Ben scooped a £10,000 business grant from Alibaba.com, the world’s leading online marketplace for small and medium businesses, which was presented by Dragon’s Den star and chairman of Enterprise UK, Peter Jones CBE at a celebration lunch for the challenge finalists today at London’s Royal Exchange.
The contest began in October ’09 with seven finalists, selected from hundreds of entries from across the UK, being challenged to build a business from a £1000 budget provided by Alibaba.com and sourcing goods through trading partnerships forged via the company’s online platform. The competitive trading period closed at the end of January ’10 and today’s winner was decided by public vote.
Peter, who met all seven Global Startup Challenge finalists today was impressed with the wealth of talent he encountered. “In order to achieve success in business, entrepreneurs must be hardworking, enthusiastic, creative and driven. Ben has proven he clearly has all of these qualities and I wish him every success in developing his business further.”
“I have always been passionate about nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit. From my experiences as an investor and through launching my own National Enterprise Academy in 2009, I have been hugely encouraged by the quality of entrepreneur our country is capable of producing. If small business-focused organisations like Alibaba.com can continue to foster these talents I have no doubt that entrepreneurs in the UK will have a bright business future to look forward to.”
Ben said “This has been a fantastic experience – I never imagined I would be crowned the winner! Huge thanks to those who voted for me and to Alibaba.com for giving me the opportunity to bring my idea to life and of course, for the business grant too. Getting the chance to meet Peter has been the icing on the cake. I’m really excited about building the business in the coming months.”
Maggie Choo, director, EMEA, Alibaba.com, said: “We want everyone in the UK to have the opportunity to start and grow their own business. We have been delighted by the achievements of our contestants, all of whom are well positioned to start running successful businesses via Alibaba.com.
A keen martial arts instructor, Ben‘s business idea to develop a contemporary boxing brand featuring unique, stylish and distinctive punch bags and gloves, came to him during a tough training session in the gym.
His ‘Queensbury 12’ range is divided into three collections: ‘Martial Artworks’, featuring the bold panoramic photography popular in contemporary interior design, ‘Exercise Your Demons’, punchbags to provide motivation to exercise by beating fears, phobias and cravings with pop-art images of cupcakes and spiders and the exclusive ‘Butcher’s Bag’, a carcass-shaped punch bag inspired by the story of Rocky Balboa.
Ben also received a glowing endorsement for his contemporary boxing brand by securing his first order from Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business.
Lord Davies ordered a ‘New York New York’ punchbag from the ‘Martial Artworks’ Collection after meeting the entrepreneur at an Alibaba.com event, held at the British Library in November 2009.