AXA announces Startup Angel competition winners

14 July 2021

Posted in Partnerships

  • AXA’s Startup Angels have selected two winning startups to help kick-start their business journeys.
  • Each startup will receive £25,000 of funding, AXA business insurance cover as well as mentoring and support from the three Startup Angels.
  • The Association of Black Event Professionals and BOLDmen have both been selected following the elevator pitch competition.
  • The competition is part of AXA’s wider ‘Work Hard, Insure Easy’ advertising campaign.

AXA has today announced the two winners of its nationwide Startup Angel competition which helps businesses kick-start their journeys. The competition is part of AXA’s commitment to supporting small businesses by pairing them with successful entrepreneurs who will provide mentorship.

The ‘elevator pitch’ competition, which was promoted across Global’s radio stations Capital, Heart and Radio X, called on startups across the UK to pitch their ideas to the AXA Startup Angels, for a chance to turn their business aspirations into reality. The winners have been whittled down by AXA’s three Startup Angels: entrepreneur and founder of Holly Tucker; Raphael Sofoluke, D&I Champion and founder of UK Black Business Show; and Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, founders of vegan recipe brand Bosh!.

The winners will each receive £25,000 of funding, AXA business insurance cover as well as mentoring and support from the three Startup Angels. According to the ONS, around 80% of UK companies fail within their first year, which is why AXA is supporting startups throughout their journey towards success.

The Association of Black Event Professionals, co-founded by Aaron Raybe and Nadu Placca, is one of the winners and aims to create a safe space for black professionals in the events industry to network and engage in training and development. The association is a product of the Black in The Boardroom report, created by Nadu’s events company The Zoo XYZ. The report, launching this month, found a lack of representation of black people in senior leadership positions within the events industry and was the inspiration for launching the association. Aaron and Nadu hope that the association will act as a single voice to reflect and take care of the needs of black professionals in the events industry.

Aaron Raybe, Chair of the Association of Black Event Professionals

“Winning the AXA Startup Angel competition is absolutely huge for us because it enables us to now begin work. We’ve got a programme of activities that we need to get under the skin of to create the services which will serve the needs of our members. And from a marketing perspective people will now know that we are coming and that we’ll be there to serve their needs and in turn serve the industry. As a team we’re feeling so excited at the prospect of making this a reality.”

Aaron Raybe, Chair of the Association of Black Event Professionals

Men’s skincare brand BOLDmen has also been selected by the Startup Angels and will offer specifically tailored products to men who have lost their hair, shaved their head or are thinking about doing so. Ben Elderkin-Shute founded the brand after losing his hair, and now wants to create a skincare product which transforms how men feel about themselves.

Ben Elderkin-Shute, Founder of BOLDmen

“I want to create a range of products for men that will make them feel empowered. So that’s where BOLDmen comes in. Winning this competition means so many things. Knowing how I felt a year ago, just how self-conscious and insecure I was, compared to how I feel now, and knowing that I’m in a position where I can create a product that can hopefully help guys in that situation to feel like I do – that’s just brilliant.”

Ben Elderkin-Shute, Founder of BOLDmen

“Congratulations to these two very worthy winners. We were really impressed by their pitches and we’re delighted to be able to help them on their journey to success by supporting them during that challenging first 12 months. Small businesses have a critical role to play in driving our economy and that is why we are passionate about helping startups turn their business dreams into reality.”

Gordon Rutherford, Marketing & Customer Experience Director, AXA Commercial (Direct)

The competition is part of the wider AXA ‘Work Hard, Insure Easy’ campaign created in collaboration with Publicis Groupe Power of One team; media by Starcom and creative by Fallon, part of Leo Burnett. The campaign also further supports AXA’s ‘Know You Can’ brand message.

Follow the AXA Startup Angel winners on their journey to becoming successful startup businesses on AXA’s Business Guardian Angel hub, or follow us @axainsurance for regular updates.