Belfast Mum Named Belfast Business Idea Winner

Sarah McKegney, a busy mum of three, has been crowned this year's Belfast Business Idea winner for her innovative range of plastic-free hair and skincare products for children.

Sarah pitched her Percy and Pop concept to judges at the finalists' night, held on Tuesday 20 June, and received a £2,500 cash injection and support package worth over £3,000 to enable her to take her idea forward.

The Belfast Business Idea competition, organised by Belfast City Council, and supported by Danske Bank, Pacem, the Open University and the Innovation Factory, helps unearth, recognise and fast track the best business ideas in Belfast.

Sarah was one of five winning concepts selected by an independent panel of judges to pitch their ideas to an audience at yesterday's event.

Sarah explained how she came up with the concept for her own range of solid shampoo and conditioners, after she was unable to find natural, plastic-free alternatives for bathtime with her three young children, all aged under five. Her pitch was selected as the overall winner, following an audience vote.

Sarah said: "I am delighted to win this award. All of the finalists were outstanding, so it's a real honour to have been chosen as the winner.

"This package of support will be invaluable in developing the next stage of our journey and we are really excited to see where we can take Percy and Pop, with the help and advice from a trusted support network. This initiative is a lifeline to budding entrepreneurs and a fantastic opportunity to springboard our business and we can't wait to take our bathroom revolution to the next level!"

Sarah was presented with the award by Councillor Ron McDowell, Deputy Chair of Belfast City Council's City Growth and Regeneration Committee.

"Congratulations to Sarah on successfully showcasing her Percy and Pop concept within such a competitive field," said Cllr McDowell.

"Taking the first steps to get your business off the ground isn't easy but, as a council, we want to do what we can to encourage more entrepreneurs and small businesses to come forward, and support them with the tools and knowledge needed to make their venture a success and create jobs and opportunities for others.

"The Belfast Business Idea Award is a testament to the real depth of talent we have within our city – well done to all those who took part."

The four other business ideas chosen by the competition judges will also receive a support package worth over £3,000. They were:

• Ankit Goel – PropAI

• Ciara Doherty and Sinead Molloy – Shevron

• Maebh Reynolds – GoPlugable

• Ryan Forde – Medical AI Systems (MAIS)

All five aspiring entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to hear from, and put questions to, Belfast-born businessman Alan Mahon, founder of Brewgooder, the UK's fastest growing beer brand in 2022, who provided them with inspiration and advice on taking their business journeys forward.

For more information on free support provided by Belfast City Council for new and small businesses, visit belfastcity.gov.uk/startabusiness

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