AXA Startup Angel: Helping entrepreneurs make their business dreams a reality

Win £25,000 startup funding to kick-start your business.

What is AXA Startup Angel?

We created the AXA Startup Angel competition to give UK entrepreneurs a chance to turn their business dreams into a reality. When you’re first starting out, the best advice you can get comes from those who have been in your shoes. That’s why we’re proud to be running AXA Startup Angel again for the 4th year.

In partnership with the Evening Standard, we’re offering a variety of incredible prizes and first-class mentoring to 6 of the most promising up and coming businesses from across the UK.

Entries for AXA Startup Angel 2023 are now closed, so keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming winner’s announcement.

Our two top prize winners will receive:

  • £25,000 funding to launch your idea or take your business to the next level
  • Business insurance for a year thanks to AXA
  • Dedicated mentoring from the AXA Startup Angels

Our four runners up will receive:

  • A profile for your business on the Evening Standard website
  • A dedicated article produced by Evening Standard featured in print, digital, social, the SME XPO newsletter and across our new online community
  • Mentoring from the Evening Standard team on digital branding, marketing and social media
  • An invite to an exclusive roundtable networking event
  • VIP access to SME XPO 2025
  • Total value of the runners up prize estimated to be over £18,000

Entries for this year’s competition may be closed, but things don’t stop there

If you’re interested in finding out more about the future of AXA Startup Angel or you’re considering entering your business in next year’s competition, you can use the sign up form below to register your interest.

All you have to do is give us a few quick details and we’ll be in touch next year to let you know when entries open.

What does Startup Angel mean to AXA?

At AXA we give businesses the confidence to thrive, today and tomorrow. We started AXA Startup Angel in 2021 to do just that – make a difference to UK’s entrepreneurs by being a helping hand they can rely on.

The most successful businesses have a clear sense of purpose and direction, so we wanted to make sure with AXA Startup Angel that we’re helping business build a bright future. That’s why we’re giving them not only the funds to get started, but the invaluable support of our Startup Angels.

Meet the Startup Angels

This year we’re bringing back four of the UK’s most inspiring entrepreneurs to judge our entries

Sharmadean Reid MBE

Founder and CEO, The Stack World

Sharmadean champions women in business and is an avid supporter of female entrepreneurs. She launched The Stack World in 2021, to help create economic and social empowerment for women through technology and media

Here’s what she had to say about being part of Startup Angel:

“Being an AXA Angel to me means paying it forward and giving back to entrepreneurs who need support on their journey.”

Henry Firth

Co-founder & CEO, BOSH!

Henry is the co-founder of BOSH! and is dedicated to showing the world just how easy it can be to be vegan. Along with business partner Ian Theasby – another one of the AXA Startup Angels – the pair launched BOSH! from their living room in 2016 with only £15,000. Fast forward to now, and they have best-selling cookbooks, a range of cooking kits in UK supermarkets and millions of loyal social media followers to their name.

Henry is keen to help our 2024 winners reach their full potential, saying:

“You’ve got nothing to lose – you’ve got everything to gain – and this could be that moment that you turn your dream into reality.”

Ian Theasby

Co-founder & CEO, BOSH!

It was only a few years ago that Ian, co-founder of BOSH!, and his business partner Henry were in the same position as many of our 2024 applicants. But it was his experiences prior to starting out on their BOSH! journey that led him to agree to be an AXA Startup Angel judge. He said:

“We were in the position as many applicants are in a few years ago, where we had an idea, and we had a dream to build the business.”

Raphael Sofoluke

Founder of the UK Black Business Show and UK Black Business Week

Raphael’s passion is in diversity and inclusion in all its forms. That why he founded the UK Black Business Show – the biggest business show in the UK and Europe for black business owners and professionals. His aim is to inspire and connect black business professionals. To anyone consider entering, he said:

“It’s an opportunity to change your life. You don’t become successful by sitting on your ideas. Take that leap of faith and gamble on your dream.”

What are our previous AXA Startup Angel winners up to?

Our 2023 winners – Intotum and Sistren – each received our top prize of £25,000 in startup funding to help support their business, as well as mentoring advice from our expert Angels and business insurance for a year thanks to AXA. Read on to find out more about their businesses, and what they’ve been up to since winning.

Hanan Tantush

Founder, Intotum

Hanan was one of our 2023 AXA Startup Angel winners, wowing the judges with her idea for Intotum - a clothing brand for people with disabilities that creates functional, stylish clothing that can work with your disability through hidden functions.

We caught up with Hanan to see what she had been up to since winning AXA Startup Angel. Here's some advice she had for anyone thinking about entering.

"If you have an idea, it doesn't matter what stage it’s at. If you're on the fence, absolutely apply! There's so many barriers to being a small business, but there are support networks out there like AXA Startup Angel that can make that difference."

Want to learn more about what Hanan has been up to with Intotum since winning?

Read our winner's catch up with Hanan to find out more.

Olivia Hylton

Founder, Sistren

Olivia was our second top prize winner in 2023 with Sistren, which helps Black women to create community and friendship with one another, sharing advice and support to thrive in their daily lives.

When we caught up with Olivia to see what she had been working in in the last year, here's what she had to say to fellow business owners.

"A competition like AXA Startup Angel is so important is because usually competition entries require a lot from you. Startup Angel is a much more accessible entry point, especially for founders who may need that initial support to get their idea off the ground!"

Want to learn more about what Olivia has been up to with Sistren since winning?

Read our winner's catch up with Olivia to find out more.

What are our previous winners up to?

This is the AXA Startup Angel competition’s fourth year, so why not take a moment to see what our previous winners have been up to?

2021 winners

2022 winners

  • Free Mental Health option when you take out business healthcare cover*
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