Big Venture Challenge: Looking Back to the 2012 Winners

For several years this was the official website for the Big Venture Challenge, a national programme, run by UnLtd and supported by the Big Lottery Fund, to find 25 of the most ambitious social entrepreneurs in England. The 25 winners all needed investment so that their enterprises could deliver a social impact on a significant scale.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages.

Amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, UnLtd is still finding, funding, and supporting, social entrepreneurs. Their priority is to ensure that everyone they are currently supporting and investing in makes it through this crisis. Fortunately tUnLtd understands that social entrepreneurs may both want and need to do things differently as they adapt to a new reality. Consequently they are flexing their support to make this possible, whilst continuing to provide one-to-one coaching, mentorship and training. Many social entrepreneurs are slipping through the cracks on the Covid-19 business policies set out by Government, because the policies are not designed with social entrepreneurs' specific needs in mind.


Read this: Recently my cousin (who was an award winner several years ago and still lives in London) and I were discussing the current support offered by UnLtd to social entrepreneurs such as himself. Although UnLtd's offices had to close due to Covid 19, they continued their support via continue one to one telephone calls, emails and online communications.

My cousin's work is small in comparison to such well known social entrepreneurs as TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, Jeffery Hollender of the cleaning, paper, and personal care products company Seventh Generation, or Mohammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, an institution that provides microcredit loans to those in need to help them develop financial self-sufficiency, but his work with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who struggling to integrate and access employment has made a difference where in lives. Covid 19 has complicated his work, but he, like many others are adapting.

The fact of the matter is Covid 19 has impacted everywhere including Melbourne where I live. Unlike many of my friends, however, I didn't need to adapt to working from home and holding virtual meetings via Zoom or Facetime. As a freelance graphics designer I have always worked from home. I am working with one of my clients in collaboration with their professional SEO consultant to create ads for Pinterest and Facebook. Media specialists are more important than ever with many brands vying for visibility on the social media platforms. My client, inspired by Jeffery Hollender of Seventh Generation, is a social enterprise supporting refugees and asylum seekers here in the Australia by selling artisan fresh bread and other foods. They provide jobs, work experience, training and mentoring for refugees and asylum seekers both through their local farmers market stalls and through their online e-commerce platform.

It's been a tough 18 months. Melbourne has had a number of lockdowns to contain the pandemic including, according to a number of news outlets, the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns that shuttered businesses and confined us, residents, to our homes for more than three months. That was in 2020. It was such a relief when the shut down ended. I have to admit that I, like Red Stag, where I play online pokies. However, every Thursday I check out the upcoming weekly promos at They are an affiliate casino site that has a special page for Aussie player. If you are interested you can view more information there.

Oi! A friend just texted me that the government is extending the most recent (June 2021) lock down in Melbourne until June 10, while some restrictions are being relaxed in other regions in the state. Why? There was a small outbreak here. It turns out that contact tracers linked the newest cases of Covid of the highly infectious Delta virus variant to an overseas traveller who entered hotel quarantine in Melbourne on May 8. I'm thankful the Australian government is so vigilant, but these shut downs are really rough even though a lot of us have been vaccinated. I think I'm going to take a break and play some pokies instead of bemoaning the lock down extension!

My cousin and I ended our conversation with the knowledge that Covid 19 vaccines would soon be available. It appears that the UK will start rolling out their two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech SE, before the US. The first people are to receive it across the U.K. the following week. I hope the US will shortly follow. However I doubt I will be receiving it for another 6 - 8 months. But this is great news and hopefully a game changer.


Big Venture Challenge is a national competition to find the most ambitious social entrepreneurs in England. The competition is now closed - we have selected our cohort.

The winners of Big Venture Challenge receive an initial £25K grant and the chance to access up to £150K of seed funding if matched by loans or equity from co-investors, plus first class business support and mentoring designed to keep pace with high growth social entrepreneurs. 

