YouGen founder up for two prestigious Devon Venus Awards

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.”

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