
Three years on the company’s got its own office in Hanley, has amassed 40,000 Facebook followers (including closed group members) and 23,000 TikTok followers. It now has a team of five including Reece’s dad, Paul Bate, who is also now a shareholder of the business.
More than 1,000 people have won prizes totalling around £1 million including cars, cash, tech and toys.
In its first year of trading the company turned over £200,000, last year it was around £652,000 and Phat Lads has already exceeded last year’s turnover in the first six months of this year.
Reece’s aim is to turn over more than £2.5 million next year, which he is well on course to achieving.
Reece studied IT at Leek College and has an IT, sales and recruitment background having worked for a number of private sector companies.
He said: “Initially I set it up as a bit of fun and ran a competition to win some football boots on a Facebook page. Timing is everything I guess and because we were in lockdown people had a lot of time on their hands. The page got more popular, so I started doing more and more giveaways.
“The number of followers really grew - literally snowballing – to the point where it got big enough for me to quit my day job, closely followed by my dad who also left his full-time role to run Phat Lads with me.
“I think I knew from that very first competition, which started as a bit of fun, that it had the potential to be something really big and although some may have seen leaving a good job to go it alone as a risk. The risk has really paid off.
“Seeing the Phat Lads community grow has been fantastic. I’ve always been ambitious and wanted to use the experience I’d gained in my career to build something that I could put my name to.
“Me and Dad have got a great relationship and have lots of fun doing Facebook lives and TikTok which seems to have captured people’s imagination because we do such daft things. Hopefully we make people laugh as well as giving them the chance to win some great prizes, although we obviously always urge people to be gamble aware.
Earlier this year the Phat Lads Charitable Foundation was established after Reece and the team helped a number of people with fundraising activities and donations over the last few years. That included helping raise money for the family of a three-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent who has cancer.
Reese added: “I’ve got big expansions plans for the future and as a team we want to do all we can to rival the biggest competition websites in the country. Next year we want to be turning over £2.5 million which with the plans we have in place is achievable.”
Reece has entered the Young Business Person of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Tom Yorke

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Tom Yorke brought in a major contract for his employer worth around £750,000 per year for five years.
He joined Newcastle-under-Lyme based building services company Ford Mainwaring during the pandemic after being made redundant by his previous employer.
Now he has been singled out for his “exceptional talent, dedication, and commitment to growth in the mechanical and electrical sector” and nominated in the Young Business Person of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards by his boss.
Dan Bailey, Business Leader at Ford Mainwaring, said: ‘I have known Tom for over 10 years and worked with him when he was first getting started in the industry as an apprentice. It’s a credit to his hard work and enthusiasm to learn new skills that he has reached a key management position.
“He has a great ability to work with people in such a way to encourage and get the best out of their abilities as well as develop the teams’ skills.”
He said Tom made an immediate impact at Ford Mainwaring by securing a contract covering National Highways key buildings and outstations across the UK.
This meant that Tom needed to create a new team around him to deliver the contract including a full-time position created at the business HQ along with four full-time mobile engineering positions created across the country to support the delivery of the project.
Fast forward to 2023 and Tom has strengthened his team with the appointment of a contracts manager to support the National Highways contract and assist Tom with moving away from the day-to-day operations of the contract to look at other opportunities.
Most recently Tom has been involved with bidding for an MOJ national maintenance contract which is for three years and supports full time roles for more than 15 members of staff. The contract has now been awarded to Ford Mainwaring.
Tom will have an account manager position across the MOJ and National Highways teams where he will have more than 20 staff in his team.

Jensen Lymer

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Jensen Lymer may not have turned 18 at the time he was entered as Young Business Person of the Year in the Staffordshire University Business Awards, but he is already proving to be a huge asset for the multi-million-pound company he works for.
He joined JPR Group Ltd as an apprentice electrician engineer in July 2021, aged just 16.
However, a few months into his training he took a colour blindness test and failed. Jensen funded two further tests himself with an optician and an occupational health company.
Both came back positive meaning he could no longer continue his electrical training. Jensen was devastated, as were his family.
But because JPR had seen such potential, they did not want to let him go so they brainstormed and created a role for him as a junior engineer and quantity surveyor.
They are giving him two years general training, learning all about the diverse business from the shop-floor upwards. At the end of this period, they will assess his needs in terms of training and skills to move in a direction best suited to him. This may be an HMC higher level qualification. Basically, whatever is right for him to grow educationally and vocationally.
Paula Fergusson, Company Secretary at the Stoke-on-Trent company, said: “Jensen Lymer is a very talented and determined young man. And for someone who only turns 18 in April 2023, he is already a huge asset to our business.
“I would describe Jensen as being smart, articulate, respectful, very driven with a positive mindset.
He can relate to anyone of any age or status in the company and he helps to mentor and support many of the apprentices and has even been known to support and mentor staff much older and more experienced than he is.
“Jensen’s hobby is cage fighting and I believe that this has helped him with his discipline, respect and focus which he displays in the workplace. “
She added: “Every task that Jensen undertakes is carried out with enthusiasm and a desire to learn from the experience.
“He is ‘sponge-like’ in the way he absorbs knowledge. Both technical and in the wider context of how the job he is doing relates to the wider business.
“It really is a pleasure to have Jensen as part of JPR Group and he is having a very positive and motivational effect on everyone he comes in to contact with internally and externally.
“Despite being with JPR Group for less than two years Jensen has already had a positive impact on the business in many ways. His positivity and determination are infectious, and he inspires and subtly challenges others to achieve.
“He could have so easily given up when he found he was colour-blind, but this only seems to have made him more determined to prove himself and to forge ahead with his career.
“It is still early days for Jensen but its sometimes difficult to remember he is not yet 18 at the time of submitting this award.”
Building services specialists, JPR group was established in 1972. The company has seen turnover grow in the past three years from around £10M to an estimated £20M at the end of the current financial year.
Group divisions include Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing, Fire and Security and Data and Telecoms.

Charlotte Whitaker

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Sports therapist Charlotte Whitaker graduated from Staffordshire University just last year and stayed in the area to launch her fledgling business on campus.
The 27-year-old graduated with a BA in Sports Therapy in July 2022 and now runs Phoenix Sports Therapy Clinic from The Science Centre on the Stoke-on-Trent campus.
Charlotte treats members of the public as well as the University community and is keen to stress that she works with people from all walks of life and with different types of injuries as well as sportspeople.
She said: “Setting up the clinic was an opportunity provided by the University and my former course leader and senior lecturer, Rebecca Warnett.
“Since opening, the business has been gradually building, treating both members of the public and those within the sporting community.”
Charlotte is currently negotiating a deal to provide massage, assessments and rehabilitation to a cheerleading team.
She opens her clinic from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9am through until 8pm.
“It’s still in its infancy but is growing steadily. My ambition is to own my own premises one day and to be able to offer a mobile service.”
Charlotte has been promoting her business through the Staffordshire University Students Union and through social media accounts she’s set up.
She added: “I also have a business WhatsApp as an additional source of being contacted. The business currently relies on word-of-mouth recommendations but I will be looking into other forms of advertising and other ways of promoting the business. To continue the growth of the business, I will also be looking at providing more offers and an eventual mobile service.”
Charlotte has entered the Young Business Person of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

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