I had founded in February 2018, Able Move Ltd – my first leap into entrepreneurship… with a belief of making aviation more accessible for people with physical disabilities. Little did I know, seven months later Able Move would become not only a finalist but the winner of the UK Disabled Entrepreneurs Award 2018.
The awards which have been running for the past 12 years by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, in partnership with Leonard Cheshire is widely recognised across the UK for its continuous support and recognition of disabled entrepreneurs.
The way it is ran, you submit an application form by a certain deadline – meeting specific criteria. You are then shortlisted to a final 5 (if judges like your business idea) and you are asked to go and do a video shoot ahead of the awards. On the day of the awards you are also invited to present to Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his board of trustees for the foundation – it is essentially a Dragon’s Den style interview. After, you then have a nervous wait until the awards ceremony in the evening. Which this year was hosted at the Royal Chelsea Hospital.
The day for me started off the back of a long 12-hour day where took Able Move onto an easyJet flight, with the hope it would spark a twinkle in people’s eyes during the Dragon’s Den pitch.
Throughout the day, we made various videos in the hope to show the versatility of the Able Move on the day. After flying from Bristol airport at 13:00 to Edinburgh and returning back to Bristol by 19:00 the same day, to then trek straight to the hotel in London – it was never going to be easy.
The morning of the awards (our presentation was not until 11:00), gave me some time, all of 30 minutes to upload one of our videos on the easyJet aircraft to YouTube. The problem being, I couldn’t connect to the hotel Wi-Fi and had to upload it via a bad 4G connection – I had one shot to get it uploaded in time, so we could catch the bus to get to the presentation. Thankfully, the video successfully uploaded and I managed to get it shared during the Dragon’s Den pitch – and there was most definitely a twinkle in people’s eyes.
After the pitch, we ventured around London nervously, whilst gradually making our way to Royal Chelsea Hospital. During the afternoon we had got a phone call from Bristol Radio to do a live interview over the phone. The backdrop was Battersea, which was a light up! The scene was incredible, whilst I took the interview over the phone before going into the grand hall for the awards.
Within five minutes, taken by surprise by Sir Stelios, he had introduced me to Johan Lundgren and (CEO of easyJet) and John Barton (Non-Executive Chairman of the Board for easyJet) for me to explain more about Able Move and what a privilege it was. They were blown back by the simplicity and the fact nobody had thought of the idea before.
Amazing people and something a 25-year-old wouldn’t dream of such an opportunity.
It came around to the announcements, the finalist videos were played on screen to the grand hall being nearly full. For us to then be announced the winner and receiving a cheque for £30,000 to kick start our business – followed by one of the hardest on the spot speeches I have ever done.
For me and Able Move it was not winning overall that counted, yes the money is fantastic however it was the platform for us to be recognised for what we have achieved by setting up our businesses and being entrepreneurs in front of some of the worlds most renowned business men and women. A 48 hour roller coast which I shall never ever forget.