These social entrepreneurs have vision, talent and determination. In other words, they are:

  • people with big ideas to transform disadvantaged communities across England
  • people who have got what it takes to build credible ventures
  • people who have the ambition to scale up impact fast

The Programme

Big Venture Challenge

Big Venture Challenge is a national programme to support 25 ambitious entrepreneurs in England who want investment to deliver social impact at scale (the competition is now closed to applicants). Based on our experience of working with social entrepreneurs since 2003, we have designed a unique package of financial and non-financial support to help the 25 achieve their goals.

What do the winners get?

We know that it takes support, access to the right contacts and flexible finance to grow a business. So we have designed the Big Venture Challenge with that intent, combining financial and non-financial support to help the 25 winners succeed.

Financial Support:
The 25 Big Venture Challenge Award Winners receive:

  • an initial £25K grant
  • the chance to apply for a £50K grant if you can match this with £50K loan / equity investment
  • the chance to apply for a £100K grant if you can match this with £100K loan / equity investment

Non-financial support:
Each of the selected 25 has access to an intensive programme of non-financial support including:

  • A dedicated Ventures Advisor to help you tailor your one-to-one support programme 
  • Access to a pro bono lawyer
  • Access to a pro bono financial specialist
  • Access to a pro bono mentor who will be a successful high growth entrepreneur
  • Access to a PR team
  • Bootcamps on relevant topics (eg. leadership, building a team, sales & marketing)
  • Access to a network of Super Connectors to help you build wider relationships

This is also a great opportunity to be part of a network of other Big Venture Challenge winners.


Big Venture Challenge presents the Winning Entrepreneurs


About Us

UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs and offers the largest such network in the world. We resource over 1,000 individuals each year through our core Awards programmes which impact many tens of thousands more. We operate a unique model by investing directly in the individual and provide a package of resources; from funding to ongoing advice, networking and practical support.

The UnLtd Ventures team focuses on providing early-stage seed finance and support to the most ambitious social entrepreneurs to scale up their ventures. Over the last year, UnLtd Ventures has worked with 50 social entrepreneurs and enabled them to leverage over £3 million in additional investment into their ventures. 

We have a core team plus a diverse network of specialists who we bring in to work with social entrepreneurs depending on your needs. We have experience from the third sector, corporate business, SMEs and the City, combined with a desire to change the way business is done:  for good. We also have UnLtd Connect that brings together experienced professionals able to offer pro-bono support to individuals growing a social venture. UnLtd Connect provided pro bono services worth over £600k in the last year alone. 

Find out more about UnLtd Ventures

About People Powered Change

Big Venture Challenge is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is part of the People Powered Change platform to encourage and accelerate new approaches to help build upon the great community-led action already underway across England.

Through ‘People Powered Change’ BIG will provide support, information and tools to release the talents of individuals and community groups, to improve and strengthen their neighbourhoods.


Big Venture Challenge Presents the Winning Entrepreneurs


Aileen McDonnell : B4Box Ltd

Aileen McDonnell : B4Box Ltd

B4box is a construction company which guarantees that 80% of the workforce is recruited from people on benefits, local to the work.

What is B4Box Ltd all about?
B4box is a construction company delivering standard construction services. Mainly house repair/renovation and refurbishment to excellent price, quality and time standards. The company guarantee that 80% of the workforce is recruited from people on benefits, local to the work. Once recruited, they are trained to a high standard. The building work is primarily from public contracts and the clients choose B4box because they guarantee to assist with the local economy by employing unemployed residents. B4box expects and achieves productivity from day one. The trainees include people distant from the labour market- women, disabled people, ex-offenders and older workers.

What is the social impact? B4’s model addresses resident unemployment, use of local supply chains, and "home grows" future repair and construction skills for the local area. B4Box guarantees that all staff on their construction sites will live within a 5-mile radius of the site. This promotes local pride, a sense of ownership, low theft, low vandalism, and low Carbon. To date all B4 trainees have permanent employment. Every pound spent on Construction with B4box produces 2-8 pounds additional economic benefit.

What are the future plans?
There is a skills shortage of 750,000 in the construction Industry, and over 2.5million people unemployed in the UK. Many major public contracts do not employ or train local labour; meaning funds, which could help local regeneration, are taken away to more affluent areas. B4Box intend to refine their business, to create a transferrable template, and a national model. Demand for B4box is coming from Local Authorities, Housing Providers and large construction companies.

