DRAGONS’ Den investor and Yo! Sushi founder, Simon Woodroffe, is to give a month of ‘priceless’ one-to-one business mentoring to a former solicitor from Altrincham.

James Cook, 41, who now runs a small furniture business, fought off hundreds of other entrants from across the UK to win the prize, provided by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, in partnership with The Times.

To win, James had to submit a video ‘pitch’ for consideration and then present his case to an expert panel consisting of the Times’ deputy business editor, Andrew Clarke, Simon Woodroffe himself and business psychologist, Tony Crabbe.

Woodroffe will act as James’s personal business trouble-shooter, using his considerable experience to advise and inspire him, with the aim of helping the 45-year-old family business move on to the next level.

On winning the prize, James Cook, design director of the Odd Chair Company, said: “I’m thrilled to have won this mentoring with Simon Woodroffe.

“There is a lot of confusion in our marketplace at the moment and many consumers are buying furniture that they believe has been hand-made using traditional methods, when in fact it’s just been made to look like that.
“I know that Simon will be able to help us stand out and communicate our authenticity.”

Simon Woodroffe said: “I’m really looking forward to working with James. I really respect the courage that he has shown in putting his business forward for this Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles scheme.

“People who are brave enough to take time out of their busy and already pressurised lives to put themselves in situations such as this, where there is a very real danger of failure, will in fact succeed.”