Watton business woman wins Dragons' Den style competition

THE director of a Norfolk soft drinks company is celebrating after winning a dragon's den style competition.

THE director of a Norfolk soft drinks company is celebrating after winning a dragon's den style competition.

Claire Martinsen, who started Watton-based Breckland Orchard in March, wowed the five judges in the final of the Brecks' Competition Dragons' Den Style in Attleborough last Wednesday.

She was one of five entrepreneurs to reach the final of the Breckland Council competition based on the hit BBC TV show Dragons' Den and which aimed to give a boost to businesses in the local area.

As the ultimate winner, Mrs Martinsen has been awarded a council-owned business unit rent free for 12 months up to the value of �10,000 as part of her prize.

Mrs Martinsen's company creates sparkling soft drinks made from Norfolk spring water and fruit juice.

Breckland Orchard currently has four drinks flavours - including ginger beer with chilli which won a gold award from the Guild of Fine Food.

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And in just six months the brand is already proving very popular. It is stocked by some of the National Trust's properties as well as dozens of cafes, delis, farmshops and pubs across the region, and Mrs Martinsen is now hoping to launch the brand nationally.

She said: 'I was first inspired to produce my own brand of soft drinks by my grandmother, she used to make lemonade for me and my sister when we were little. It was lemonade just as it should be!

'I am absolutely shocked and over the moon to have won the competition, the unit will enable my business to expand and grow.

'The drinks aren't made in a huge factory, instead each is made in small batches and winning the unit will enable me to store much larger batches of the drinks ready for distribution.'

Second place went to former policeman Andy Turner who runs publishing business Yabber Ltd with his wife Vicky from their home in Colkirk, near Fakenham.

Third place went to software expert Craig Champion, who runs mVenturewith marketing consultant James Scott. He was awarded a 12 month virtual office lease as part of his prize.

mVenture is based in the Great Hockham area and specialises in developing mobile phone applications which include an iPhone application for golf training.

The other finalists were Great Ellingham-based Gilmar de Souza, of Prisma Components Limited which serves the national and international energy market, and Steve Hannant, from Taverham, who runs The Flag Wizard, a display and flag business.

Both received the chance of some expert business advice and half-price business banking as part of their prizes.

Bill Smith, Breckland Council's deputy leader, was on the panel of judges.

He said: 'It was most inspiring to see so many well thought out business ideas, which bodes well for the future of Breckland's economic well being. Breckland Council is proud to support businesses at all levels and it's great to be able to help people in the formative years of their new company, particularly those with such fantastic potential.'