Amra Dautovic : MyTime

Amra Dautovic : MyTime

My Time CIC is an award winning enterprise that provides accessible talking therapies and mental health services.

What is MyTime all about? My Time CIC is an award winning brand of accessible talking therapies and mental health services that is to launch the first counselling social franchise in the UK. My Time hopes to grow its brand through franchising its model to other counsellors and therapists who share the same values and social mission, and thereby creating a consistent pathway to free and culturally appropriate talking therapies.

What are the future plans?
My Time employed a franchise consultant in 2008 to undertake a feasibility study on the potential market for a franchise. My Time launched the franchise within the franchise market as part of the feasibility study and received over 200 enquiries. It was decided to develop the franchise model of the next 2 years and build the infrastructure needed. My Time intends to establish15 social franchises throughout the UK in 5 years but with an overall aimed target of 25.

What is the social impact? Engaged with 58 children through 41 families (37 BAME) onto a family therapy program: 4 families that were homeless accessed stable housing 15 fathers undertook parenting program that improved their interaction with their children. 5 families experiencing domestic violence evidenced that father’s behavior had improved and no further incidences reported 80% of clients no longer felt unhappy after final session of counseling 80% of clients felt more positive about the future 100% of clients no longer felt that tension and anxiety prevented them from doing things Five service users and volunteers have won regional and national NIACE learners of the year.

Annabel McMahon : Rackety's Ltd

Annabel McMahon : Rackety's Ltd

Rackety’s is a branded range of high street quality clothing designed for disabled children and adults.

What is Rackety's all about? Rackety’s is a branded range of high street quality clothing designed for disabled children and adults.The clothing is all designed to help with specific problems but blend in with the customers regular clothing.

What is the social impact? Most “Mobility stores” look depressing and dated, this is the public face of disability. Families who live with disability describe it as a parallel universe, as their needs are seldom understood. Rackety’s plan to become the Mothercare equivalent of disability, with vibrant high street standards and a clear message that shows those with no connection with disability a more realistic and modern face. This is an opportunity to improve the life of those who live with disability by offering high street standard clothing and products to suit their requirements that make them look and feel the same as everyone else.

What are the future plans?
Rackety’s want to become the Mothercare equivalent for families who live with disability, the products available are so scattered and difficult to find, we want to make life easier for the families who live with disabilities.We plan to extend the range from clothing to include feeding, incontinence, safety and leisure products for disabled children and their families. We have new websites in Scandinavia and USA and are planning an Australiasian site next with experienced partners to run each site. We also have a contract for a trial with the MOD for a highly specialised garment.

Chris Gourlay : Spacehive Ltd

Chris Gourlay : Spacehive Ltd

Spacehive is an online funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects

What is Spacehive all about?
Spacehive is an online funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects, which makes it as easy for communities to buy a new park or playground as buying a track on iTunes. The aim is to put communities in the driving seat of neighbourhood planning. Spacehive achieves this by providing a tool that gives communities collective financial clout to deliver popular projects independently of councils.

What is the social impact?
- Boost civic participation in planning and sense of ownership of public space
- Offset spending cuts (which are set to halve spending on public space projects from 2011) by tapping private sector investment.
- Make planning system accessible and transparent

What are the future plans?
The scale of impending cuts presents a unique opportunity for Spacehive to scale rapidly so that it is in a position to help communities revive popular local projects - and initiate brand new ones. To achieve this we will rapidly expand our team of project coordinators, invest in on-going improvements to the website and marketing.

Chris Tully : Ripplez CIC

Chris Tully : Ripplez CIC

Ripplez CIC is an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise which delivers Family Nurse Partnership, a home visiting programme for vulnerable first-time mothers.

What is Ripplez all about?
Ripplez CIC is an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise commissioned by the NHS to deliver Family Nurse Partnership (FNP). FNP is an evidence-based programme for vulnerable first time mothers. It offers intensive and structured home visiting, delivered by specially trained nurses, from early pregnancy until the child is two years old.

