Case Study - Wales Start-up Awards 2017



Wales Start-up Awards 2017


350 people from the start-up community across Wales


Depot Cardiff


To recognise the outstanding achievements of start-up’s in the Welsh economy.


Grapevine Event Management


New businesses are the lifeblood of any growing economy. They create innovation, vitality and, most importantly, jobs in local communities. Grapevine Event Management Director Liz Brookes and Professor Dylan Jones-Evans OBE from University of South Wales, founded the first ever Wales Start-up Awards in 2016 after spotting a gap in the market for an award ceremony purely for Start-up companies in Wales.


To organise an award ceremony away from the norm. Moving away from the traditional black tie approach to business awards and to hold the event in an informal setting at the award-winning Depot in Cardiff, an entrepreneurial start-up business where street food and craft beer from Welsh enterprise is served to those attending. The venue is a large warehouse that is a totally flexible space. By using the creative skills of the team at the Depot we created a theatre style area for the wards and relaxed dining and networking area for pre and post awards. 

Before the Awards

With Natwest confirmed at the headline sponsor for the second year the awards were launched in April. Sponsors from all types of industries and locations around Wales came were found. Each encouraged to promote the awards to their networks. 
A strong marketing campaign was created using social media to launch the awards and to encourage companies to enter the free awards. The deadline for entries was chosen as 30 June and we received over 200 entries.  The shortlist was decided by the Headline sponsors and the Chair of judges. 

Once the shortlist was decided interviews were arranged for all the shortlisted companies. 63 interviews were carried out over 3 days, mostly face- to face with the panel of judges but also skype and phone.

As well as arranging the interviews, tickets were being purchased, logos collated and the programme book written! Street vendors were booked, photobooths were sourced and scripts written. Not forgetting deciding the set design and order of the awards to make sure they had the most impact. 

On the Night

The format of the night was a drinks reception on arrival, all guests were given a ticket to get them food and drink from the various street food vendors trading.  The awards were due to start at 8.30pm and hosted by Sian Lloyd who had already done a technical run through before the guests arrived. The awards took just over an hour - 22 awards and then it was back to the bar to celebrate the wins and to do some serious networking to some background cheesy tunes.


A successful, unique event where over 50 start-up businesses were celebrated for their contribution to the Welsh economy. Overall winner, Katie Hayward from Felinhoneybees gave a heartfelt speech when accepting the Wales Start-Up of the Year 2017 award, saying; “Entrepreneurs are Wales”. On the night, the Awards were trending on Twitter in Wales and post awards there has been media coverage in WalesOnline, BusinessNewsWales and the North Wales Daily Post. 

WSUA winners

The Future

It will be interesting to see where the 55 companies will be in the next 12 months and as for the Awards themselves, we have already booked the venue for next year and had interest for sponsorship so watch this space!


“The early stages of starting a business require resilience to overcome the constant setbacks and pain. These awards are important to us as a reward for the founder’s sacrifice to date. It’s no guarantee of eventual success, but a nomination, and recognition, sure makes those late nights and early mornings feel a little more worthwhile.”

Gareth Jones
CEO, Welsh ICE


"The awards have shown us yet again the importance of the start-up sector to the Welsh economy. We received entries from across Wales and each one of this year's winners serves as a case study that other aspiring entrepreneurs can seek seek to emulate."

Liz Brookes
Founder, Wales Start-up Awards & Director, Grapevine Event Management

(L-R) Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, overall winner Katie Hayward of Felinhoneybees, Founders Liz Brookes and Prof Dylan Jones-Evans OBE

(L-R) Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, overall winner Katie Hayward of Felinhoneybees, Founders Liz Brookes and Prof Dylan Jones-Evans OBE

To find out more information on the Awards and all the winners, click here.