Ashleigh Ward




Plus X


Plus X Brighton

Pioneers is a two-day intensive course that works with some of the most ground-breaking businesses of the Greater Brighton region. Centred around championing change and driving impact, the programme works with purpose-led businesses that are all working towards creating a brighter future for the planet.

Now, in our third cohort, we would like to introduce you to the latest set of innovators who are breaking down barriers in their industries, and positively impacting the planet and its people.

The cohort will receive tailored support from a series of experts, leaving them with a better understanding of their markets, insights into trialling solutions and improving their offering.  

Read on to learn more about the impact-driven businesses completing their journeys with Pioneers.

Introducing the Pioneers

Dan Flanagan, Founder, Dad La Soul

After sadly losing his father and becoming one himself, Dan Flanagan decided to start a business that would completely revolutionize fatherhood. Having spoken with fellow dads, Dan noticed that when it came to the parenting community, there were barely any spaces that focused on bringing together fathers.

Dan founded Dad La Soul in order to tackle the social isolation of fatherhood, break down emotional barriers and ensure the struggles of the 6 million dads in the UK are seen, heard, and supported. Plus X Brighton recently became the new home of the Brighton playdate, hosting monthly events that will support over 100 local dads and their children.  

Edward Silverton, Director, Mnemoscene 

With over two decades of experience within the industry under his belt, Edward Silverton founded Mnemoscene to modernise the sector. Mnemoscene works closely with cultural heritage organisations to tell engaging stories with their digital collections.  

By harnessing the latest technologies, sustainable innovations and creative tools, Edward helps his clients to create engaging works that are future-proof. His impressive list of clients includes The Science Museum, British Library, Duke University and the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust. More recently, Mnemoscene have just launched ‘Grace’, an immersive film installation for the RNLI Grace Darling Museum. 

Laura Brown, Marketing Manager, Brevity Marketing 

Brevity Marketing was founded over a decade ago by Kaia Vincent in order to supply an antidote to old-fashioned, conventional marketing. Wanting to revolutionise the foundations of marketing, Brevity Marketing have developed their own unique marketing methodology named, ‘The Marketing Mandala’, which educates and guides entrepreneurial SME leaders towards marketing success.

Every month, the Brevity Marketing team becomes the entire marketing department for over 20 SMEs based across the South of England. Their focus for 2023 is to work with disruptors whose brands support the planet or its people and are looking for clarity on how to cultivate sustainable and ethical growth.  

Julien Lesage, Managing and Creative Director, Lesage Design and EFpedia 

Having run his own design agency, Lesage Design, since 2005, Julien Lesage loves to turn complicated ideas into simple and digestible forms. It’s this passion that has seen him shift his focus in an entirely new direction. His new venture, EFpedia, is a non-profit venture, modelled on Wikipedia, that uses crowd-sourced knowledge to rate goods and services on their eco-footprint. 

His vision is for EFpedia to become the simplest and most trusted way to assess ecological impact whenever anyone buys anything. Eco-Footprint ratings will finally empower buyers and businesses to measure and reduce the damage we are (often unknowingly) doing to our ecosystem. 

Laura Way, Founder, Votch

After experiencing the pain of Topical Steroid Withdrawal, Founder Laura Way vowed to never wear the skin of another being ever again. Armed with her newfound perspective on life, Laura founded Votch, a cruelty-free watch and accessories company that is value-led.

Votch embraces sustainable material innovations, and currently utilises Piñatex, a by-product from the pineapple harvest, and AppleSkin, a material made from residual apple juice fibres. Votch’s collections range from watches and straps to purses, bangles and bags, all made with ethics and sustainability at their core.  

Emma Anastasi, Founder, InTheFlow 

InTheFlow was launched in a bid to tackle the big issues that surround menstruation. Founder, Emma Anastasi launched InTheFlow, to offer up a solution and encourage people to make the swap from single-use period products for something more long term.  

The medical-grade silicon cup can last up to ten years and helps to reduce plastic waste. There is also a blanket buy-one-give-one policy, which means for every cup bought from InTheFlow, another is donated to low-income communities, and a percentage of all profits goes to charities and organisations that fight for gender equality. 

Claire Elmes, Founder, Inspire You 

Inspire You was originally set up by founder Claire Elmes as a side hustle, but once she began to see the impact it was having on her clients, she transformed it into a full-time business. Inspire You uses science-backed approaches to bolster mental fitness and enhance the performance of individuals, teams and organisations.

Now a team of eight, Inspire You has grown exponentially over the years and is committed to its mission to manage stress and burnout and provide the right support to companies and individuals help people recognise signs of stress and burnout and ensure companies and individuals alike have the right support. 

Dan Wallman, Founder, Technative Digital

Having worked directly with young creative people for over 18 years, founder of the specialist Brighton college, DV8, Dan Wallman knows better than anyone where the skills gaps of the future are. His new venture, Technative Digital, works to address the huge pool of untapped potential in the digital and tech sectors.

