National Entrepreneurial Business Awards 2012

Double delight this week as we have been shortlisted for the National Entrepreneurial Business Awards as well as The Green Awards 2012.

We are delighted particularly as this will be our 10th year and is a reflection of the hard work of the whole team who have made The Secret Garden what it is today.

The next stage is an interview with the judging panel.

Update 6/04/2012

I have been reflecting on my ‘interview’ on the 4/04/12 and decided that I want to put my experience down in words. My interview with the “expert adjudication panel ” was arranged for 9am, and as expected I was present before my time to ensure I was punctual. At 9am the room remained empty and I passed my time reviewing my submission, until ten minutes later when the next candidate arrived.

At 9.25am two of the panel arrived and my friendly greeting of good morning was either not heard or just ignored. No comment was made about the delay and myself and the other candidate were clearly surprised at the lack of communication. I was invited into the room five minutes later and although an apology was made for the fact the third judge was not present, no comment was made about the “independent adjudicator” not being present or the reason for the delay.

My interview was brief a maximum of ten minutes and in my opinion the questions and process could not have allowed for my entry to be judged under the following indicative criteria:

Business successes and highpoints
Business Plan and Strategy
Financial Performance of Business
Innovative approach to developing products/services
Importance of the business to the local community
The Entrepreneurial Skills of the Applicant

So by putting my views down in my blog I am well aware that my entry chances could be affected, then again being an entrepreneur involves taking risks and when you invest time and effort you expect a similar level of investment and respect to be returned.

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7 Responses to National Entrepreneurial Business Awards 2012

  1. You’re on a roll! Good luck with these awards aswell!

    Sharon

  2. brian says:

    Update 14/04/12
    Email received from an anonymous source highlighting concerns about the awards.

    From: Anon Ymous
    To: email addresses removed for confidentiality
    Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:05 PM
    Subject: FW: EBA

    We enclose a copy of an email sent to the EBA to which they have NOT replied, we did ask them to do this by close of business today and yet they have not deemed it necessary. It is with great sadness that it seems this is necessary but before you go to any expense in relation to this “Awards” we would like to share our concerns and seeing as the “award” sponsors are not concerned we think it is up to the “finalists” to ask these questions before any more expense is made.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing with reference to the EBA awards and I hate to have to admit I am a little concerned about the authenticity of the EBA’s and would like you to clarify a few points if possible.

    According to your website the interview process as undertook this week should have been as follows:-

    · “All entries will be carefully assessed and finalists will be shortlisted for each award.
    · The shortlist of finalists will be published on the appropriate county website and appointed a set date for interview (see Key Dates). An invitation will be issued that day to all finalists confirming the date and time of their presentation to the adjudication panel. See Key Dates.
    · Finalists will meet an expert adjudication panel at the assigned Interview Centre where they will have an opportunity to present their achievements in person. A maximum of two people may attend to present an entry (except for transition year students and Leaving Cert Applied Students).
    · The judges will have an opportunity to speak directly with the entrant(s) and find out more about their achievements. Each finalist will be invited to a 20 minute interview with the judges.
    · The adjudicators will select the winners who will be announced at the Awards Gala Night.”

    “Entries will be judged under the following indicative criteria:
    · Business successes and highpoints
    · Business Plan and Strategy
    · Financial Performance of Business
    · Innovative approach to developing products/services
    · Importance of the business to the local community
    · The Entrepreneurial Skills of the Applicant

    The interview attended by my company was conducted by two of the people who were sponsoring the awards and thus also running them. There was no “independent” adjudicator there as specified on your website. None of the above questions were asked, in fact very few questions were asked at all. The interview was far shorter than the specified 20 minutes and the interview panel had not even viewed the company website, they knew nothing about us, showed little interest in the company and were hostile. During the process of waiting to be interviewed not even a cup of tea was offered which considering these attendees were “finalists” in this award, it was a very poor show. We have now also viewed the tickets for the Gala are now €80.00 per ticket. Given that the finalist’s have already paid €50.00 to enter and will not be aware who is the winner unless they attend this function we feel that this is prejudicial of the whole contest and also more expense given that we had to pay to enter the competition despite being nominated.

    What becomes even more worrying about this point is that your website states the following in terms of the “judging panel”:-

    “The independent Judging Panel follows strict judging criteria and uses official marking sheets and the judging process is generic throughout the country. In the interests of fairness and transparency the panel is overseen by an independent adjudicator.”

