THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

31 posts categorized "BIPC National Network"

15 October 2017

Innovating for Growth: London tours with a tasty twist

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Jennifer Earle, with her enticingly named Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, founded her business back in 2005 by doing the things she loved best; learning, discovering London, meeting new people and tasting delicious food, especially chocolate! We caught up with Jennifer, a recent graduate of the Innovating for Growth programme, to find out how her business started and to learn about an exciting new development that is underway.

Jennifer-Earle-Taste-Tripper-Founder-London

What was your background before starting Chocolate Ecstasy Tours?

I ran the tour's business alongside full-time work, including a role as a Food Buyer at Marks & Spencer and a Food Developer at McDonald’s. I was already writing about food part-time and from 2006 I started to get invited to speak on the radio and TV, as well as judge food awards and speak at events.

I finally began working fulltime on Chocolate Ecstasy Tours in 2013 and added more tours, more dates and more workshops and events – including teaching chocolate workshops in schools and running food innovation days for companies. The tours gradually became premium as the experience and knowledge of my guiding team increased and we reduced the maximum number of guests on a tour reduced to eight.

This commitment to quality was always going to restrict how large I could grow the tour's business. I really wanted to make something that could reach more people and promote more of the amazing food businesses we have in London, but in a way that still hit the core values of quality, discovery, effortlessness and fun. I’d been mulling over the options for years but the idea for Taste Tripper didn’t all click into place until one evening in 2015. I shared the idea with my husband who was so enthusiastic about it he wanted to get involved.

What makes Taste Tripper unique?

Taste Tripper is – as far as I know – the world’s first self-guided tasting tour business. Our Explorer Packs are a really effortless and a flexible way to discover part of London’s amazing food scene. The partner locations in the Taste Tripper Explorer Packs all offer something delicious for you, just for turning up! And, like a VIP, you get a special deal on any extra purchases, too. 

What we hope will keep us unique is our commitment to quality. We will only ever send people to places that we believe are fabulous.

What challenges has the business faced along the way?

Being a new concept meant that we had to convince businesses to work with us. Mostly in principle, this has been easy but, as we mostly work with small businesses that have a lot on their plate, it can take time to get them to send us the information we need and approve things.

We had some dire printing errors which were quite expensive and I don’t think we could have done anything differently to have avoided them.  We also had our trademark challenged by a big company which meant thousands on lawyer fees before we’d even made a hundred sales. There were tough decisions to make but we are proud that we stood our ground and won!

Through the British Library Innovating for Growth programme we had fantastic, honest feedback and we called our first customers for more of the same. It’s been so enlightening and inspiring and made us go back to the drawing board on quite a few significant things. It’s been quite frustrating that it has taken us some months to get the changes ready, but we hope to be bringing these big improvements to market in and finally start promoting the business again!

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What advice would you give to any small business owners thinking of developing a new product?

The most valuable thing for us was contacting customers and asking them to speak with us and give us feedback. The sooner you can do this, the better. Trying to sell as soon as possible will show you there’s a market. But then you need to ask those people who parted with money if they are happy and how they could be happier.

We probably would have benefited from discussing our ideas with more people and listening harder for their suggestions. But people will tell you different things so try to focus only on the things that keep being mentioned. It’s important to have the courage of your convictions over the smaller stuff, especially if you think you know your market well. 

I would also advise anyone that good products don’t happen quickly.  Whatever time span you had planned for launch or growth: double it. And maybe double it again. 

You grew the business with the help of our Innovating for Growth programme. What specifically did the programme help you achieve?

The honest feedback from experienced people was invaluable. It forced us to really look at what was working, what wasn’t and what was important. We got clearer on what we wanted the business to stand for, how we could communicate that and what changes we needed to make.  The technical advice for ensuring we have a watertight business was also brilliant and so useful.