What is the social impact?
The mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable young parents and their children creating positive changes in health behaviour, relationships, parental role and maternal well-being. The programme achieves community benefits by improving pregnancy outcomes, child health development and future school readiness and achievement, and parents’ economic self-sufficiency.

What the future plans?
Part of our marketing plan and strategy for the next five years would be to target these three areas for Family Nurse Partnership:

Derby City: To ensure the commissioners have the knowledge about the successes and evidence base for this early intervention programme and to expand the service in Derby City over the next 5 years and recruit 2 Family Nurses each year. Then to be able to offer the service to at least 80% of young parents (181 births a year of young parents 18 and under);

Funding: To explore alternate funding sources to resource more family nurses.

Expansion: To expand our sites of operation to develop FNP in neighbouring areas using a knowledge transfer approach.(we have already gained our first contract in neighbouring Derbyshire and will be able to reach another 150 young parents over 3 years). For this we would develop a marketing package for site development.

 Daniel  Snell & Emily Shenton: Arrival Education

Daniel Snell & Emily Shenton: Arrival Education

Arrival Education runs talent development programmes for young people from challenging backgrounds, to transform their prospects in work and life.

What is Arrival Education (AE) all about?
AE has designed and built a ground-breaking 4-year talent development/social change programme, called Success for Life, which develops young people, from challenging backgrounds, in the real skills, knowledge, personal attributes and ways of thinking needed to be highly successful in work and in life. Through the programme students develop the qualities and abilities that will enable them to compete with those who have been to the top fee-paying schools. S4L is delivered in partnership with some of the UK’s leading businesses who see the value in delivering combined CSR/L&D that develops their own people in the skills and attributes needed to be exceptional leaders.

What is the social impact?
Success for Life produces substantial increases in attendance and academic results (typically 2 grade improvement at GCSE, with only one 2 hour session on academics). Students have turned from being at risk of exclusion to becoming star performers at school. All students stay on in education post-16. Because of the selection process for the programme (where AE looks for the most influential young people in the community) the programme impacts beyond those directly involved.

What are the future plans?
AE plans to continue building in London whilst also rolling out to other major urban cities in England.

Emma Morris : Beyond Youth

Emma Morris : Beyond Youth

Beyond Youth deliver intensive group-based interventions through their Chance 2 Change programme for young offenders and those at risk of offending aged 14-25

Emma-Jane Cross : CyberMentors

CyberMentors is an online peer and professional mentoring and support service for young people aged 11-18 who are facing bullying and child-on-child violence.

What is CyberMentors all about?
CyberMentors is an online peer and professional mentoring and support service for young people aged 11-18 who are facing bullying and child-on-child violence. It uses innovative online technology to deliver support to young people in distress in real time and on demand. CyberMentors is at a time where investment would allow for significant expansion into targeted regions of the UK where bullying and child on child violence presents a real issue.

What is the social impact?
CyberMentors significantly reduces bullying, anti-social behaviour, truancy and exclusions in schools running the programme. It improves the wellbeing and confidence of young people and improves overall school life. In particular: -Bullying is reduced by an average of 41% in participating schools -Exclusions have been reduced by a third -88% of schools report a positive improvement in school life

What are the future plans?
CyberMentors is looking to expand the impact of its interventions on a national scale. Working in targeted areas of the UK where bullying and child-on-child violence is a significant problem, the service will be sold into schools and youth settings. By scaling up our sales programme we will be able to deliver consistent growth and demonstrate social return on investment to all our investors and partners. There is a total available market of 10,936 buyers for CyberMentors; we currently own 3.1% of the market, demonstrating significant opportunity for expansion through the right level of investment.

Jayne Hulbert & Jayne Creswell : The SWEET Project

Jayne Hulbert & Jayne Creswell : The SWEET Project

The SWEET Project provides social work student placements to universities, working to support families in need.

Jon Cousins : Moodscope

Jon Cousins : Moodscope

Moodscope is an online tool which enables people to measure, track and share their daily mood to help overcome depression and other mental health problems.

