East Lothian Businesswoman shortlisted for Unretirement Entrepreneur Award 2023


AN inspirational Scottish entrepreneur was honoured at The Great British Entrepreneur Awards this month in the new category ‘Unretirement Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the London Grosvenor Hilton Hotel. The new category, awarded by Specsavers and 55/Rede ned, celebrates inspiring and ingenious founders, aged 50 or over, who have launched successful businesses in their later years.

Sheila Hogam is a Scottish (East Lothian), former Dragon’s Den contestant who is reinventing how end-of-life administration is handles with her ‘digital legacy vault’ Biscuit Tin.

Sheila’s success story demonstrates how the talent and vision of more experienced business leaders can make a huge contribution to British business.

Sheila took her own stressful experience of the ‘broken’ way in which end-of-life admin is handled and turned it into a business. Founded in 2020 Biscuit Tin is a digital legacy ‘vault’, which helps families to get their loved ones’ affairs in order and honour their wishes in the event of death, easing the burden and avoiding arduous admin processes, making this difficult time in life a little easier. The company has also been featured on Dragon’s Den.

The number of older entrepreneurs is rising. The 2022 Scale Up Index by Beauhurst which analyses companies that have grown over the last three financial years at an annual rate above 20% in terms of number of employees or turnover, reveals that more than one in five (22%) of directors at scaleups are over 60, while the average age of scaleup directors is 52.5 years old. When 55/Redefined’s Lyndsey Simpson sat down with Sir Richard Branson earlier this year, he identified that the over-50s were one of the fastest growing segments in his Virgin StartUp programme. 55/Redefined’s CEO Lyndsey Simpson presented the award with Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins. Both women have founded businesses in their forties and are testament to the success this award celebrates.

“At Specsavers, we are continually growing our joint venture partnership and offer motivated self-starters the opportunity to run their own businesses. Age should not be a barrier to that. Older entrepreneurs often have a wealth of professional and life experience, which can be a significant asset in making informed business decisions and handling various challenges that arise. Their maturity can lead to better decision-making, problem- problem-solving, and interpersonal skills, which are crucial for managing any successful operation,” says Dame Mary, who started Specsavers 40 years ago with her husband Doug from their spare bedroom. The group now has 43 million customers and employs 41,500 people around the world, including in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

As a leading promoter of age diversity in the workplace, 55/Redefined celebrates workers and businesses like Specsavers, who are championing age-inclusivity, and also the increasing number of 50-somethings who have made it on their own.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Specsavers on this exciting new GBEA category celebrating inspiring unretirement entrepreneurs,” says Lyndsey Simpson, CEO of 55/Redefined. “Age is not and should never be a barrier to entrepreneurial success. Together, we have founded this award to showcase the talent, drive and innovation that over- 50s can bring to starting their own business, with the hope that it will inspire others to be bold and take that first step.”

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