Catching up with the ones to watch

The Courvoisier Future 500 list is finalised

Last Thursday Growing Business had dinner with the ‘One to Watch’ winners and judges of the Courvoisier Future 500. The luxury drinks brand has partnered with The Observer to uncover 500 ‘leaders of tomorrow’, who have now formed a network of some of the most influential figures in the country.

The winners have an exclusive log-in to the site – the idea being that they now have access to like-minded, ambitious people to bounce ideas off. After meeting the One to Watch winners of the scheme’s 10 categories, it’s clear that together they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

At the extravagantly decadent Gilgamesh bar we were lucky enough to get up close and personal with several of them, including 32-year-old Ryan Notz, who scooped the One to Watch title in the business category, which Growing Business oversaw.

Notz’s business,, is an online marketplace for tradesmen. A stonemason by trade, he launched the site in an attempt to thwart the damage done to the industry by cowboy builders, by creating a space where consumers can post jobs, tradesmen can bid for them and can then be held accountable for their work via a protected feedback mechanism. Notz takes a 5% success fee when a tradesman wins a job.

“The first step was just proving that people want to use something like this,” Notz told us. “People told me this would never work because builders don’t use the internet, and I’m like, well I am one and all the tradesmen that I know do, we’re not like cavemen, so it was really interesting and exciting to prove that people wanted to use it.”

We also shared a cognac or two with 24-year-old Rupert Loman, who won the media category. Loman started his site Eurogamer when he was just 16 as an online community for fellow ‘hardcore gamers’. Advertisers flocked. Loman now runs the site as a publisher and social network for gamers (he hires 21 staff in editorial, admin and sales and tech support roles) which he is replicating in different languages to create a strong European gaming network.

Other winners included Paul Hawkins, who came up trumps in the sport and entertainment category, for his famous Hawk Eye technology which is used at Wimbledon and currently being tested for use in Premiership football matches. ( Charlie Paton, MD of Seawater Greenhouse (, won the science and innovation group for inventing a low-cost solution to growing crops in arid countries. The full list of 500 can be found at

Are you one of the Courvoisier Future 500? Or if not, should you have been? Are you shaking up your sector and sculpting the business landscape? Have you developed technology that will revolutionise your industry or does your business tackle a serious social problem? Tell us about your business below…

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