University of Sheffield graduate wins young entrepreneur award

Faye Savory
Faye Savory
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An entrepreneur who has been supported by the University of Sheffield’s Enterprise Centre (USE) has marked two years in with business with a national award and a move to bigger premises.

University of Sheffield graduate Faye Savory, who is the founder of BearHugs, a growing online company which offers personalised ‘hug in a box’ gift hampers, has been awarded a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award.

The accolade coincides with a period of growth for BearHugs which has recruited two members of staff and moved into larger premises in the WorkStation in Sheffield.

The idea for Bear Hugs came after Faye, who studied Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Sheffield, was diagnosed with Lyme Disease at the age of just 23, leaving her unable to leave the house and continue her job as a Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist.

Receiving a thoughtful gift in the post from a friend inspired her business idea of sending ‘hugs in boxes’, and in 2015 BearHugs was launched.

Faye initially used the University of Sheffield’s Enterprise Centre’s co-working space before moving to the Workstation in Sheffield. She still receives support from the University team’s start-up coaches.

Speaking about the award, Faye said: “I was absolutely over the moon to win, especially as the competition was so stiff.

“I also got the chance to speak to the Duke of York who was really interested in the work I want to do to support people with chronic illness.

“BearHugs is going from strength to strength and I’m really grateful to USE for the support it has given me to help my business get to this stage.”

All University of Sheffield students and graduates, no matter when they left the University, can benefit from the services offered by USE to make their entrepreneurial ideas happen.

Business coaching, advice, seed funding and free office space are just some of the services available to help individuals get their business off of the ground.

Early stage tech startup, Tutora, co-founded by University of Sheffield graduate Scott Woodley, also received support from USE and started off in its workspace before expanding and moving out to bigger premises.

The company, has recently taken on more staff and invested in research and development.

Darren Chouings, a USE start-up coach specialising in social enterprise, said: “We are really proud of Faye’s success and it’s wonderful to see. She has worked incredibly hard in a short space of time to make BearHugs such a successful business.”

Bear Hugs has grown rapidly since its launch selling 1,000 boxes in the first year and 5,000 in the second year.

The company recently appointed two new customer service representatives who join Faye and her work experience placement and volunteer to make a team of five. Based on her own experience Faye is also planning to create flexible part time working opportunities for people who are ill or housebound.

The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award, is presented to individuals who have displayed remarkable entrepreneurship whilst at University. The honour follows Bear Hugs being named a finalist in the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards earlier in the year and this month the company was named in the semi-finals of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award which will be announced later this month (June 2017).