Sue Nelson

Entrepreneur | Investor | Broadcaster | Speaker | Artist

FROM ZERO TO HERO

About SUE

Born into inner city poverty against a backdrop of racist and misogynistic 1960s Britain, Sue finally ‘made it’ becoming a self-made multi-millionaire at 59 years old. Admittedly slower than some entrepreneurs, but she got there in the end.

After working for 35 years as a highly successful designer, illustrator and marketeer specialising in brand development, she decided to set up her own company with her best friend's daughter, Brady Last. They started in her small conservatory on two laptops and with a large stash of Yorkshire tea bags. The kids had left home and at 54 years old, so she thought she should do something risky for once in her life.

She put her entire savings into starting a business even though there were no clients in sight. Sue wanted to use her design and illustration skills to develop her own brand, one that had design and her quirky humour at its heart. She convinced Brady to join her in this one last hurrah.

The sector, which in her opinion had the least amount of wit and verve, was accountancy. The most visually boring area inside that? Tax. So naturally she set up a tax company. Bright orange and lime green instead of the industry standard of blue, blue and more blue, pervaded the office. Her own signature art plastered its walls. Marketing materials, social media and the website featured ducks (really) and steampunk instead of the cheesy stock photography of beautiful models pretending to be business people gazing out of expensive office windows.

Accountants laughed at them, banks wouldn't give them an overdraft (never mind a loan), and rivals tried to put them out of business. Five years later it was sold to EY, that big multi-billion pound turnover company who just loved the staff and the brand.

How did she build a buy-out in such a short time and from scratch? Hiring people with no qualifications. Designing the logo, marketing materials and website herself. Starting a radio show (wtf!), co-founding a women's business group, sponsoring charities and writing a book or two, among other things . . .



BREAKTHROUGH FUNDING

By the end of 2019 Sue's team had secured £60 million in cash or tax benefit for over 1,000 small businesses, creating at least 150 new jobs in the process. They did it in just 5 years. Read the remarkable story of their success.

PEOPLE ARE EVERYTHING

How a team which included a British Army sniper fresh from Afghanistan, a zookeeper, an office cleaner, a dental receptionist, a failed call centre worker and a window specialist officially became the UK's Best Independent Tax Consultancy Firm.

SOCIAL IMPACT

Sue built the Breakthrough brand by prioritising its social impact. Strong financial performance was essential but being a truly good corporate citizen brought hugely profitable results and attracted the best people who wanted to share that culture.

FOODTALK RADIO

The famous weekly podcast celebrating all things food and drink. Sue as lead presenter, has recorded 288 episodes to date which sadly involves tasting a lot of delicious food and alcohol.

BREAKTHROUGH WOMEN

In 2016 Sue set up Breakthrough Women with Deborah Turner, a biannual event for businesswomen dedicated to giving them more confidence and raising their visibility in the workplace.

TECHTALK RADIO

Sue has interviewed tech trailblazers on her TechTalk Show from Dr. Sue Black, the saviour of Bletchley Park, to Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK and Maggie Philbin, former presenter of Tomorrow's World.

PUBLICATIONS

In 2017 Sue wrote and published FoodTech UK to make a case for the UK as the centre for foodtech innovation and to attract inward investment to the UK. This brings her tally to ten published books.

TLA FOODTECH

Inspired by the work of Russ Shaw in setting up Tech London Advocates, Sue founded the TLA FoodTech Working Group to create a collaborative community of UK organisations involved in Food Tech.

EY INCENTIVES

EY bought Breakthrough Funding on 31 March 2020. The same great team is in place headed as ever by Brady Last. Such global presence is helping to spread the social impact still further.

PHOTO ALBUM

Speaking, broadcasting, winning awards and meeting truly inspiring people

Speaking at the TLA Global Summit in London | On BBC News at Ten with Huw Edwards | With Prue Leith | With Brady and Naga Munchetty

With Kate Adie | Presenting the FoodBytes London event in 2019 | Interviewing Maggie Philbin | On ITV News Live in Liverpool

Recording FoodTalk | Presenting at the Oxo Tower | On 5 News being interviewed by Kirsty Young | At the Every Woman Awards

Being interviewed by Simon McCoy on Sky News | With Monika Brinton of Brindisa | Arguing with Ollie Lloyd in the FoodTalk studio | On the BBC Six O'Clock News

At the IoD with Declan Curry | Laughing with Ollie Lloyd in the FoodTalk studio | On Granada News with Gordon Burns | Launching FoodTalk UK with Russ Shaw

With our incredible MD, Brady Last | Publicity shot for my first ever book | With Brady being presented with the prestigious Tolley Award by Jeremy Vine | On BBC Breakfast News

With Marcus Wareing | Brady and Louise Minchin with my Director of the Year Award | With James Wong | Being interviewed by Ann Widdecombe on Sky News

Working with Keith Floyd | Winning the Most Promising New Business | With the legendary Madhur Jaffrey | On the front cover of Global Women Magazine

With Willie Harcourt-Cooze of Willie's Cacao | Interviewing Tamara Lohan, founder of Mr and Mrs Smith | With Asma Kahn of Darjeeling Express | With Dr Sue Black, saviour of Bletchley Park