10/26/2018News

At Star-studded Creator Awards London, Entrepreneurs Shine the Brightest

by Jo Caird

In a huge space where newspapers and magazines used to roll off the printing presses, more than 4,000 people came together to watch Ashton Kutcher and a panel of high-profile judges award $738,000 in funding to innovative business and nonprofit ventures.

The event was WeWork’s Creator Awards London 2018, which took place on Oct. 26 at Printworks, one of the British capital’s most impressive events space. It was the second year in a row the awards have been held in London.

The London Creator Awards is the 14th incarnation of WeWork’s signature global event. Millions of dollars have been awarded to over 200 winners around the world since the pitch contest was established in March 2017, including 31 British and Irish winners.

WeWork Creator Awards London masterclass - Scott Harrison, Emma Gannon, Joshua CoombesEntrepreneurs Scott Harrison, Emma Gannon, and Joshua Coombes speak at a masterclass called "Passion to Purpose."

Along with cheering on the inspiring winners during the star-studded ceremony, attendees made promising connections at the Jobbio job fair, socialized at the Meetup-sponsored Togetherfest, and got tips from the top in the masterclass featuring WeWork cofounder Miguel McKelvey.

In an evening of superlatives, here are our favorite moments: the ones that made us laugh, gasp, whoop, and cry.

Nostalgia to the max: There’s nothing quite like being part of a 4,000-strong crowd singing along to Wheatus’s 2000 hit “Teenage Dirtbag” as played by a brass band, No Limit Street Band, who opened the ceremony.

WeWork Creator Awards London - No Limit Street BandThe No Limit Street Band performs its rendition of Wheatus’s 2000 hit “Teenage Dirtbag.”

Best history lesson: Kutcher told the bittersweet story of beloved 19th-century British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who had an almighty failure with a railway that he couldn’t make work because he couldn’t “break the platform that existed.” Kutcher explained: “Sometimes the world smacks you in the face with a platform or regulation or competition that you cannot overcome. But that doesn’t mean you put your hand down. You keep putting your hand up and you keep building.”

Most creative swag: The team from open access screen-printing studio 3rd Rail Print Space were kept busy all night long printing T-shirts for attendees.

Best lightbulb moment: “It’s the human stories, not the statistics, that move people,” said Joshua Coombes, founder of the #DoSomethingForNothing campaign, as part of a masterclass discussion on how to spread the word about your venture. He spoke at a masterclass called "Passion to Purpose" with Scott Harrison and Emma Gannon.

Creator Awards London - AfrocenchixJoycelyn Mate celebrates when her company Afrocenchix wins the top prize.

Biggest surprise: Joshua Ogunnote, plucked at random from the crowd and invited to pitch by Kutcher, was awarded $18,000 to grow his music sharing social network called Chune. Ogunnote only found out about the awards by chance on the day of the ceremony because a friend of a friend had a spare ticket. How’s that for serendipity?

Funniest overheard remark: “I’ve decided I don’t actually need to pee. I can’t be bothered to take off this jumpsuit.”

Most transformative opportunities: Who knows how many sales will be made, jobs will be won, and contracts agreed to as a result of the one-to-one website consultations from Squarespace and headshots from City House Films, both offered for free to attendees?

WeWork Creator Awards London - Joshua Ogunnote of ChuneJoshua Ogunnote, plucked at random from the crowd, wins $18,000 to grow his music sharing social network.

Biggest winners: Rachael Corson and Joycelyn Mate of Afrocenchix, which makes natural products for people with curly or kinky hair, garnered the largest prize of the night, winning $360,000 in the Business Venture category. Change Please, which helps people out of homelessness by training them as baristas, was the big winner in the Nonprofit category, taking home $72,000.

Most impressive response to grilling by judges: Lorel Quinn, founder of Sustainably, was quick to set the record straight about the way her charitable giving platform currently charges its users after questioning by Monzo cofounder Jonas Templestein. Her coolness under pressure may have been one of the reasons that Templestein and his fellow judges decided to reward Sustainably with funding of $180,000.

Social media lifesaver: With all the famous faces, photo opportunities, and shareable moments, attendees’ phone batteries were running on empty. Thank goodness, therefore, for the presence of ChargedUp, which lent battery packs and cables for charging on the go.

WeWork Creator Awards London - Change PleaseChange Please, which helps people out of homelessness by training them as baristas, is the big winner in the Nonprofit category.

Most emotional moment: As McKelvey introduced a short film about last year’s London Creator Award winner Andiamo, he told attendees that watching it had brought him to tears. Sure enough, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Andiamo cofounders Samiya and Naveed Parvez described founding a company to make orthoses for children with disabilities. When 13-year-old Jack Gower, a boy whose life has been transformed with Andiamo’s 3D-printed braces, joined the Parvezes on stage with his mother, the audience leapt to its feet to give the foursome a standing ovation. Gower’s words to attendees—“Don’t ever quit because you never know what opportunities might come up”—are ones that will surely endure.

Best grand finale: When the serious business of the night was over, the crowd was treated to a headline set by Grammy Award-winning producer and DJ Diplo.