Care home therapy provider takes young entrepreneur title

Oomph Wellness wins 2012 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award

Ben Allen, the entrepreneur behind targeted therapy provider to care homes Oomph Wellness, has been named the 30th Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

The 27-year-old from Scarborough started Oomph in 2011 to offer exercise, dance and art therapy sessions to the elderly across the north of England. He secured the title and £10,000 prize money amid stiff competition from seven other finalists in the awards for entrepreneurs aged 16-30.

In the past 18 months Allen, a sport and leisure management graduate and former lecturer in personal training, has sealed deals with more than 500 care homes and delivered sessions to 15,000 elderly people. The company employs 26 contract-for-service staff in seven cities.

Since launch the company has generated revenues of £151,000 and expects turnover to hit £500,000 within the next 12 months. Receiving the award from Shell UK chairman Graham van’t Hoff, Allen said: “To do what we’ve done where we’ve had to move four times in a year [as the business expanded from Scarborough to Leeds, Bradford and Preston] wasn’t easy.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something I genuinely care about, and would definitely encourage others to do the same.”

Another finalist, Nithin Thomas, the 29-year-old founder of secure video data distribution software company SQR Systems, was named the winner of the innovation award.

The company, which has been trading for two years, has developed technology to deliver CCTV footage to tablets and smartphones in low coverage areas, an application suitable for use by emergency services responding to a call.

Bristol University graduate Thomas told Startups the company’s technology has other applications and clients he is unable to name publicly, but the software which is designed to secure critical data for national security and public safety, is gathering momentum.

The remaining six finalists were:

  • Dana Elemara, founder of Arganic, a supplier of organic argan oil, one of the rarest oils in the world. Elemara has secured an exclusive contract with one of the top producers in Morocco for the oil used in products such as anti-aging cosmetics and food.
  • Charlie Harry Francis, founder of Lick Me I’m Delicious, a liquid nitrogen ice cream creator. The company claims to have come up with the UK’s first portable liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour and plans to launch the world’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream buggy.
  • Jide Johnson-Babatunde, the entrepreneur behind of Aniboxx, a video animation production company. The company has already created animated videos used to explain concepts or share knowledge for the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), Google and MTV.
  • Jonathan May, the founder of Sponsorcraft, a crowdfunding platform for the education sector. The reward-based site taps into the established donation ethic among university alumni to help students secure funding for projects.
  • Jules Quinn, the Gateshead-based founder of *TeaShed, a design-led tea company. Quinn imports quality whole-leaf tea from Sri Lanka and supplies John Lewis, Fenwick, Heals and the V&A with her gift-like tea boxes and silk-style pyramid tea bags.
  • Sam Zawadzki, the creator of AdvancetoGO.com, an aggregator offering private landlords advertising on mainstream property websites for £49. The company, which launched last month, also offers landlords management software for free.

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