Teacake, trainers and dancers go head-to-head for the final time as we seek out the winner of The Journal’s If We Can You Can Challenge.
Casey Lam, of TopHat Teacakes, Louise Doyle, Carole Loader and Neil Donkin, of Mesma, and student duo Galina Jewitt and Jessica Hebron, of AIM Dance Group, were picked by judges to go forward to the final of the challenge, run by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, after being selected in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch event.
Scientist Casey Lam learned to bake the perfect teacake through the internet, having been inspired to launch TopHat Teacakes after watching a bake-off on television.
The Durham University chemist, 26, used her research skills to come up with the perfect treat, which uses the best of British organic products.
“There are a lot of established cupcake businesses but teacakes are going to be the next big trend and I am already there,” said Lam, who currently bakes 240 a day at her Gateshead flat.
“I am really pleased with the product, which I have ensured is of the highest quality, and I don’t see why they could not be marketed globally.”
Meanwhile, Louise Doyle, Carole Loader and Neil Donkin were colleagues in the learning and skills sector before launching Mesma in Team Valley, Gateshead, a year ago.
They already have more than 20 independent training provider clients nationally for their new product, and later this year Mesma software will be made available to primary schools in the region, designed to help training providers complete self-assessment – a requirement of the Ofsted common inspection framework.
On reaching the final, Doyle said: “It reinforces our belief in our business and what we are aiming to achieve as it is the first time we have shared our proposition with other very experienced business people in any level of detail.”
Jessica Hebron, 24, and Galina Jewitt, 20 – the third finalists – launched AIM Dance Group to give young people the chance to try dance and build their confidence and self esteem, and they already have a loyal following of boys and girls, aged two to 12, who are learning a variety of dance styles from street to ballet, skills which they are showcasing to growing audiences.
After using the scout hall in Rowlands Gill as a base they are now hoping to secure their own studio in Dunston to continue their work with children in socially deprived areas.
Jewitt added: “Winning would make a huge difference to us and the children and we would be able to expand to help more young dancers.”
The three finalists are now hoping Journal readers will vote for them to be crowned If We Can, You Can winners and take a prize worth at least £17,000 in investment, mentoring and professional advice from Forum partners Rivers Capital, Yorkshire Bank, Onyx Group, Ward Hadaway and PwC.
Votes cast by readers online before the closing date at midnight on Sunday, August 4, will be collated with the panellists’ votes to identify the winner. To vote visit www.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk