Edgware man’s cartoon which teaches English to kids across the globe wins prize
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Edgware man’s cartoon which teaches English to kids across the globe wins prize

Dragon's Den star dubs winning entry 'scalable' as Johathan Schneider teaches people all over the world to speak English with animation

Steven Mendel (judge), Sarah Willingham (judge), Jonathan Schneider (winner) and Jonathan Werth (judge) with the prize. Picture: Leivi Saltman Photography
Steven Mendel (judge), Sarah Willingham (judge), Jonathan Schneider (winner) and Jonathan Werth (judge) with the prize. Picture: Leivi Saltman Photography

An entrepreneur has won a £10,000 grant to grow his business after triumphing in a Dragons’ Den competition judged by TV Dragon Sarah Willingham. 

Jonathan Schneider from Edgware wowed Sarah and the judging panel of Work Avenue with his business Speak with Jack, a unique online English language learning programme for children aged 7-14.

Centred around the life of a 10-year-old animated boy named Jack, it teaches through a combination of high-definition videos, games and quizzes. To date it has helped hundreds of children form countries including Israel, Turkey, Jordan and the UK become more knowledgeable and confident English speakers.

Sarah – who is an entrepreneur, investor and star of hit BBC show Dragons’ Den – said: “It was genuinely so difficult to decide upon a winner out of three wonderful finalists.

“In the end, we were all in agreement that the business we would back as investors, and the one we felt has the greatest chance of making it really big, was Speak with Jack.

“We love the fact that the product is so scalable, which makes it a very investable opportunity. And we could see just how tenacious Jonathan is and how determined he is to make Speak with Jack a success.”

Jonathan, a member of Edgware Adath Yisroel Congregation, will use the prize to cover the hosting and social media costs needed to grow his business.

He said: “The Dragons’ Den event was incredible. I am so happy to have won, and I am equally grateful for the vital support I, and my business, have received from the Work Avenue team every step of the way.”

The competition was the culmination of Work Avenue’s Business Accelerator programme, which saw 13 handpicked fledgling entrepreneurs in the Jewish community go on an intensive six-week training programme covering all aspects of starting and developing a young business.

Each then pitched their business idea to the Work Avenue team, with three finalists selected to compete for the £10,000 prize, which had been generously donated by a Work Avenue supporter.

Up against Jonathan were Fernanda Schwarz of EUROCITIZEN, a consultancy that helps people with European ancestors obtain European citizenship, and Joshua Baron of Port & Bello, an accessible clothing brand for people diagnosed with cancer who want to feel independent and comfortable during treatment.

Joining Sarah on the judging panel were two of the community’s most successful businesspeople – Steven Mendel, CEO and co-founder of insurance company ManyPets, and the investor and mentor Jonathan Werth.

Work Avenue CEO David Arden said: “I was blown away by the passion, commitment and innovation of all the businesses that took part in the Accelerator programme. Every one of them is a winner, taking a significant step forward in realising their business dream.”

The Work Avenue Business Accelerator is the first and only one of its kind designed specifically to help budding entrepreneurs in the Jewish community and was free of charge for those taking part.

It was set up by Work Avenue’s Head of Business Joanna Sadie, who was previously a trainer and mentor for two other leading Business Accelerator schemes.

Joanna said: “Starting a business can be a very daunting and isolating prospect and founders are unlikely to have all the skills necessary on their own. That’s why we created this in-depth and motivating programme, to help kickstart new businesses with expert support, training and resources.

“All 13 of our participants, and especially our three finalists, have launched exciting and viable young businesses. We wish all of them huge success moving forward.”

To find out more about Speak with Jack, visit www.speakwithjack.com
To find out more about Work Avenue and the many ways it supports new and existing businesses, visit www.theworkavenue.org.uk/business/

Picture: Steven Mendel (judge), Sarah Willingham (judge), Jonathan Schneider (winner) and Jonathan Werth (judge) with the prize – picture by Leivi Saltman Photography

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