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Shell pledges £1,000 if you’ve got a great idea

The Mail on Sunday

JANUARY 18 2009

By NIC PATON

FOR budding entrepreneurs without a credit history, rising capital from the banks can be particularly challenging. 

But a scheme launched last week by Shell aims to help 16 to 30-year-olds get their businesses off the ground.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant will offer five £1,000 cash awards each month this year to young entrepreneurs. The winners will also be able to enter its Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, worth £10,000.

While £1,000 may not seem a lot, it can make all the difference for a start-up, according to Tom Mursell, 19, who launched his careers advice website notgoingtouni.com with £1,000 in savings six months ago.

The Southampton-based careers website for school and college leavers has since picked up £12,000 from an investor and more than £7,000 in sponsorship deals.

He says: ‘I got my funding through a post on an online business forum. It works like a shop front, but it is much cheaper.’  

Securing a Shell award could also open doors to the banks. Shell UK chairman James Smith says: ‘The money represents a vote of confidence in your idea, which could encourage banks to help too.’  

Shell Young Entrepreneur of 2005 Jamie Murray Wells founded his website Glasses Direct with £1,000 of his student loan in 2004. The firm, based in Baker Street, central London, now turns over £4.5 million.

‘The prize money was great, but the real benefit was getting the Shell brand behind the business,’ he says.

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