June O'Sullivan : The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

June O'Sullivan : The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

LEYF provides high quality, affordable childcare for London’s families, especially in areas of high deprivation.

Lance Haggith : Sports Traider

Lance Haggith : Sports Traider

Sports Traider sell donated sportswear and equipment at discount prices to provide sporting and employment opportunities to young people.

Maryam Zonouzi: Coalition for Independent Living

Maryam Zonouzi: MySupport Broker

MySupport Broker is the national leader in peer-to-peer brokerage training and services for independent living.

What is the MySupport Broker all about?
MySupport Broker is the national leader in peer-to-peer brokerage training and services for independent living. We train and accredit disabled and older people to be professional peer brokers to help others like themselves to plan, find and manage their healthcare and support services funded either through state or personal finances. We do this through a social franchise model to achieve national scale and sound financial returns, underpinned by our own innovative technology.

What is the social impact?
Our social impact is easily measured by the numbers of disabled people who move from welfare to work and the number of disabled and older people who move from organisations managing their lives to be self managing and self determining. To date 25% of people we train become self employed brokers and 100% self direct their support and care.

What are the future plans?
Our first targets in our growth plan are User Led Organisations as franchisees as they have national coverage with one in every local authority area are in the market for new businesses as grant culture no longer sustainable. By 2014 we aim to have 20 franchises, projected gross profit margins 40%; 100 FTE working brokers; 3000 older and disabled people help to self manage per annum.

Michael May

Mick May : Blue Sky Development & Regeneration

Blue Sky is a social enterprise working in the grounds maintenance and recycling sector, solely employing ex-offenders.

Mohammad Al-Ubaydli : Patients Know Best

Mohammad Al-Ubaydli : Patients Know Best

Patients Know Best created the world’s first patient-controlled medical records system to raise quality, lower NHS costs, and put patients in control of their health.

What is Patients Know Best all about?
Patients Know Best (PKB) created the world’s first patient-controlled medical records system. It is used by clinicians at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UCL Hospital, St Mark’s Hospital, Torbay Hospital and other institutions with patients across the UK. It is also powering medical research funded by pharmaceutical companies like Novartis. By using the software, the NHS lowers costs, raises quality and puts patients in control of their health.

What is the social impact?
PKB put patients in control of their records. When they do so, the patients improve the quality of the records – finding and fixing the many errors in all medical records – and they save the NHS money – by eliminating unnecessary appointments, admissions and treatments. And fundamentally, they become empowered: looking after their own health and leading independent lives.

What are the future plans?
PKB want to put 1 million patients in control of their records over the next 3 years. Having proven the benefits in local pilots we are expanding to national deployments and international pilots. The clinical support staff are increasing in number as are the management team, and as part of this have sponsored the Women in the City’s Woman of Achievement Award

Neil Basil : Patient Choice

Patient Choice provides information to people affected by stoma surgery on their bowel or bladder, enabling them to make their own choices about their own care.


Patrick Shine & Simon McNeil Ritchie: Franchising Works

Patrick Shine & Simon McNeil Ritchie: Franchising Works

FranchisingWorks is a social enterprise that tackles unemployment by helping the workless create new businesses and jobs through franchising.

Christine Anderson: Star Enterprise Work and Play

Ruth Parrott: Star Enterprise Work and Play

Star Enterprise Work and Play runs nightclubs for people with learning disabilities that are safe and inclusive.

What is Star Enterprise Work and Play all about?
Star Enterprise Work and Play runs nightclubs for people with learning disabilities that are safe and inclusive, under the Under the Stars brand. The nightclubs provide an opportunity for people to socialise and develop their skills and confidence so that they can meet new challenges in their lives, and to raise awareness in the wider community. The organisation also runs training and workshops under its Reach 4 the Stars arm.

What is the social impact?
The organisation want to address the issue of hate crime and bullying resulting from poor awareness around learning disabilities and social exclusion. Increased work and leisure opportunities are the key to a more integrated and fulfilling life where people meet new friends and develop a natural circle of support. Stronger communities and less isolation lead to increased confidence in tackling hate crime and bullying.

