Grimsby entrepreneur gets a helping hand from Dragon Theo
A GRIMSBY entrepreneur has caught the eye of a Dragon – via Twitter rather than a terrifying televised presentation.
Jo Smedley's Red Herring Games provides role-playing murder mysteries, which can be customised for clients from her home office in St Augustine's Avenue and the pens of several freelance writers she is connected with.
Now, Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis's social networking competition has put the mother of two's business before an audience of more than 215,000 after she was picked from a mass of entrants to be one of six Small Business Sunday Stars.
Mr Paphitis runs the #SBS competition on Twitter each weekend to help raise the profiles of entrepreneurial small business owners.
Each Sunday between 5pm and 7.30pm as most people relax, small business tweeters from all over the world send him a 140 character message to promote their business.
He reviews them, their websites, and then repeats (or retweets) the winning message to his legion of followers.
Mrs Smedley said: "I have been applying for this since I went to an E-Factor course on social media in the autumn. I changed the tweet every week.
"To win is terrific. It has put my business in front of 215,000 people for a start, and the winners are an elite group of people. One has since been on Dragons' Den. Theo is quite influential and if he takes a look at your business and develops an interest, that can only be good."
As a thank you, some murder mystery goodies, including a stuffed red herring and hand cuffs, have been sent to the Crewe head office of stationery firm Ryman, of which Mr Paphitis is chairman.
Mrs Smedley has thanked a plethora of local businesses for their support, including Mark and Gill Hardy for their continued website support and Alison Clynes of Kinetic Marketing and Design, as well as the teams of actors, voiceover experts and her BNI colleagues.
Launched in 2007, Red Herring Games came from Mrs Smedley's desire to run her own business.
Two years ago she made it a full-time role, calling time on her career as an occupational therapist, and now she has just taken on a new member of staff.
Complete packs are put together for parties of four to 200 people and they are increasingly popular corporate bonding or celebratory events, with hotels and other venues often hired out to accommodate them.
Ranging from £15.99 to £49.99, games come with instructions, character labels, scripts and invitations. More than 20 were added to the portfolio last year alone.
Customers total more than 12,000 and products have just started to be listed on Amazon.