A COMPETITION run by The Press has resulted in a long-term business relationship for one winning York business.

Little Green Rascals, winner of The Press’s Local Business Accelerators competition last year, is still growing with help from mentor Stephen Kennedy, former chief operating officer of CPP and a board member of the Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership.

Mr Kennedy, who works in a non-executive capacity for businesses and usually charges £2,000 per day as a business consultant, said he was still in regular contact with Vanessa Warn, owner of the organic nursery, long after she won three months of mentoring with him.

He said: “It can go beyond the three months if the mentor is willing to continue in the relationship. Because I struck up a good rapport with Vanessa, she got a level of mentoring which went well beyond that.

“You just don’t know where this opportunity is going to go and what it is going to open up.”

Vanessa said that since winning the competition, she had extended capacity at the nursery, based at York Maze in Elvington, so it can now accommodate 101 children, up from 77 children.

She said the competition was useful in getting her to articulate her business plan, and focus on what she was doing, ensuring she was able to answer questions about her business.

She said: “Your plans need to be watertight and if you’re not passionate and committed you will fall down when those questions are asked.

“Winning it was excellent and gave the business great profile. I was able to send the coverage out to parents and prospective parents, which was a great chance to pat ourselves on the back.

“The support of Stephen has been absolutely invaluable, he’s been very generous with his time and I have learnt masses and hope to do so still in the future. The competition put me in touch with someone I wouldn’t have met and struck up such a relationship with under any other circumstances.”

Enter this year’s Local Business Accelerators competition at accelerateme.co.uk before November 16.

Three local businesses, aged between one and five, will win free advertising in The Press and mentoring from Mr Kennedy, Dr Paul Gibson, chief eecutive of PureNet, and Katie Stewart, head of economic development at City of York Council.

One of these winners will be put forward for a national competition to win a year’s mentoring from Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden, an advertising campaign devised by a London advertising agency and £10,000 cash.