Published: July 7, 2021 | Updated: July 8, 2021

Five of the best! Hopefuls through to regional finals of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards

Jessica Wicks (Ross), shortlisted as Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Five entrepreneurs from Dorset are through to the South West finals of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

They’re among 118 entrepreneurs from 88 businesses shortlisted across 16 categories.

One will also be named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year for the region.

The Dorset finalists are:

  • Disruptor of the Year and Scale-Up Entrepreneur of the Year:  Cas Paton, OnBuy
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: Steve Witt and Paul Harrison, Not Just Travel and The Travel Franchise
  • Fashion and Beauty Entrepreneur of the Year: Olli Smith, Solus
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Jessica Wicks (Ross)

Cas Paton, the Founder and CEO of OnBuy – described as the fastest growing company on the south coast –  said he was “elated” at being named a finalist in two categories.

He added: “To be recognised for the growth that we’ve created, the impact that we are making and personally called out as a flourishing entrepreneur, is an amazing achievement that I am very proud of.

“No matter what happens, being nominated is already a fantastic recognition.”

Steve Witt and Paul Harrison said: “This year hasn’t been easy for anyone and we have worked hard to ensure we always lead by example, from the front, pushing innovation and driving the business forward.

“At a time when the travel industry has been struggling, our sales have remained strong, and we have continued to invest in the company and our teams.

“We are already in the process of doubling the size of our HQ team this year in order to bring in four new business sections which will drive sales and provide an even better experience for our clients.

“We are delighted to be shortlisted and we dedicate this to our amazing travel consultants who provide an incredible service.”

Jessica, 30, who is also known as Jessica Ross using her soon-to-be-married name, started her freelance marketing and copywriting business in May 2020.

She said: “It’s a great honour to be shortlisted for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, especially after such a challenging year for everyone.

“I’m passionate about inspiring businesses to do better and this all starts by helping them to understand how they can grow.”

Olli, 23, created his clothing brand, Solus, in 2013.

However, it only really took off in May 2020 when he launched the website and began to create a proper brand for Solus as a standalone clothing line.

Olli said: “I’m so pleased to have been recognised by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards for my work in sustainable fashion.

“I found out that I had been shortlisted the day that I left my university city (Cardiff) which was really uplifting to see after such a hectic final year.

“I’m very excited to see what’s next for Solus as I push on with my plans now that I have graduated!”

This year’s Great British Entrepreneur Awards received 4,800 entries.

The South West awards ceremony is expected to be held in September.