During the three months we decided to change the redemption from tear-off paper strips on the cards to online redemption, whilst still keeping the attractive giftable Explorer Pack (it all seems so obvious now!) and we also decided to add a map to the homepage so customers could create their own London Explorer Pack. We’ll eventually offer neighbourhood Explorer Packs, too.  It really feels like we have a much more solid business with real potential for growth. I’m so excited!

Are you an ambitious business owner looking to scale up, like Jennifer? If so, Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality. Find out more and apply now.

13 October 2017

Business & IP Centre Norfolk opens its doors to the county’s SMEs

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The British Library is thrilled to welcome the latest addition to its network of Business & IP Centres – located in the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.

The Centre was officially launched yesterday on the 11th October 2017 and is now the eleventh city in this network across the UK – with free intellectual property and business information, training workshops and one-to-one advice available to local entrepreneurs; the launch of this new Business & IP Centre has been extremely well received.

At the launch event, start-ups from across Norwich heard from a special panel of the region’s successful food industry founders led by award-winning chef and founder of Charlie's Norfolk Food Heroes, Charlie Hodson. Questions were put to chef and restaurateur at Benedicts, Richard Bainbridge, Candi Robertson, founder of Candi’s Chutney, and Mike Deal, founder of Wildcraft Brewery, and were left inspired to develop their own enterprises.

BIPC Norfolk

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said: “The success of the Business & IP Centre model is evidence of the strong connection between libraries and business, and I’m thrilled to see this link reinforced again with the opening of a new Centre for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Norwich.

“Our vision is to create 20 such Business & IP Centres by the end of the decade, and I look forward to working with our city library partners to achieve this goal and to spearhead business growth and innovation in cities across the UK.”

Each Business & IP Centre provides an inspirational space for entrepreneurs to come together to network, attend events and access a wealth of resources including business databases such as Mintel market research reports, plus consumer data, trendspotting for the UK and worldwide as well as information on patents, trademarks, designs and copyright.  

The Business & IP Centre at the British Library opened in London in 2006. Since then it has helped more than 700,000 entrepreneurs and helped create an average of 550 businesses and 1,200 jobs every year.

Find out more about the services on offer at www.norfolk.gov.uk/bipcnorfolk, or follow Business & IP Centre Norfolk on Twitter @BIPCNorfolk

09 October 2017

Growing your business without burning yourself out

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Starting and growing a business can be exciting and very rewarding, and at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre we can help you to achieve all of your entrepreneurial goals. However, there are factors that aren’t often spoken about when we talk about the life of a business owner. Entrepreneurs typically dedicate long hours and lots of energy and effort to building their company and there is a risk that this can lead to burn-out unless care is taken. As today is World Mental Health Day, we would like to take the opportunity to challenge the assumptions about mental health and equip ourselves with the necessary tools to maintain balance.

Tom Costley, Operations Director for Mind in Camden, explains why he thinks entrepreneurs are sometimes at risk of developing poor mental health and suggests some practical tips and strategies that entrepreneurs can employ to protect their mental wellbeing and maintain a work-life balance.

Mind

Why might there be a risk of an entrepreneur experiencing issues with their mental health?

Entrepreneurs typically have a high sense of purpose, meaning and drive in their lives, and this is actually great for positive mental health.  However, there can be a downside to this if the drive to succeed comes at the detriment of other things which help keep us in balance.  For example, if building the business becomes the only focus of the entrepreneur’s world and they pour all their energies into it, then they risk neglecting some other important factors which help sustain their good mental health, such as our personal relationships or downtime for relaxation. Often entrepreneurs can feel so driven to succeed that they imagine they are immune to the consequences of neglecting their wellbeing and ignore tell-tale signs and symptoms.  Lack of sleep, for example, can lead us to feel irritable and frustrated and affect our decision making.  Business owners may feel we can ride through this and carry on working, but ultimately it will negatively impact on how effective they are in their business and on their chances of success.  For example, they might unintentionally be snappy with an important client, forget an important deadline or experience ‘brain fog’ and lack of clarity when making an important decision with long-term implications.

