A Conisbrough entrepreneur who was forced to learn how to walk again following a major accident at work is celebrating success after winning two awards at a special event which showcased the achievements of new entrepreneurs based within the Sheffield City Region.
Andrew Ashworth was crowned the winner of the Inspiring Achiever award and the Launchpad Champion 2018 at the first ever Launchpad Awards, organised by the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme. Andrew impressed both judges and fellow entrepreneurs with the success he’s achieved with his unique business IGO Pets, which provides animal lovers throughout South Yorkshire with products to pamper their pooches and hosts special pet parties in the unique pet café.
Andrew has built his business supporting South Yorkshire’s discerning dog owners and fanatical feline lovers behind the doors of his unusual pet shop, where he sells a wide range of pet friendly products including animal friendly beer and ‘Pawsecco’, as well as more than 4,000 products via his company website www.ashworthspets.co.uk
As he learned to take his first steps in business, Andrew has also spent the past six years pushing his body to the limit after suffering a serious injury at work which left him wheelchair bound and unable to walk or care for himself.
Supported by his wife Rhowena, Andrew decided to invest his last £180 in developing his business idea – a journey which began selling a small number of products via car boot sales and markets, to securing premises to develop Conisbrough’s first dedicated pet café.
To help build and develop his business ideas, Andrew called upon help from the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme; a unique business support programme which provides new entrepreneurs with the vital support needed to build and develop their business ideas.
Working with a business advisor, Andrew began developing his HR knowledge in preparation for employing his first members of staff, learning social media skills, financial forecasting and employment and legal advice. Just five months after launching IGO Pets, Andrew’s achievements were recognised at the first ever Launchpad Awards, which celebrated the success of some of the Sheffield City Region’s newest entrepreneurs. On the night, he was named as Inspiring Entrepreneur of the Year and was also crowned as the first ever Launchpad Champion, an accolade which was determined by a live audience vote on the night of the awards.
In addition to building and running his successful business, Andrew has helped seven young adults to gain retail and animal management qualifications by offering work placements at his store. He also has future plans to provide disabled children with the chance to gain qualifications in his café and pet shop and is also planning to open a sensory room and disabled facilities later this year. However, the help he received from the emergency services at the time of his accident is never far from his mind and he provides on duty emergency services staff with free drinks from his café.
Andrew Ashworth, IGO Pets, said: “I always had an interest in animal welfare and had dreams of providing a space where animal lovers could come together, enjoy a chat and allow their dogs to enjoy an animal friendly puppachino.
“A serious injury really makes you take stock of your life and it was then I decided to turn my love and interest of animal welfare into a business. I was left unable to do all the things I had taken for granted: I couldn’t walk, couldn’t look after myself and running a business was the last thing on my mind. It was a long road to recovery and during the six years I spent recovering the use of my legs it gave me a chance to think about what I wanted to achieve and as I started to improve, I began putting my plans into action.
“My wife entered me for the Launchpad Awards and I was only aware she’d done this when I found out that I’d been shortlisted. Winning the title of Inspiring Entrepreneur was a huge surprise and I’m not afraid to admit I was a little teary eyed when accepting my award! To win one award was a real achievement for me but to be named as Launchpad Champion too, as voted for by my peers, was tremendous and has given me so much confidence, aspiration and excitement for the future.”
Caroline Bond, Business Advisor, Launchpad said: “Andrew really is the epitome of triumph over adversity and he truly is a deserving winner of the Inspiring Achiever award and Launchpad Champion 2018. He is a humble and generous person who gives everything he can back to the local community to ensure disadvantaged children can experience the world of work and gain skills and experience to help them obtain a job in the future.
“In Doncaster, the Launchpad programme is delivered through the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce. The programme provides practical and knowledgeable help and support to entrepreneurs and start-up business owners throughout the Sheffield City Region.”
Launchpad is the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub’s key business support programme for new business. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years.
IGO Pets is also shortlisted for the Start-Up Business of the Year award at the Yorkshire and Humber FSB ‘Celebrating Small Business’ Awards.
For more information on the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk