Merlin Piscitelli, Head of Merrill DataSite Sales - Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) | October 06, 2016
2016 Ernst and Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year
Merlin Piscitelli, Head of Merrill DataSite Sales - Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) | Oct 5, 2016
“You don’t have to be literate to be knowledgeable” were Ambarish Mitra’s words, after being crowned Overall Winner at Monday night’s EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The India-born CEO of visual discovery app, Blippar, reminded a captive audience that a significant percentage of the world are illiterate and yet, a significant proportion of technology requires a degree of literacy. Blippar is a free smartphone app which searches objects by simply taking a photo of them. It’s disrupting the way we educate and inform through technology, whilst offering a way to connect brands more innovatively to consumers. Mitra’s aim is to, one day, rival Facebook and Google.
Where Mitra stands today is a far cry from living life in a New Delhi slum, after running away from his home in Kolkata as a teen. Working as a magazine seller during the day and chai wallah by night, his entrepreneurial hunger won him $10,000 in a newspaper competition for his idea of a women’s online info portal. He went on to take that company public, co-found several start ups, earn a master’s degree at the London School of Economics, and eventually build Blippar. Today, Blippar is 65 million users strong in 175 countries and is one of the UK’s best-funded start ups.
After being nominated three times with EY, Mitra has finally achieved a well-deserved win and will be heading to Monaco next June for the global awards. We wish him the very best of luck.
Mitra’s entrepreneurship is a perfect example of why we’re living in such an exciting age. The sheer determination, creativity and technology is tremendously inspiring. Each time I’m involved with Ernst and Young’s (EY) entrepreneurship programme, I’m honestly astounded by the level of talent and innovation we’re witnessing emerge across the world. We’re living in an entrepreneurial zeitgeist where the resurgence of creative spirit, in the last decade or so, has truly redefined the global business landscape. It’s genuinely thrilling to see what creative solutions will appear next, whether that’s in response to a social issue, a commercial opening or technological advancement.
Monday night highlighted the impressive and diverse talent pool of entrepreneurs constantly developing across the UK. I was pleased to see a number of our Merrill clients up for nomination, it was fantastic to see that we have supported them on their journeys. The judges deemed this year as “the hardest year yet”. That’s a definitely a good problem to have, in my eyes. Each category had between 3 and 6 nominees, selected according to criteria including, innovation, business performance and social impact. The winners will go on to represent the UK at the World Finals in Monaco in 2017, where just one individual will be crowned EY World Entrepreneur of the Year.
This year’s MC, Jeremy Vine highlighted the importance of UK entrepreneurship in the face of Brexit -the fact that as a country, we need to pull together and fulfil the responsibility to create jobs and business. The event highlighted several individuals who are in a position to take up this challenge; the 40 finalists alone have created 16,000 jobs and already generated an impressive£2.5 billion turnover.
The story of Social Enterprise category winner, Dr Guy Turbull, Managing Director of CASA, particularly struck a chord. Turnbull was diagnosed with cerebral palsy some years ago. He was told he would never walk again by two doctors. He wouldn’t accept it. When a third doctor told him that with intense physiotherapy, there was a chance, Turnbull took that chance. During his rehabilitation, his mum was told that if he fell down, she wasn’t to help – he had to pick himself up, by himself. And so he did, repeatedly. Today he’s walking and running a successful social enterprise helping provide domestic care to some of society’s most vulnerable. His championing of ethical business is immensely inspiring and his personal story embodies the spirit of true entrepreneurs – without a doubt, you will suffer huge setbacks and you will fall. But you need to learn how to pick yourself up in order to walk through the doors of success.
Some of the other winners who stood out included: Kym Denny, CEO of Hvivo, offering a technology platform for drug development and Thomas Fleming, CEO of Dealogic, offering a global financial markets platform. If I’m truly honest, all of the nominees are winners for what they’ve already achieved and I’d like to congratulate each of them on their success.
Ernst Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2016
Overall winner: Ambarish Mitra, Blippar
UK winners: Glenn Elliott, Reward Gateway; Heather Penn and John Penn, SSE Audio Group; Kym Denny, hVIVO; William Chase, Chase Distillery; Thomas Fleming, Dealogic; Mark Jones and Jeremy Taylor, Green Frog Power; Ged Mason, Morson Group; John Woodward and Marg Randles, Busy Bees;Chris Gauld, Spark Energy; Guy Turnbull, CASA
It’s always a pleasure for Merrill to participate in this exciting programme. There is much to take away from the lessons each entrepreneur can share. EY’s programme goals align tightly with Merrill’s own vision of innovation, success and economic development. We continue to be extremely proud sponsors of this programme, and truly enjoy participating in the nominee interview process.
This October, the EY UK-wide heat has once again, put us in touch with hugely talented industry leaders around the country, in the middle of their expansive growth phases - phases which Merrill is fundamentally built around and phases in which we are proud to provide our own technology solutions, facilitating business growth and simplifying processes.
In EMEA, our due diligence platform, Merrill DataSite, helps companies, of all size and industry, organise their due diligence when raising capital, conducting M&A or IPO transactions; and our Transaction and Compliance services support legal documentation requirements, through our collaborative platform, Merrill Bridge and financial print.
Working as business partners with these companies, throughout their lifecycles, is always an immensely exciting prospect and we look forward to continuing to support EY’s championing of entrepreneurship and the journeys of talented entrepreneurs, both nationally and internationally.