Innocent co-founder offers £1m business boost


London entrepreneur Richard Reed, who co-founded Innocent Smoothies, is offering a £1m boost for the next wave of promising business ideas.

The businessman is fronting a new show for BBC3 called Be Your Own Boss, which is promising to invest in the best business minds that Britain has to offer.

When Reed was trying to find funding for the Innocent Smoothies brand with co-founders Adam Balon and Jon Wright in the late 1990s, they faced a seemingly impossible struggle – until they found one man who believed in their idea.

Since then, Innocent Smoothies has become a huge brand with a turnover of more than £100m a year.

Now Reed is looking to turn the tables and pass on the baton to the next batch of promising businesspeople, by giving them much-needed investment.

He said: “Setting up and running Innocent with my friends has been a life-enhancing adventure.

“That’s why I’m excited to be part of this new series giving others the chance to have the same experience, starting their own business and setting them up to become successful entrepreneurs.”

The top 500 applicants will make it on to the show, where they will all be given £100 and challenged to turn it into as much profit as possible.

They will then be given the chance to showcase their efforts at an expo, before finding out if they have done enough to progress to the latter stages of the competition.

As the show progresses, the financial investment and difficulty of the tasks gradually increases, until Reed is finally tasked with deciding whether the candidates deserve a life-changing sum of money.

Penny Ward, director of the Young Entrepreneur Society (YES), which has close links with Innocent co-founder Balon, explained how shows like Be Your Own Boss can be a great influence on young people.

“Any show of this nature is a massive boost to business as it shows what is possible and also raises awareness that starting a business is an option in today’s difficult climate,” she said.

“It gives the audience a sense of positivity instead of all the doom and gloom.”

YES, which was set up by Ward’s daughter, Carly, three years ago when she was 19, offers a network of support and guidance for budding entrepreneurs throughout the country.

Ward described how her daughter found herself in the same position that most of the BBC3 show’s candidates are likely to be in, before she decided to take action.

She said: “As far as being your own boss, that’s exactly what my daughter wanted to be when she left college and was unemployed on jobseeker’s allowance.

“She said ‘forget about this’, I’m starting my own business. The Young Entrepreneur’s Society was her business. And it’s now more like our business now because it’s expanded too large for her to run on her own.”

People looking to follow in the footsteps of Reed and Ward can apply for the BBC3 show here: https://couldyoubeyourownboss.apply.twofour.co.uk/