Alan Donegan charged up onto the stage when it was announced he had won Entrepreneur of the Year at the Inspire15 Business Awards.
And it is no wonder as the Inspire Business Awards, organised by Destination Basingstoke, is the highlight of the north Hampshire business calendar, celebrating the very best of businesses across the region from Andover to Basingstoke, Farnborough to Aldershot and everywhere in between.
The irrepressible Basingstoke businessman, who is behind the PopUp Business School, could not have been happier at winning the richly deserved accolade.
“It was fantastic,” recalled Alan, who attended last November’s glittering awards night with his wife Katie, at Highfield Park country hotel, near Hook.
He said: “The venue was full of energy – there was a wonderful uplifting atmosphere. It was quite an event.
“Winning the award created quite a social media buzz for us. We got some great publicity and the story made it into the local papers and on the radio too.
“It also allowed me to have sales conversations with two local councils. But above all it gave us recognition for the good work we have been doing.”
On the actual night Alan promised: “I’m going to use this award to help inspire others to become entrepreneurs.”
He certainly kept to his word as the business has been going places – literally.
Over the past year, Alan and his enthusiastic team have held their innovative PopUp Business School workshops all over the UK and in Ireland too, from the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading to venues in Kent, Birmingham and Glasgow, along with Newport in Wales and in Dublin.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by The Autoplaza, came at a time when the enterprise, which aims to help people start business and make money in a fresh and upbeat way, was moving up a gear. Alan, who had been trading as a sole trader for eight years, turned his PopUp Business School into a limited company, employing three staff.
At around the same time the PopUp Business School was selected as a partner for The Deloitte Super Pioneers Programme.
“There was a lot going on at that point and the award showed that we were, and still are, going in the right direction.
“And it was lovely showing the team the award, which is very impressive. I think it helped bring us together as a team. It also allowed our clients to say, ‘yes that’s why we use this business’.”
Among those very impressed with Alan and his PopUp Business School was James Rant, Ford Operations Director at The Autoplaza, based in Houndmills, Basingstoke. He said: “Alan proved beyond a doubt that he has all the characteristics of an entrepreneur – self-reliant, striving for excellence, optimistic and willing to take measured risks.
Alan demonstrated all these things and more, teaching other people to become entrepreneurs with 100 per cent passion and belief in his business model.”