Posted: Wed 25th Oct 2017
A former Olympic hopeful, who set up a digital marketing training programme to help women get back to work, has been crowned Enterprise Nation Female Start-Up of the Year.
Judges voted unanimously that Joy Foster, a former competitive archer who runs social enterprise TechPixies, should be the winner of the live pitching session supported by Facebook She Means Business at the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs in Bristol.
Three female-founded firms and Enterprise Nation members presented their business in front of the 300-strong audience and took questions from the panel.
TechPixies started in 2015 when Foster, who is married to legendary British Olympic rower Tim Foster, realised she could help women, who had taken a career break, by teaching them digital marketing skills and get them swiftly back to work.
Since then the firm has re-trained 46 women with a 100% return rate. It has a target to help 1,500 women by 2022.
"It was amazing to be amongst so many women who have the ambition to run and build businesses and create employment for other women," Foster said. "Winning this award has meant a lot to us as a team.
"We work hard and have tried to win other awards but have so far only managed to come second so this award felt really good!
"Mel Bound from This Mum Runs, who won last year, said the award made all the difference to her business. We think it's going to do the same for us. We're really delighted and want to make the most of the opportunity this award offers.
"It was ridiculously scary pitching at such a massively inspiring event, but winning was amazing. I'm so proud of my team and what we have achieved. If you're helping other people, it's easy to find the energy to keep going."
Foster's team of eight women were all unemployed before they joined.
In the pitching, Foster was up against fellow Enterprise Nation members Rebecca Linnell, who runs a hotel for dogs called The Country Dog Hotel near Taunton and Sarah Stenhouse, the founder of Instagram content generation firm, Pixey.
Mike Jackson, entrepreneur, investor, head of scale-ups at Shaw & Co and competition judge, said: "All three pitches came from determined entrepreneurs who had identified a gap in the market and built a scaleable solution to address the unmet need.
"Joy stood out through the quality and clarity of her pitch backed up by the passion she showed for the company mission and the hugely beneficial effect it was clearly having on the women being retrained for the new economy."
Also judging the competition was Helen Smyth, head of SMB community engagement at Facebook; Mel Bound, founder of This Mum Runs and Female Start-up of the Year 2016; Sharron Gunn, executive director at ICAEW; Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur's Godmother and Carolyn Radford, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mansfield Town FC.
Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones added: "We've been overwhelmed with the amazing women running businesses at this year's event.
"Joy is a great example of someone who set up her business out of passion, and determination to help others. Digital retraining is important in helping women take that first step back into employment with confidence. We wish her social enterprise big success."
The competition's prizes include £500 worth of Facebook advertising credit, a Treatwell voucher from Direct Line for Business, advice from ICAEW, a cycling top signed by the most successful female British Olympian, Laura Kenny from HSBC and quarterly business mentoring from KMPG.
"I love the Laura Kenny signed cycling shirt. I'm training for an Ironman so it means a lot!," Foster said.
![Joy Foster Female Start-Up of the Year 2017](https://enterprisenation.blob.core.windows.net/enterprisenation/staging/blog/system/images/W1siZiIsIjIwMTcvMTAvMjUvMTAvMTYvMDIvNTEzM2ViNTAtZWFhNS00NjM1LTg0ZjEtYTMxOTY5M2JjZDI2L1RlY2hQaXhpZXMgd2l0aCBqdWRnZXMucG5nIl1d/TechPixies with judges.png)