Two alumni entrepreneurs from Cranfield School of Management’s Business Growth Programme have won national recognition.

Ben Meldrum’s Professor Puzzle company was named as the 39th fastest growing privately-owned British business in this year’s Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, with sales of £8 million, representing a 77% rise over three years.

Ben, who attended Cranfield in 2015, learnt how to make traditional metal puzzles from a Kolkata street seller while travelling after university, which he sold on a stall in London’s Covent Garden. His company’s metal and wooden toys and puzzles went on to sell through retailers including Marks & Spencer and US bookseller Barnes & Noble.

Dr Veronica Burke, BGP Programme Director, said: "The BGP team at Cranfield would like to congratulate Ben in achieving his place in the Virgin Fast Track 100, published in the Sunday Times. We wish Ben and the team at Professor Puzzle every success for the future"

Meanwhile, fellow-BGP alumnus Angus Thirlwell’s Hotel Chocolat recently scooped a National Business Award. Angus won the Lloyds Bank Mid-Market Business of the Year, and collected the award with co-founder Peter Harris.

The judges remarked that: “Hotel Chocolat was a standout winner in this category. Not only has the company established a strong and aspirational luxury chocolate brand but it has also successfully rolled out its retail stores both in the UK and overseas. In addition, management have successfully executed an IPO in what can only be described as a backdrop of volatile market conditions. As an innovative company with a strong growth trajectory the judges were of the opinion that Hotel Chocolat is very worthy of the accolade of Mid-Market Business of the Year.”

Cranfield’s BGP is the UK’s longest running and most successful programme for the development of owner-managers. It has been running for more than 25 years, helping over 2,200 owner managers achieve their business and personal ambitions.

BGP alumni prove their metal to enjoy sweet success
Cranfield’s Dr Steffi Hussels at the National Business Awards with Angus Thirlwell (right) and Peter Harris (left)

About Cranfield University

Cranfield has been a world leader in management education and research for over 50 years, helping individuals and organisations learn and succeed by transforming knowledge into action. We are dedicated to creating responsible management thinking, improving business performance and inspiring the next generation of business leaders. We work to change the lives of our students and executives by encouraging innovation and creative thinking, as well as the drive to succeed and make a real impact on their organisations.

Organisations as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems, Royal Dutch Shell, L’Oréal, UNICEF and the African Development Bank have benefited from our work, which ranges from management research projects, through staff talent management development on our MBA courses, to customised executive programmes.

Cranfield is one of an elite group of Schools worldwide to hold the triple accreditation of: AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (the Association of MBAs).

We are in the Top 10 International Business Schools in the Forbes’ ranking.

Our open and customised executive education programmes are ranked in the top five in the UK, according to the latest Financial Times survey, and in the top ten in the world for international reach. Over 10,000 people come to Cranfield each year to benefit from our executive and professional development programmes.