ECHO readers have just three days left to vote in our annual entrepreneur competition.
Business leaders Will Ryles, from Dovcor, a bathroom suites specialist, and Jerri Murtagh, founder of Echo23 social media and PR consultancy, are currently going head-to-head in a public vote in the final stage of the If We Can, You Can (IWCYC) challenge.
With web and text voting closing at midnight on Sunday, time is running out for readers to register their support.
Today, the pair made their final pitches in a bid to take the title.
Will, 24, who opened his firm in Riverside Road, Sunderland, a year ago, said: “It has always been a dream of mine to achieve in my career.
“Initially, at university, I strived to work in a large corporation, getting a real insight into business operations.
“Believing that I had the capabilities to provide insight into business, I came to the natural conclusion that I would set up on my own.
“I think winning something like the IWCYC challenge is all about inspiring the region’s youngsters into business by improving skills in the workforce through apprenticeships.”
Jerri, also 24, set up Echo23, based at the Business and Enterprise Park, Wearfield, in 2009.
“Having worked in both a PR agency and an in-house environment after completing my degree in PR, I noticed a gap in the market for a company which specialised in social media PR,” she said.
“I decided to set up Echo23 shortly after my 23rd birthday and have worked to grow and develop the business and our core services to ensure we are at the forefront of the industry.”
Jerri said winning would allow her to gain crucial support from competition organisers the Entrepreneurs Forum.
The two finalists beat stiff competition from three other top entrepreneurs, who were shortlisted from more than 100 entries.
ECHO readers can now cast their vote by texting “Vote”, followed by the name of their chosen finalist, to 07624 803199. texts will be charged at normal network rates.
Alternatively, vote online at www.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk/ challenge by clicking “Vote” on the profile of the person they want to win.
The figures will then be combined with the judges’ scores to determine the overall winner. over the four-week voting period
Voting closes on midnight, Sunday, June 19.
The winner will be announced later this month.
As well as becoming the Echo’s Face of Entrepreneurship for the North East 2011, the winner will receive a prize package including business mentoring and guidance.