    As already pointed out this was not in fact how the interview process took place and further following a little research it seems that Alison Cummins is in fact directly linked on a personal basis to one of the finalist. Shona Bourke is listed on Alison Cummins personal Facebook page as a “friend” this lady is also the owner of “The Rye River Café”. (We have copies of the pages showing this relationship). I would like to know how it would be possible for Alison to “independently” assess the merits of a company in terms of its business attributes when she is in fact personally linked to the competition sponsors. Further it seems all of the competition “sponsors” are also the companies owned by the three “organisers” of the competition. Given that there was no one “independently” overseeing any of the processes in this competition it would be prudent to argue that this is in fact being misrepresented as a “competition” and is making money from authentic competition entrants who are not being afforded equal treatment. Further it seems that “Kilcock Business Association” is also linked with Alison which is further evidenced by the fact that her “partner” in Aliara, Ms. Tara Lane is:-

    Kilcock Business Association
    9 February
    A big thank you to all who attended the AGM last night. We have 3 new members voted onto the committee Darren Mooney of Quickstitch.ie, Barry Prendergast of Prendergast & Co Accountants and Ger McGeeney of Kilcock Autos. The Committee now consists of Chairperson: Tara Lane, Secretary: Coleen Vorster, Treasurers: Colm Doolan and Barry Prendergast, PRO: Darren Mooney, John Ryan, Sean Browne, Thomas Byrne, Mark Leonard, Ger McGeeney and Robert Cleary. A huge thank you to the committee who worked so hard during 2011 and a huge welcome to the new members.

    The Facebook page for Kilcock Business Association is supported by two of your “judges” and is also seen to be promoting Rye River Cafe – the aforementioned finalist.

    I would further like to direct you to the following link:-

    http://tweakyourbiz.com/announcements/2012/02/03/eba-launches-ireland%E2%80%99s-first-ever-inter-county-business-awards/

    When this “competition” was first announced it was also stated that the “regional” winners in each category would receive a “prize” and would then move onto the national final.

    “The regional winners of each category will receive prizes to help grow their businesses in addition to securing their place in the national final on 18th May 2012.”

    Upon the announcement of the final there has since been no mention of who the “regional” finalist/winners are and further there has been mention of the stated “prizes” for the regional winners. As a “finalist” entitled to attend the national final that must mean that we were a “regional” finalist and therefore entitled to a “prize”.

    Clearly there is a vast amount of misrepresentation being made here and given that this is a competition which costs money to both enter AND to find out if you are a “prize” winner I think that further investigation needs to be carried out and the above points clarified by the competition organisers. We will be taking steps to contact other “finalists” with this information to ensure that they are aware of the discrepancies which have arisen and to ensure that the competition is run fairly and transparently. Should a response not be forthcoming to the above points we will proceed to take steps to bring this information to the attention of the Irish press/media.

    Finally:-

    Alison Cummins
    Thursday via Facebook for Android
    Only one more day left in the week from hell … Roll on Saturday!

    Not an impressive stance to take given that this is one of the competition “sponsors”. The people in this competition have gone great expense and hard work and for the competition judge to be so openly disinterested in the “judging” process highlights further disregard to those taking part. As a business owner regardless of whether or not this is a personal page, you should be aware of your need for privacy if you wish to make statements which could be viewed in conjunction with your role in the EBA’s and also in respect to your own company.

    NB:-

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/219012

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/0217/1224311917012.html

  3. Margaret says:

    Well done on writing this article. We were approached to enter this ‘award’ but I was suspicious from the start and we decided not to enter.

    You are right to highlight this.

    Margaret

  4. brian says:

    Thank you Margaret, I am just highlighting concerns which I believe have not been answered in the email by “Anon Ymous”.

    I just believe in respect and accountability.

  5. Derek says:

    I received all the emails you would have received (the anonymous one then followed by, just the other day, the cancellation email). Also it was announced on RTE1 that this was going to be on todays live line however it wasn’t (I don’t normally listen to that show but I did today!). Funny goings on indeed! On the up-side they (EBA in their letter) said they’d be paying back the entry fee and any other fees paid (bookings for the meal/gala thing) so no-loss except for a bit of interview practice and a very good source of small-talk / gossip.

    • brian says:

      Great to see fees refunded. However there was still the travel and preparation time as I am sure like others I did do preparation for both the application and the ‘interview’.

  6. brian says:

    Aware that this update should be on the post but to keep the timeline in order I shall post as a reply.

    Well sadly the awards were cancelled all entries received an email on Tuesday 17th April advising that the Kildare Entrepreneurial Business Awards were invoking the provisions of their terms and conditions and were cancelling this year’s Awards.

    However it would appear that blame was apportioned to those who had raised questions via Facebook and Twitter (including myself) and were indirectly accused of sabotaging the awards. Well I certainly would not describe asking valid questions as sabotage and I am baffled that this would result in the loss of securing a major sponsor . One would assume that the sponsorship would have been in place at the onset rather than still required a month before the awards!!!!

    Had the experience for myself and others been more professional this situation would not have occurred, and had there been more open communication it could have been resolved in a more appropriate manner. Each applicant may well receive their entry fee, but they wont receive any compensation for travel or other costs they may have incurred and one can never replace the most important commodity that of our time.

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