AN entrepreneur is hoping to light up a business competition with his firm which specialises in electronic cigarettes.
Hartlepool businessman Jim Gillespie is the managing director of Fumus which, is based in Stockton Road.
But it doesn’t just sell the relatively new product to the UK. Jim has his own brand of electronic cigarette.
Electronic cigarettes contain flavoured water with nicotine, but do not contain any tobacco and are seen as a better alternative to normal cigarettes.
His company is the latest entry in this year’s town leg of the Local Business Accelerators competition where the winners receive advertising in the Hartlepool Mail as well as mentoring from three high-profile figures in the town business world.
The firm is not the only one run by Jim who reached the final stages of the competition in the Hartlepool area last year with 1st 4 Solar, a company specialising in solar panels.
He is also originally a financial advisor but during the recession, Jim decided to diversify.
Two of the firms he set up were 1st 4 Solar and Fumus. 1st 4 Solar still operates but a change to tariffs means he is not concentrating solely on the solar energy industry.
Jim described the move into electronic cigarettes as “a massive change.”
He added: “There are 700,000 users in the UK and those people do not want to go back to cigarettes.
“Electronic cigarettes are still a cottage industry in the UK and there are very few household names. Only a handful of companies have their own brand.
“I thought the time was right for us to launch a new brand.”
Jim wants his product to be clinically approved by the UK government. He says that, if it is, it would be the first.
He is also hoping to get backing from primary care trusts and smoking cessation groups.
“Local Business Accelerators would give us a useful platform.
“Although these devices have been in the UK for as long as the smoking ban, it is still a relatively new thing.
“People either have not heard of them or don’t know how they work. A national competition like this would give us a good national platform.”
The highly acclaimed Local Business Accelerators (LBA) campaign, organised by the Newspaper Society, is led by Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den.
It has the backing of the Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King. More than 500 newspapers across the UK are joining forces to deliver a £15m boost to promising young businesses through free advertising and mentoring.
Businesses aged between one and five-years-old can enter LBA and put themselves in with a chance of winning a free advertising campaign in their local paper plus mentoring support from local business leaders.
The most promising businesses will then go forward to the national stage of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.
Businesses can enter the competition in their local newspaper, the Hartlepool Mail and the Peterlee Star. They can do so via the LBA hub, which can be found at www.accelerateme.co.uk and fill out the online form.
They must register before the closing date of Friday, November 16.