Through developing new and innovative approaches, Technative Digital will empower more people from diverse backgrounds to gain the skills to work in tech. The business is a coalition of tech and digital employers and educationalists working together to enact change, providing support and consultancy to skills strategy leaders.

Marisa Battrick, Founder, Truthpaste 

Marisa Battrick is on a mission to change oral healthcare for good. After experiencing a ‘pain beyond pain’ thanks to an emergency dental procedure, Marisa decided to investigate Ayurvedic medicine and home dentistry. This is how the first prototype of Truthpaste was born. 

By combining ancient wisdom and modern innovation, Marisa has researched the absolute best organic botanicals for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The result is a range of natural toothpastes, which are zero-waste, cruelty free and vegan and supports gum health and removes bacteria. Truthpaste has now grown into a small team and makes its products here in Brighton. 

Mayank Jain, Founder, MJ & Sons Enterprises 

After running several successful businesses for years in Ukraine, founder, Mayank Jain was forced to flee the country with his family at the outbreak of the war. Mayank now runs MJ & Sons Enterprises from the UK but continues to work with his Ukraine-based R&D team and are focusing their efforts on pharmaceuticals.  
Having worked with Ukranian universities to develop the innovative new drug, Mayank is now working closely with Andrew Abaza of Five Focus Ltd to continue the project’s growth. Mayank is committed to leading his business in a sustainable way and is hoping that their groundbreaking drug will offer a solution to a common lifestyle disease.   

Kim Jack-Riley, Owner, Tea & Grazing

A Certified Tea Sommelier, Tea & Grazing owner, Kim Jack-Riley began travelling from an early age with her family, which is where she got her taste for international delights. Tea & Grazing is a mobile tearoom, offering unique tea tastings for small individuals or groups up and down the country.

Combining traditional afternoon tea experiences with global cultural offerings, the business sources ethically produced loose lead and organic teas and provides its customers with a five-minute guided meditation. The bespoke service aims to recharge and rejuvenate its guests and will even professionally curate music for each event. In the warmer months, you can find Kim and Tea & Grazing at Sussex’s fairs and markets. 

Joshua Monahan, Founder, Morally Made 

There is growing pressure for those in the design and manufacturing sectors to embrace sustainability and the circular economy. This is exactly what founder, Joshua Monahan, wants to empower people to do. Morally Made works to educate people about how spaces can become regenerative and sustainable through the adoption of materials and physical products. 

Morally Made is looking to partner with businesses to deliver creative projects and ultimately produce their own product range which embodies their values. Every project they sink their teeth into works to influence behavioural change when it comes to planetary health. 

Iyabo Bello, Founder, iKooK 

Once a luxury only accessible to the world’s elites, iKooK is breaking open the concept of private dining and enabling it to become a more accessible experience. Created by Iyabo Bello, the revolutionary platform allows anyone to make a booking at any time with some of the best, highest-ratedrated chefs in the country. 

The chefs who sign up to iKooK have autonomy over their hours and bookings and are free to express their culinary creativity through creating set or customised menus. The app also offers its users extra services such as decorators or servers to alleviate the pressure of hosting an event.

Sarah Leedham, Founder, Pendulum Training 

Having spent over two decades as a teacher, Sarah Leedham decided it was time for a change in direction as the pandemic hit. After witnessing some shockingly bad ‘Stress Management’ training that had no lasting impact on individuals, she thought, “I can do that, but much better.” The result is Pendulum Training, the business Sarah founded, making the leap from teaching children to training adults. 

Pendulum Training creates bespoke and off-the-shelf soft skills training for SMEs. Knowing first-hand the importance of making education stimulating, the courses are designed to be engaging and easy to digest and recall. Every course is up to date with the latest research and insights, Pendulum training is intrinsically impact-driven, and Sarah’s courses are adored by participants. 

Anton Simanowitz, Director, Social Performance Solutions 

For over 20 years, Anton Simanowitz has worked tirelessly with purpose-led organisations to optimise their impact through strategy and systems. He has combined his expertise in microfinance, impact assessment and policy as the Director of Social Performance Solutions. 

Social Performance Solutions are motivated by the belief that impact is created by good organisations, not just by scaling good products. They support organisations like charities, social enterprises and good businesses to be more effective at delivering on their good intentions through making impact part of core business.  

BRITE (Brighton Research Innovation Technology Exchange) is an ERDF-funded business support project in partnership with The University of Brighton. The project supports ambitious and scaling businesses in the Coast to Capital region (however applications are considered from outside the area).

The BRITE project is receiving up to £5m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Find out more about BRITE on the website or get in touch to find out more. 

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        Izzy Hoffmann

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        Steffi Murphy

        Steffi Murphy

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