A PEEBLES-based start-up business has had a run of luck after scooping the top prize in a national competition.

Gutzi, which creates energy-boosting sports food, won £20,000 of business support including a cash injection of £5,000 at the 2017 New Start Scotland Exhibition.

Owner Lucy Colquhoun, a distance runner who has represented Scotland and Great Britain, held off stiff competition at last year’s event to claim the first prize which has helped her build her brand of her savoury sports food.

Lucy’s business was born out of having been an ultra-runner for over ten years during which she has clocked up running distances up to 100 miles around the world.

During events she suffered from terrible stomach problems and could never find suitable food which tasted good, stopped nausea and gave enough salts for endurance events.

She said: “This is why I launched Gutzi, it is vital to keep re-fuelling during races which can last all day, sometimes even several days and I knew there wasn’t a snack product available for endurance sports which was portable, palatable and also easy to digest.

“After discussing this with other athletes, I discovered I was not the only person to find a problem with nutrition in sports, so I decided to do something about it.”

She initially funded the business from her savings, along with help from the Interface scheme, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Bank of Scotland Accelerator Scheme.

She said: “The main reason I entered the New Start Scotland competition was for the funding, I knew I had a good idea but initial funding is vital for any new business in the early days; to validate the idea, establish the company legally, and help with branding and so on.”

Winning the award has allowed Lucy to build the Gutzi brand and fund product development trials with manufacturers and product testing with athletes.

Lucy explains: “Winning the New Start Scotland competition last year was such a huge boost to my business, both in terms of much-needed funding and exposure.

“This enabled me to build the Gutzi brand and invest in marketing materials for exhibitions and web development, and more crucially it funded product development trials with manufacturers and customer testing.”

“Since winning the award I have had a very busy year and have so far reached over 800 athletes to test our products, which has given me invaluable feedback.

“We have invested in product development with manufacturers and are still finessing some recipes as the transition from kitchen to factory always poses huge challenges.

“We have now built up a strong following amongst endurance cyclists and runners, and our research confirms the demand for savoury sports fuel.

“We have been shortlisted for GBEA awards and invited as a Trailblazer Business to the European Sports Nutrition Association. Gutzi is also endorsed by Commonwealth Games cyclist, Isla Short.”

The £5K pitch competition will again be taking place at this year’s New Start Scotland exhibition, where budding entrepreneurs will each get five minutes to pitch a business idea to a panel of judges.

Lucy adds: “The advice I would give to other small business owners is make sure you connect with the community - there's a wealth of knowledge and support out there, from talks to mentors to grant schemes.

“Scotland is by all accounts one of the best environments to be a start-up and everyone is very generous with their time. A cup of coffee with a useful contact could unlock all sorts of doors to your business.”

The New Start Scotland exhibition and the Scottish Business Exhibition will take place on November 21-22, from 10am - 4pm daily at the SEC, Glasgow.