Meet The Journal’s 35 under 35: the young entrepreneurs and leading professionals making a name for themselves in the North East.
From inventors and up-and-coming business founders to members of the younger generation taking family businesses to new levels, these are some of the faces to watch in the coming years.
The 35 come from all corners of the North East and have varied backgrounds. Some met at university and span off their businesses from their studies, other shunned higher education to go straight into the world of work.
There are high flyers in technology, retail and food, and exciting names in the worlds of law and marketing.
Compiling this list has not been easy and it is far from definitive.
But we hope it makes for an exciting snapshot of the talent bubbling under in our great region.
Hayley Gait-Golding divides her time between her home in Northumberland and London, where she runs the growing Bear snack company.
After taking the snack market by storm and winning contracts with most of the major supermarkets, she was named one of the Enterprising Young Brits of 2010, a Woman of the Future in 2011 and won the Natwest Everywoman award in 2012, while last year Bear was named Food and Drink brand of the year by industry bible The Grocer.
Brigitte West and Rose Brown
Newcastle University students Brigitte West and Rose Brown received backing from Santander for their cosmetics blog Beauty and the Geeks.
The blog uses their scientific knowledge to de-mystify the world of beauty products, and they are developing a range of courses to teach people more about the lotions and potions they are using.
Co-founders Brigitte and Rose now head a team of 22 staff and contributors.
Roland Glancy and Simon Barker
Roland Glancy and Simon Barker have won column inches, awards and high profile investment for their invention Radfan.
Roland invented the device – which increases the heat coming from radiators by circulating it into the room – while studying at Newcastle University. He met Simon at university, who has helped him to develop the business.
The pair have won the Santander Universities National Enterpreneurship Challenge and the Santander Incubation Award and now operate from a base in North Shields with investment from IP group and Rivers Capital Partners.
When Peter Hunt founded Fresh Element with Andy Ross with in 2004, their start-up catering company amounted to one small kitchen, one van and a passion for fresh, natural, locally sourced food.
Beginning life as a gourmet ready meal delivery service for busy professionals working around Newcastle Quayside. It soon expanded into corporate catering, dinner parties and weddings. Peter grew the business into a bespoke catering company renowned for food quality and service and now operates Six at The Baltic and Garden Kitchen in Newcastle’s Eldon Garden.
Set up as a digital agency catering for the post-PC world, Hedgehog Lab, which was established by Sarat and Mark Forster in 2006, has since grown into one of the UK’s leading enterprise app and digital product developers.
Employing 25 people in Newcastle, London and India, the business designs, develops and markets digital solutions for smartphones, tablets, kiosks, TVs and other post-PC platforms and devices for brands including Channel 4, Booths, RAC and News International. Recently, the company teamed up with TV chef Jamie Oliver’s production company, Fresh One, to create a mobile app that could accompany Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals book and TV series.
After graduating in Marketing Management and earning a Diploma in Marketing Communications at Northumbria University, Raman gained extensive marketing experience before setting up his own company.
Using a business model based on keeping overheads down to price competitively while offering a high quality service, his fast-growing business is now one of the top marketing firms in the region.
Managing the reputation of many well-respected entrepreneurs and brands, Ramarketing has picked up a number Gold CIPR awards and has featured in leading industry publications.
Originally from Ponteland, Rob first started honing his digital skills while undertaking an internet technology degree at Staffordshire University.
During a spell with fast-growing digital agency, Think, he recognised the immense possibilities within the sector and went on to found the Gateshead-based AYO with Tony Olanipekun and Kevin Reece.
The company - which sees itself as a manufacturer of business systems rather than simply a web development firm - has since grown rapidly, seeing Rob named Entrepreneurs’ Forum Entrepreneur of the Year 2013.
As a youngster, Jessica modelled for her mother’s business, Baggers Originals, which produced a range of children’s rainwear that folds conveniently into an inside pocket.
With the company now resurrected, Jessica has taken over as owner and has already secured a deal with global retailer Monsoon that will see the products stocked in 25 stores.