What are the future plans?
They plan to expand the Under the Stars workshops and Reach 4 the Stars workshops into other areas of the UK.

Shaun Doran : Bulky Bob's

Shaun Doran : Bulky Bob's

Bulky Bob’s is a bulky waste collection, reuse and recycling service which also provides routes out of unemployment.

What is Bulky Bob's all about?
The commercial heart of Bulky Bob’s is a bulky waste collection, reuse and recycling service. We operate local authority contracts and the items collected from householders are predominantly redundant furniture/appliances. Bulky Bob’s maximises reuse/recycling to prevent good quality items being landfilled. Bulky Bob’s operates prison refurbishment workshops in which prisoners undertake meaningful employment and training. Bulky Bob’s Furniture World is the high street store selling great quality ‘pre-loved’ furniture/appliances. Furniture World is not a typical second-hand shop but a good quality retail environment where people get fantastic value for money. Throughout the business, trainees are employed on salaried training programmes which see 80% going into work.

What is the social impact?
Bulky Bob’s creates social impact in many ways – linked by our charitable aims of making a positive change for people living in poverty and unemployment:

- Trainees – previously unemployed people on training programmes
- Work placement participants – unemployed people with little/no work experience, people with disabilities or ex-offenders
- Furniture World customers receiving discounts – people receiving benefits, pensioners, support agency referrals
- People in crisis referred to Bulky Bob’s Furniture World for free furniture
- Social support agencies – referring people for work placements or access crisis furniture support
- Prisons where we provide training workshops for offenders serving custodial sentences

What are the future plans?
Bulky Bob’s future plans are to gain more local authority contracts which will in turn enable the growth of social impact. Each new council contract creates increased opportunity to employ long term unemployed people on training contracts, provide work placements , create prison workshops and give access to great quality preloved furniture to low income families.

Sheraz Arif : Squease

Sheraz Arif : Squease

Squease is a therapeutic garment that helps inpiduals with autism better deal with anxiety

Tom Storey : REDS10 Training

Tom Storey : REDS10 Training

REDS10 supports unemployed inpiduals into long-term sustainable careers, while also addressing skills gaps on local construction projects.

What is REDS10 Trading all about?
REDS10 support Local Authorities, Developers and Contractors in meeting local labour/apprenticeship targets on construction projects. Our innovative approach identifies skills gaps across a region, designs training which meets that need and employs locally sourced workers for two years. A focus for us is especially on the long-term unemployed, many of whom we also support on a full apprenticeship programme and keep them employed during the two-year apprenticeship period. We are delivering this programme by aligning activity and funding which already exists, meaning this programme can be delivered at no cost to the local authority.

What is the social impact?
REDS10 makes interventions that can effect a profound and lasting change in people’s lives. Delivering a mechanism to address long-term unemployment, we want to drive a paradigm shift to the way in which training, apprenticeships and long-term unemployment are tackled in this country. Our ambition is to change the way hundreds of thousands are trapped in low-pay no-pay cycles or dead-end jobs. We want to see a changed landscape, where apprentices are plentiful and thriving, and where we are no longer importing skilled migrant labour when local people are unemployed and unskilled.

What are the future plans?
In Tom's own words: "Our goal is to have placed over 1000 candidates into sustained employment by the end of 2012. To achieve this we will operate in London, within 16 London Boroughs (we are currently working in 11) and in 3 other regions within the UK. By 2013 we aim to support 2,081 unemployed people into sustainable construction employment. To achieve this we will be operating in London, within 20 London Boroughs and in 7 other regions within the UK. We intend to grow organically and build from our London base and then open regional offices and take on additional staff as required."

Will Akerman : MyKindaCrowd


Will Akerman : MyKindaCrowd

MyKindaCrowd encourages students to submit ideas to companies' real-life challenges, to connect them to the world of work, society and their future.

