Awards night Tuesday 14th November Grosvenor House, London

The Plight of The Female Founder feature image

Entrepreneurship Focus – The Plight of the Female Founder

A McKinsey Global Institute Report found that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 ‘simply’ by advancing women’s equality. Our panel took some time to discuss this, exploring the gaping differences in funding for men vs. women, and how we might be able to overcome this...

Regardless of gender, all businesses require funding. And this is the unfortunate bit, we find ourselves in a situation in 2022 where there is a very clear funding gap between male founded and female founded businesses. Since 2017 as a demographic, female founders have only scooped up 1.3% of all VC funding in Europe. As the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards seek to encourage and empower entrepreneurs across the country. During this hour-long webinar we delve into questions around the challenges female founders face and what we can do to move forward in 2022 and beyond to encourage the shift in change.

The Panel

Jon Briggs

Jon Briggs - Chair

Broadcast Journalist  & Communications Consultant

Jon Briggs has been a broadcast journalist for the BBC and ITN for 35 years. His credits include anchoring BBC Radio 5’s Breakfast News show, reporting for BBC Radio 4’s current affairs programmes, and chairing London’s top weekly political discussion programme for LBC.

Jon is a highly experienced international conference moderator, having hosted over 400 international events for many of the world’s largest companies, from Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover to IBM, Pernod Ricard, Vodafone, Hewlett Packard and Ericsson. He is an experienced interviewer – having grilled everyone from Bill Clinton, Jack Welch and John Major to Buzz Aldrin, Sir Richard Branson and Alan Greenspan.

Jon is also one of the best-known commercial voices in the UK. Recognised as the original Voice of Apple’s iPhone assistant Siri in the UK and the voice of the BBC’s Weakest Link quiz show. He owned and ran one of the UK’s top talent agencies – Excellent Talent - representing 200 of the UK’s top artists for 25 years until 2020.

Jon has a vast amount of experience in all modes of spoken presentation, live and recorded. He has coached a large number of Fortune 500 C-Suite executives to enhance their public communications skills. He trains, speaks and lectures on the power of the human voice, and why you should and could use it better than you do. In 2019 he chaired the judges panel for the English Speaking Union’s International Public Speaking Competition. 

Sophie Isaacs

Origination Manager, LDC

Sophie is responsible for identifying ambitious business owners and management teams that would benefit from private equity investment to accelerate growth.

Having joined LDC in 2022, Sophie is based in Leeds and works with businesses across the Yorkshire region. Prior to LDC, Sophie spent three years in the investment team of growth capital investor BGF.

Sophie began her career with seven years at Deloitte, spending time working in both their London and Leeds offices. Here she qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked as a corporate finance advisor in their M&A team.

Sophie also holds a degree in Economics from Durham University.

Sophie Isaacs
Tracy Lewis

Tracy Lewis

Former international CEO of Wacoal

After a successful career in retail with Next, Mothercare and Marks & Spencer, Tracy joined lingerie business Eveden in 2003. She devised and led a highly successful brand (Fantasie/Freya/Elomi) and international expansion, culminating in a trade sale to Japanese lingerie giant Wacoal in 2012. Following this success, Tracy’s achievements were acknowledged both nationally and regionally by EY as a recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year awards and by the BVCA as CEO of the year.

The following four years saw Tracy continuing to head up the autonomous Wacoal Europe division, expanding the reach of the UK designed portfolio, launching the brand design of Wacoal lingerie for the western consumer, and becoming a female spokesperson for the business across the East.

Since 2016, Tracy has focused both on developing her cross-sector NED career and investing in and mentoring female led and impact businesses. She currently holds board positions at Altro Plc, Bluebella lingerie, B2W Group and TS4U. She is also a Co-Founder/investor of Loop Cashmere, an online luxury cashmere brand, with sustainability at its core, which launched in 2020.

Alex Robson

CEO & Founder, West End Drinks

Alex Robson is co-founder and CEO of West End Drinks, a truly independent spirits company.

Since the company launched ‘The King of Soho’ spirit brand in 2013, it has gone international, into profit and seen exponential organic growth. Alex has graced the cover of both New Business and Just Entrepreneurs magazines.

An active supporter of talent in industry and in the creatives, during the last 4 years she has been a judge for both the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards and the Business Champion Awards. She was the inaugural sponsor of the Comedy Women in Print Awards Published Prize, created by award winning comedian and author Helen Lederer. This year she has launched the Queen of Soho forum to encourage and support entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

Alex Robson

Originally from the North East of England, she comes from a long line of female entrepreneurs and her upbringing instilled commerce and business knowledge from an early age.

Alex graduated in Economic and Social History at Bristol University and after a brief flirtation with the City, decided that a more adventurous and less conventional route was for her. This decision took her on a diverse and international career path which has included shipping in Russia, supply chain management in Holland and working on space projects for David Scott, Commander of Apollo 15.
Around about 9 years ago Alex’s entrepreneurial eye led to her spotting the potential for a renewed appetite for gin and a gap in the market for a high-quality and beautifully designed spirit. The decision to start her own premium gin brand was sparked by an epiphany over a classic gin martini with co-founder of West End Drinks and business partner Howard Raymond. Out of this ‘The King of Soho’ was born.

“Soho is about fun, gin is about fun – it seemed logical to us at the time.”

Sarah Austin profile meet the team

Sarah Austin

Director & Founder, The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards

Sarah Austin is a leading voice of the awards & events industry. Sarah’s new venture includes the launch of The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards.

In partnership with Lloyds Bank, these awards are the UK’s most prestigious business awards ceremony with a rigorous judging programme and a series of networking opportunities across the year.

In addition to this, Sarah is a Non-Exec Director at the Tate Galleries and also sits on the Tate Modern Advisory Council, which allows her to advise their events team on sales, delivery and execution strategies whilst being surrounded by incredible priceless artwork.