Jessica - who still works as a model and is married to international rugby player Mike McCarthy - also runs a business called Garbeau, producing made-to-measure shirts and suits for men. She has met with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street and was invited to speak at the Conservative Party Conference to showcase her start-up.
After leaving school at 16, Ben rejected the traditional higher education route in favour of teaching himself coding and web development while honing his marketing skills through his job as marketing manager with the Sandman Signature hotel group.
Working with South Tyneside business incubation company, HarperCo Limited, he is now bringing his talents together through his own business, Very Niche, which provides everything from web development to brand strategy consulting and brand management.
The firm is targeting £300,000 turnover next year, rising to £600,000 the year after.
Caroline originally trained to be a lawyer but after a short time as a paralegal she missed the buzz of sales that she got while working at the family business, estate agency Pattinson, which was set up by her father Keith Pattinson 35 years ago.
After spells with luxury travel firm Mr & Mrs Smith and an international microfinance agency, she returned to the family firm, drawing on experience she had gained working for businesses on a multinational level.
She has worked her way to the top and spent time in every department, from sales to national auctions, and in 18 of the 29 branches, and took over the reins as MD in November.
Throughout his career Ian has helped thousands of people across the North East of England and Scotland to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
As the former head of the Energy Assistance Scheme in Scotland, Ian joined British Gas in 2004 and has spent a number of years supporting vulnerable residents facing fuel poverty.
After taking on his role at one of the UK’s largest energy efficiency initiatives in January 2014, Ian now heads up the 45-strong Warm Up North team.
Tom Riley, Matthew Lloyd, Chris McPhillips
This trio showed entrepreneurial skills as playground pals growing up on Teesside, when they used to sell sweets to kids in break times.
Still firm friends, dentist Matthew, economics graduate Tom and business graduate Chris, set up Whitewash Laboratories in 2010 after spotting a gap in the growing dental supply and teeth-whitening market.
Since developing a unique range of teeth-whitening and oral care products they have grown the award-winning business to a £1m company exporting to more than 20 countries, with export sales now accounting for 35% of turnover.
Michael and Barry Ladhar
Brothers Michael and Barry have joined the family business established by Amarjit and Baldev Ladhar.
The firm operates leisure and healthcare divisions and Michael has spent 10 years in a managing role, currently focussing on the expansion of the group’s care divisions Crown Care.
Fellow group director Barry has had a managing role in the family business for 15 years and is currently expanding the group’s leisure division, spearheading the firm’s major investment into four Newcastle city centre bars over the last two years.
A real estate specialist lawyer, Alok has a wide range of expertise, and plays a leading role in Sintons’ nationally-regarded pharmacy, care and leisure teams, working on major transactions across the UK.
Alok was made a partner in 2012, becoming one of the youngest partners in a law firm in the North East and beyond.
He is heavily involved in the local business community, and was recently appointed to the development board of the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle.
After graduating with a degree in Film Production from the Bournemouth Arts Institute Joshua returned home to his native North East, mainly to be close to family.
An accomplished filmmaker, Joshua has already worked with major brands such as Tedx and Intu.
The 27 year-old originally considered pursuing a career in the film industry along the traditional route, starting as a runner and working his way up. He soon realised his true passion was in working with actors and directing, and realised starting his own business was vehicle to achieve that.
Alex Hurst is the managing director of Blyth-based Phoenix Taxis.
Under his leadership the firm has grown its fleet of electric vehicles from scratch to boast 22 cars - making Phoenix the largest sustainable taxi company in the UK.
Alex has grown the firm’s turnover from £1.6m to £3.8m in the three years he has been managing director.
He has also recently joined the board of Zero Carbon Futures - the not-for-profit organisation responsible for promoting and developing low carbon transport technology in the North East.
Iraa Kadcha and Adam Wimpenny
University of Sunderland graduates Iraa Kadchha and Adam Wimpenny formed RGB Media in 2011.
