Reading: Entrepreneur Ali Shah wins at EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 London & South East

Ali Shah, CEO of Reading-based TravelUp Group, was named the ‘Scale Up’ award winner at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 London & South East awards ceremony at Tate Britain in London last night.


TravelUp Group is an online travel agent that offers value for money flight and hotel deals, utilising a bespoke deal finder technology. The company was founded in 2014 and offers a full-service travel solution for their customers’ travel and holiday needs, providing support from booking right through to their travel or holiday.

Shah took home the Scale Up award and was commended by the judges for ‘building his business from the ground up’ and for being ‘passionate about giving back to his communities and creating jobs in his homeland in Pakistan’. The judges were also particularly impressed by his technology which is now being used by Skyscanner.

Paul Etherington, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year leader for the Thames Valley and South, said: “Congratulations to Ali for being recognised at our Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 London & South East awards last night and for his hard work in scaling TravelUp to be the successful business it is today. Ali’s personal story is inspirational, having taught himself English after arriving in the UK from Pakistan, and he remains passionate about creating jobs in his homeland as well as here.

“In the Thames Valley we have an enviable entrepreneurial community and businesses such as TravelUp create jobs, generate wealth and contribute to the continued economic growth of our region.”

Other winners

In total, seven entrepreneurs in the London & South East region, were presented with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. They are as follows:

Disruptor – Martin Frost, CMR Surgical, based in Cambridge – a UK-based company developing the next-generation surgical robot, Versius.

Rising Star (& overall winner) – Norris Koppel, Monese, based in London – allows customers to bank like locals across the UK and Europe with a UK and European IBAN bank account. The app is available in 12 different languages.

Rising Star – Tugce Bulut, Streetbees, based in London – collects real time insights worldwide, using artificial intelligence and geolocation technology to make market research more effective.

Societal Impact – Dr Emer MacSweeney, Re:Cognition Health, based in London – a cognitive impairment and mental health provider with clinics in the UK and the US. They diagnose and treat: ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s disease and mild Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sustained Excellence – Gurman Hundal, MiQ, based in London – a marketing intelligence company, with a platform that combines real-world, digital data and applies marketing intelligence to provide customers insights.

Transformational Leader – Alastair Stewart, etc.venues, based in London – a provider of conference, meeting, training and events spaces across the UK. The company has 15 venues, hosted 900,000 delegates in 2018 and amassed sales of £60 million.

All regional winners (Scotland, North, Midlands & South West, and London & South East) will now compete for the title of ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year overall winner’ in the UK Final held in London in November and the chance to represent the UK at the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in summer 2020.

From left: Ali Shah, Dr Emer MacSweeney, Gurman Hundal, Norris Koppel, Martin Frost, Alistair Stewart


The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year London & South East independent judging panel was chaired by Matt Isaacs, Co-Founder and Chairman of Essence. He was joined by:

  • Jack Bowman, founder, Oxbridge Investment Capital
  • Farida Gibbs, CEO, Gibbs Hybrid
  • Irina Hemmers, partner, Inflexion Private Equity Partners LLP
  • Henrietta Morrison, founder, executive chair and brand director, Lily’s Kitchen 
  • Simon Stewart, founder and CEO, The Growth Stage