Baldwins Accountants’ second KickStart Young Entrepreneurs Awards will be held on Thursday 20th November, when the three businesses that have been shortlisted will compete to win a £10,000 grant along with £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice from the company. Baldwins Accountants is one of the region’s largest, independent family-owned accountancy firms with eight offices across the Midlands.

Both runners-up will also be rewarded with £5,000 of mentoring and accountancy advice from Baldwins following the judges’ decision, after giving their presentations to a 300-strong audience at Villa Park.

Ellie Bekalo (22) and Sam Wilson (23) launched Virtalent in July with the invaluable support of the university’s start-up incubator, BSEEN, which is located at the Birmingham Innovation Campus adjacent to the Aston University campus. They will be competing against Give Vision, an app for Google Glass, which acts as “eyes” for blind and visually-impaired people, as well as Art of Football, that sells hand-crafted t-shirts which capture defining moments in football.

The graduates from Aston University match highly skilled UK university students with small business owners, to carry out tasks ranging from graphic design to social media management, for a flexible number of hours per month.

Ellie said: “When you are an entrepreneur just starting a business, there might be an area that you struggle to develop. We can assign you a student who is capable of assisting in that business area, so that the entrepreneur can concentrate on the more value-adding aspects of their business.”

“The student has an opportunity to earn a flexible, part-time income, which fits around their studies and can be carried out from the comfort of their room, as well as gain hands-on experience working with a growing small business. It allows them to put what they learn in the lecture hall into practice.

Sam added: “We aim to reduce the cost and worry associated with employing permanent staff, allowing the small business owner to grow or shrink their business with ease, at the same time as giving them access to a wide range of different skillsets.”

“It would mean everything to us to win. Both the grant that is being offered, but also the support and advice offered to us, as we look to raise our first round of investment”.

David Baldwin, a partner at Baldwins Accountants, said the young business owners had beaten some extremely talented candidates to reach the final.

“The finalists will present an overview of their business on the night to the audience and we want them to highlight their product or service, their future plans and their personality,” he said.

“We want to give the first prize to a business which has spotted a gap in the market and has long-term potential.”

Tickets to attend the gala dinner are available from

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Virtalent is an online workforce platform that matches busy entrepreneurs with a handpicked Virtual Assistant.

Virtalent was founded in the summer of 2014 by Sam Wilson and Ellie Bekalo, two graduates from Aston University in Birmingham, as an alternative workforce solution for entrepreneurs. They have been featured in The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday, and work with brands like the Marco Pierre White chain and Mills & Reeve.

Their outsourcing solution saves these small business owners from trawling through listing after listing on task marketplaces (like PeoplePerHour), dealing with freelancers from all over the world or managing the extra operational risk (and fixed expense) associated with hiring more permanent staff.