Two military service leavers who set up their own business in the North East have been named Start-Up Business of the Year.
Entrepreneurs Lee Simpson and Stuart Allan joined forces following their Army careers to launch a business together during the pandemic, and have quickly turned it into a major success, with a £3million annual turnover.
The pair spotted a gap in the market for a full-service property development company, delivering projects from beginning-to-end for investors and organisations with the cash to invest, but not the time or expertise to make their plans a reality.
Drawing on their extensive skills built up during their military careers, Lee and Stuart founded Peterlee-based Team Evolve in 2020, and have already delivered dozens of development projects, with many more in the pipeline.
Current projects include turning a farm near Whitby into a glamping hotspot; converting a run-down period property into modern student accomodation in Sunderland; and transforming a disused commercial building in Hartlepool into local authority housing for vulnerable tenants.
Having already won the North East regional final of FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards earlier this year, Stuart and Lee have now beaten off competition from area winners across the UK to take the national title of Start-Up Business of the Year.
FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards is the most high-profile event of its kind nationally, with more than 3,000 entries, and showcases the best of small business entrepreneurship in every part of the UK.
Stuart Allan said: “Building Team Evolve from scratch, particularly during the challenges of Covid disruption, has been incredibly rewarding, and we are proud to have already delivered so many projects.
“Being recognised by FSB as UK Start-Up Business of the Year is an incredible honour, and makes us all the more pleased and proud that we took the plunge to start our own business and turn our skills and experience gained in the military into a pioneering enterprise.”
FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “It is wonderful to see how Lee and Stuart have built and developed their business so strongly and rapidly during an extremely challenging economic period.
“Small businesses and the self-employed are the drivers of innovation and growth, and the success of Team Evolve is a perfect illustration of how important small business entrepreneurs are to the economy both in the North East and nationally.
“It is also testament to how military service leavers can be extremely well suited to the rigours and discipline of starting and running a successful business. This is something FSB has long championed, not least through our partnership with X-Forces Enterprise.”