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Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen press release

YouGen founder up for Inspirational Woman and Green Business awards in Devon Venus Awards

Posted on 22 August 2013 at 10:09 am


YouGen founder Cathy Debenham has reached the final three in the Green Business and Inspirational Woman categories of the Devon Venus Awards. She will find out whether she has won at a grand awards ceremony in Exeter University’s Great Hall on 5 September 2013.

Cathy started YouGen in 2008, having noticed that it was difficult to get the practical information she needed to assess whether renewable energy was suitable for her house.  Since then, the website has had nearly a million visits, and 2.5m page views.

“Just being nominated in two categories of the Devon Venus Awards by other local business women and an employee was a huge boost,” said Cathy. “To reach the final three of both is amazing. I thought we had a chance of getting there in the green business  category, but to be judged an inspirational woman is a surprise and an honour.

“Of course, it's not just me that got us there. We have a small team, all of whom work from home. Everyone has worked really hard in a difficult market to help people make good choices about renewable energy and energy saving. It’s easy to get bogged down in the frustrations of an industry that is so reliant on government policy, so to have our work recognised in this way is a great reward for all of us at YouGen.”

Cathy faced a number of challenges in setting up YouGen: She came to the project with solid journalism, PR and marketing skills, but faced a steep learning curve: she needed to learn about renewable energy; government incentive schemes (which constantly change); how to run a business; and the rapidly evolving ways of communicating and doing business online. She found that traditional business advisors weren’t much help with the latter and has learnt by seeking out information online and by trial and error.

With a team of four women, all working part time, Cathy has made YouGen into a trusted brand in a new, fast growing, male-dominated industry. She is regularly invited to speak at events such as the Westminster Forum (for senior politicians and policy makers) and the annual solar power roadshow, and sits on some government industry working groups. Her twitter account (@yougenuk) has more than 6,000 followers.

Here’s what some of our customers say about YouGen:

“First to say how impressed I am with this site as a new member. I have learned more about solar energy in a shor while than in many weeks of hunting around. I wish I had known about it earlier.”

“Thanks for directing me back – I have now signed up and am finding loads of useful info. It is by far the best site I have come across.”

“By the way, your web site and news is the best; thank you for seeing needs so clearly and for your excellent style of writing.”

For more information or to interview Cathy Debenham email: cathy@yougen.co.uk or phone: 07786 440129.

Photos are available on request.

Notes for Editors:

Last week YouGen was placed at number six in Cision’s Top Ten Energy websites in the UK and last year it won the WWF green gamechanger category of the International Green Awards.

The need for YouGen (www.yougen.co.uk) struck Cathy Debenham in 2005, when she was doing up her house. There was so much information about renewable energy on the internet, but none of it answered the really practical questions she needed help with to be confident that she had chosen the right technology, the best product and a trustworthy installer. The idea just wouldn't go away, and eventually it grew into a business plan, a blog, and finally the full site was launched in April 2009.

The Venus Awards (devon.venusawards.co.uk)  started as the Langtry Manor Business women Awards and following its huge success in Dorset it was rebranded and the Venus Awards were born. 4 years later the founder Tara Howard wanted to recognise and reward women in business not just in her home county of Dorset but all over the country. Southampton was the first stop and after major success there the model was proven.

This year, 2013, Venus Awards has extended its reach in new regions and rewarding hundreds more business women across Devon, Brighton, Bristol and Birmingham


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