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I collect people – he collect awards – Imran Hakim (aka Mr. iTeddy) – Another day of Northern StartUp 2.0

Northern StartUp 2.0 is becoming a much discussed topic these days within the tech entrepreneur community in the North of England. Among those who have spent few hours trying to understand, why a 41 year old man is so excited about Manchester and the tech scene is none other than Mr. Imran Hakim who is perhaps best known as Mr. iTeddy, since he appeared on our TV screen requesting funding for a startup from a tough looking bunch of business angels, known as BBC Dragons.

Whilst these two characters are trying to work out the next steps in collaboration, it is interesting to note their three key differences, these being:

  1. 31 years vs. 41 years (both yet to hit these later this year)
  2. Over achiever vs. under achiever (very subjective, of course)
  3. Twitter amateur vs. Twitter savvy (this may have something to do with selection of mobile phones used)

Here are three common traits observed by the older chap:

  1. Unlimited energy (what is he thinking at 41?)
  2. Asian (the young guy keep saying, are you not Indian then? Yes, I know it is shocking)
  3. Passionate about Manchester (according to a recent Twitter poll, the older chap has no chance of becoming a Mancunian after living in Manchester for nearly 9 years)

On the 3rd note, the older chap has not yet decided on which football team to support since earlier days of supporting Newcasle United when it was promoted to premiership in mid 90s, whilst living and working in there.

So here is an extract of what Smarta is saying about this young lad from Bolton:

Imran Hakim

Imran controls a diverse business portfolio which includes a lens laboratory, spectacle frame distribution, optical retailing, management, recruitment and most recently a toy company with the development of iTeddy. His business experience ranges from restructuring existing loss-making businesses out of administration to become successful and profitable operations – to successfully negotiating licensing arrangements with global brands including Reebok, Longines and Revlon in order to secure distribution rights within given territories.

In 2007, after securing investment on Dragons’ Den, Imran worked with prolific businessmen Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones to launch the award-winning iTeddy and associated licence platform, Billed as the Teddy Bear brand for the 21st century. This year Imran has put together a distribution deal with Vivid Imaginations UK’s biggest toy company, and the product is now retailing in more than 40 countries world-wide, including every major UK toy retailer (including Tesco, Asda, Argos, Woolworths, Costco, Makro, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Harrods, Hamleys etc) with an extensive global TV campaign.

Imran has won several business awards over the years in recognition of his numerous endeavours, including: Best Newcomer to Vision Express 2005, the North West Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2006, and Fusion Entrepreneur of the Year 2007. His work growing the iTeddy brand has earned him awards for Design, Innovation and Technology 07, Toy Inventor of the Year 07 and World Toy Innovation 08, Startup Business of the year 08, IoD Northwest Young Director of the year 08, Young emerging talent 08, as well as a string of International product awards. In Dec 08, Imran was awarded the Mosaic award for Science and Technology by HRH The prince of Wales. In addition to numerous radio and press interviews, in 2008 Imran was featured in The Sunday Times as an Entrepreneur to watch out for in the next few years.

In his spare time, Imran works to encourage entrepreneurship, through speaking engagements and mentoring young entrepreneurs. He is now an active member of TIE, UKIBC, NWIDF and Bolton Primary Care Trust. He has also teamed up with fellow entrepreneur Ben Way, incubating and investing in start-up companies through ‘The Rainmakers’.

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