Zoe Peden : MyChoicePad

Zoe Peden : MyChoicePad

MyChoicePad is an educational iPad app that uses symbols and signs with speech to enable choice and communication for children and adults with learning or communication difficulties. What is MyChoicePad all about?
Insane Logic have created MyChoicePad. This is an educational iPad app that uses symbols and signs with speech to enable choice and communication for  children and adults with learning or communication difficulties. We are working with families, schools and speech and language professionals to make sure everyone is able to access and build their communication skills. MyChoice Pad uses symbols and signs from the Makaton Language Programme ( and is available on the iTunes Appstore. MyChoicePad Lite is a free iPad taster version for people to try out.

Who are the people involved?
Zoe Peden, Chief Juggler - Until July 2010 I was a senior manager at The Makaton Charity responsible for product management of the language programme. Prior to that I spent 10 years in educational publishing in product development and project management. I am fascinated by technology, gadgets and their potential to disrupt the EdTech marketplace, creating affordable and effective solutions.

What are the future plans?
We currently only sell in the UK Appstore and we are interested in rolling out a French and German version. We are starting to provide training services for schools around integrating MyChoicePad with their curriculum subjects and there is potential for communication based games and activities and also a web platform service.



What is the Big Venture Challenge?

The Big Venture Challenge is a national competition run by UnLtd to find the most ambitious social entrepreneurs in England: people with big ideas who can build successful ventures to deliver social impact. The 25 winners of the Big Venture Challenge get an initial £25K grant plus the opportunity to pitch for up to £150K of further match funding. In addition the winners also get access to first class business support, networks and mentoring designed to keep pace with the fastest growing social ventures.

We also aim to strengthen the social investment market by using the Big Venture Challenge to attract new social investors to the market and provide access to seed finance for ambitious, scalable social ventures.

What do you mean by “scalable/scaling up”?

Scaling up may be taken as another word for growth although it is generally understood that scaling up takes place on a large and rapid scale and requires strategic external investment – as opposed to steady, organic growth using the company's own profits to build the business at a slower rate. Please see our case studies section for some examples of organisations that have scaled successfully.

What do you mean by “investment”?

In order to grow to scale rapidly, ventures normally require money to pay for extra capacity; for example, to increase production, sales, etc. For the purposes of the Big Venture Challenge we define investment as loan, equity or quasi-equity and not grant.

Can I apply for a Big Venture Challenge Award?

No, not currently. The 25 winners have been selected.

What types of finance counts as match funding? Can it be grant, for example?

In order to be eligible to apply for the further rounds of match funding of £50K or £100K from the Big Venture Challenge, you need to have evidence of match co-investment.

This co-investment must not be:

  • grant funding
  • your own money or that of friends or family
  • an asset backed loan such as a mortgage

The rationale for the Big Venture Challenge is to stimulate the seed investment market for social ventures by attracting new investors into the sector. The Big Venture Challenge is not an alternative source of cheap money. If we think that a venture is able to source investment on the open market without our support, we would propose that they are not the right candidate for this programme. However, if the Big Venture Challenge match funding and business support can leverage in new investment that would not otherwise happen, we would see this as a useful way for us to add value.

What is the difference between UnLtd Level 2 Awards and the Big Venture Challenge?

Level 2 Awards are for social entrepreneurs who have piloted their venture and are now ready to develop a growth strategy.

Big Venture Challenge is for social entrepreneurs who have already developed an ambitious growth strategy and are ready to implement that strategy to scale up at a rapid pace. Big Venture Challenge is aimed at start-ups with high potential that can demonstrate viable plans for growth as well as more established ventures that want to expand.

The key difference is that the Big Venture Challenge Award Winners need to be ready to implement rapid growth.

I think I am eligible for a Level 2 Award, but not for Big Venture Challenge – what is available to me?

The UnLtd Level 2 competition will open again in Autumn 2011.

Will there be future rounds of Big Venture Challenge and, if so, will I be able to apply again if unsuccessful this time?

This is the first time the Big Venture Challenge has run. There are currently no plans to run future rounds; however, should the programme prove successful that may change.

If a second programme does begin in the future all unsuccessful applicants will be able to apply.

I still have further queries – is there anyone I can ask for further clarification?

You can call UnLtd on 0207 566 1110 and ask for the UnLtd Ventures team or email