The day I met Theo Paphitis!

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Collecting Camera Centre’s #sbs Award Certificate – a great moment! ©

On 28th November 2013 I attended the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham to collect Camera Centre‘s Small Business Sunday Award at #SBS Event 2013

Registration desks on arrival into the impressive Birmingham International Convention Centre (ICC). ©

Small Business Sunday, shortened to hashtag #SBS, is a competition founded by former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis.  The competition takes place every Sunday on social networking site Twitter from 5.00-7.30pm. 

To enter the competition, small businesses have to tweet @TheoPaphitis including the hashtag #SBS to try and catch the retail guru’s attention by telling him about their business.  Due to the 140 character limit of a tweet, the content has to be carefully thought about.

Networking with fellow Small Business Sunday #sbs winners. ©

Camera Centre‘s winning tweet was:

Can you hear us from Shetland? UK’s most exciting camera store cleverly hidden – but easy to find at

On Monday 1st July 2012 at 8pm, Theo Paphitis retweeted our tweet to his 300,000+ followers which made Camera Centre Britain’s most northerly winners of the #SBS award. The response was immediate with several hundred new Twitter followers and a huge increase in website traffic.  We also received numerous tweets of congratulations which were greatly appreciated.

camera _centre_profile_sbs
As a winner, Camera Centre feature on the official Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday website.

In addition to the exposure of being retweeted to Theo Paphitis’ large Twitter following, Camera Centre feature on the official Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday website in the winners rostrum.  To view Camera Centre’s profile click here.

What struck me at the morning networking session was how passionate everyone was about their business.  To win #SBS you have to be very determined as it can take a lot of perseverance to be a winner, and this was reflected in the energy and enthusiasm which everyone had for their respective business.

Everyone in position in expectation of Theo Paphitis taking to the stage. ©

Ryman’s group CEO Kypros Kyprianou was first on stage and did a great introduction.  Kypros introduced new event sponsors; Kerry Michael from RAC Business, Shannon Diett from DHL Express, Justin Ellis from iLaw and a representative from Bartercard.  Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for, Kypros introduced Theo Paphitis to the stage to rapturous applause.

Theo Paphitis is Chairman of Ryman Stationery, Boux Avenue Lingerie, Robert Dyas and joint owner of Red Letter Days.  Theo also has several investments from his time on BBC Dragons’ Den, several of which were in attendance including Magic Whiteboard, Wedge Welly, Steri Spray, Value My Stuff and Gear to Go.  It was amazing to hear the growth these businesses had experienced since Theo Paphitis had been involved.

A key message for me from SBS Event 2013 was how passionate Theo Paphitis is about small businesses in the UK.  Theo has been there and done it, so can appreciate how difficult it is for people today not only starting up a business, but wanting to achieve growth.  #SBS originated from Theo wanting to give small businesses the opportunity to shout about themselves to a wider audience.

The man himself, Theo Paphitis, takes to the stage and delivers an extremely motivational speech. ©

A one hour question and answer session was scheduled which overran by about forty five minutes.  For me, this emphasised Theo’s generosity by giving up so much of his time so everyone had the chance to ask their question.

I nervously held up my hand and was thinking time may run out when my opportunity arose to ask a question.  It was pretty daunting standing in front of 950 people but when I mentioned Camera Centre was Britain’s most northerly winner, Theo asked the audience to give me a round of applause for travelling such a long way to the event which helped reduce my nerves!

As soon as the questions finished, I attended the two workshops I had signed up for.  Theo had industry experts in attendance from his management team advising on key business areas including E-Commerce, Finance, Logistics, Buying  and Marketing.  I had to dash away from one of the workshops when I saw the queue had died down to have your photo taken with Theo – I was not going to miss that! 

The day was incredibly inspiring and I met some fantastic people on the day including Dylan Moore @aquadesigngroup (whom I had met up with in Manchster on a previous occasion), Gary and Jude Robinson @GWRFasteners, Jack Knight @KnightTCreation, Sabrina Dawe @funkypumpers, Stacey Renphrey @SAS_Stacey, Heather @MuddyMatches, Paul and Gabby @pentagonPIM, Easy Belts @EasyBeltsand several others.

I’m already looking forward to #SBS Event 2014 after Theo announced that the ‘winners meet’ would be an annual event – brilliant!






  1. Jack Knight says:

    Was great to meet you too Ben, fantastic time! I’m looking forward to the next one too. 🙂

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