The pair have both gone on to win the likes of the Creative Industries Award at the Portfolio Business Awards. The firm specialises web design and marketing and last year expanded into new premises in Sunderland Software Centre.
Jules Quinn launched The *Teashed - a design-led brand of tea and teaware - when she was still at university.
The young entrepreneur struck a deal with Fenwick last year and now supplies more than 150 stores across the UK including every branch of John Lewis.
Named Young Businessperson Of The Year at the 2012 North East Business Executive of the Year awards, Jules studied fashion marketing at Northumbria University.
Fashion entrepreneur Alice Blackie sells over 2,000 dresses a day from her 30,000 sq ft site in Newcastle.
The founder of Pink Boutique estimates that turnover will reach eight figures in the next 12 months as she now sells to over 50 countries.
After noticing a gap in the market for glamorous party dresses, Miss Blackie started to sell through eBay in 2012 before setting up a website six months later.
Elliott Perry and Mark Stephenson
Eventsneaker co-founder Elliott Perry started his career as an undergraduate developer with Sage, while partner Mark Stephenson had a successful career in software.
Eventsneaker - a technology driven suite of online marketing tools for event professionals – has been sold to London-based evvnt, which has kept both men on board.
As chief executive officer of digital creative firm Leighton, Lyle McCalmont has overseen the firm’s elevation to third place in The Drum’s prestigious Digital Census, and secured its status as an Elite Agency.
He has risen through the ranks at Leighton, having started life there as a web developer in 2007.
He holds a degree in Computer Science from Teesside University and has previously worked for Hertel as a project manager.
Prolific entrepreneur Darren Williams has developed and sold five businesses already in his career to date.
He is perhaps best known for his co-founding and building of Seaham-based hair and beauty product suppliers Harland Corporation Ltd.
Darren has also been a rave event organiser and built pay-as-you-go web design company Full Effect Internet Ltd, which he sold to a private investor in 2009.
Managing director of Mediaworks, Brett Jacobson, won Young Business Executive of the Year 2011.
He founded the creative search and online marketing agency in 2007 and has since grown it to employ 80 people over two sites.
Brett graduated from Northumbria University in 2006 with a degree in Applied Computing.
Originally from Ireland, Alan moved to the North East as an undergraduate, fell in love with the region and discovered his vocation.
Known for his tenacity and passion for his work, he has turned the Barnard Castle-based Zine into one of the fastest-growing digital media agencies in the UK, with dozens of franchises and an international presence.
He also delivers seminars around the world and is a regular presenter at Google Campus.
Dan’s entrepreneurial path began in 2005 when, as a globetrotting professional poker player, he spotted an opportunity in the burgeoning online gambling industry.
His first venture, Crown Bingo, was one of the earliest established online bingo sites and continues to thrive today.
In just two years, he has built the Newcastle-based Bede Gaming into a major software employer in the region, with 110 staff and additional offices in London and Sofia.
Identifying an opportunity to diversify his farming business into the supply of high quality horse feed, Ralph initially supplied two products to the North East market.
After a successful start, he has since grown the business significantly so the eight products he now provides cater for every type of horse and pony.
The Silvermoor range is available through a national network of over 200 retailers.
Sara was in the second year of her management degree at York University when she combined her passion for paper crafts with amazing business acumen started Crafter’s Companion in 2005, in her university bedroom.
Jump forward nine years and the firm is a multi-million pound business which designs, manufactures and supplies craft-related paper products to enthusiasts across the world.
The firm turned over £7.7m in 2013 and has operations in County Durham and California and a European sales network. In between running the firm Sara, now 30, is a regular face on TV shopping channels in the UK, Europe and the US and gives inspiring talks to other university students to encourage them to follow her lead.
We are led to believe that Byker-born Ms Fernandez-Versini (nee Tweedy and formerly Cheryl Cole) is an entertainer of some sort.
But if anyone doubts her business brain, consider the way she has developed Brand Cheryl from talent show contestant through girl group, cosmetics advertising, talent show judge and author.
She also has her own brand of perfume and an estimated worth of more than £15m – nice work if you can get it.