Entrepreneurs can also be emotionally high-risk takers, investing 100% of themselves in their business to the extent it becomes an extension of their personal identity and it is difficult to see where the business ends and the person begins.  We see this a lot currently as the trend for social media and video content creates an expectation for business owners to be more visible than ever before, which creates additional pressure.  This may not be a problem when the business is working well and experiencing success, but should the business then take a dip that entrepreneur can find that their self-esteem is so closely entwined with their work that they experience a disproportionate reaction and fall into a ‘slump’.  This is why preserving a sense of self which is separate from the business is vitally important in enabling us to ride through challenges and maintain perspective.

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For an entrepreneur, having their identity very closely connected to their business can also compromise their emotional honesty.  This may be particularly true for people who are at the early stage of building a business when the appearance of success and confidence is everything and we are taught to ‘fake it until we make it’.  Of course, there is an element of this that may be necessary as part of a business strategy.  However, to safeguard against becoming disconnected from reality it is important to have someone who you can be more revealing with, and share what is really going on: your fears and anxiety as well as your hopes and ambitions.  This might be a great friend or partner, or perhaps even a mentor figure or a counsellor.  Whoever it is, make sure you allow time in your busy schedule to connect with them.

What are the warning signs of poor mental health that entrepreneurs should look out for?

It’s important to remember that mental health is personal: it’s about understanding ourselves. We all have different warning signs which may indicate to us that we are heading out of balance.  One useful way to approach this is to be aware of how we are when we are feeling ‘ok’ and then to consciously monitor ourselves if we feel some of these things are noticeably worse. Typical warning signs that things are tipping in the wrong direction might include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Altered sleep pattern or lack of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of confusion or compromised ability to make decisions
  • Levels of sociability
  • Sense of connection to those close to us
  • Ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ and maintain perspective

It’s important to take account of our individuality when monitoring our mental health; we need to compare ourselves to what is healthy and normal for us rather than for other people.  For example, whilst social contact is important for good mental health, we all thrive off different levels and types of social engagement depending on our personalities.

Do you have any tops hints and tips that you could recommend to help entrepreneurs/business owners look after their mental health more effectively?

Again this is personal, so knowing yourself is essential.  Identify what keeps you resourced away from your business and ensure you build in time to do this with full presence and commitment.  Preserving time to switch off and be with the important people in your life, or simply spending time doing something which gives you joy and helps you connect with life beyond work, really can make all the difference.  This could be a sport, gardening, walking, reading or just being with friends and family.  Because they don’t keep set working hours, business owners can have a tendency to feel tremendously guilty about taking time out for themselves. In order to commit to doing this, you may need to keep reminding yourself of the benefits:  switching off from your business every once in a while will increase your creativity, give you renewed energy and ensure you are keeping fully charged in order to make your business a success.

25 September 2017

10 things we learned from Start-up Day 2017

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Last week The British Library's Business & IP Centre held Start-up Day 2017.

The day was filled with inspiring events and engaging workshops from speakers who share their well-earned wisdom with a crowd of budding entrepreneurs and business owners.

This year we held 18 different events, each filled with information and advice on how to turn an idea into a business, covering every topic you might need, from how to write that all-important business plan, to tips for managing your cash flow.

Hopefully, you managed to pack in as many of the talks as possible and just in case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the information you absorbed over such a small amount of time. We’ve got just the thing to help:

Here are 10 things we learned from the day which we believe are vital takeaways for anyone looking to make a start in business.

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Anything is possible

Julie Deane OBE founded her company The Cambridge Satchel Company with just £600. It’s all she had spare to get started and she’d made a promise to her daughter that she wouldn’t have to go back to her old school that September. It was already June. Julie had plenty of hints and tips for the audience and although she has a firm belief that “your life is more than what you wear or the bag you carry,” she has created her brand based on a passion for British manufacturing and a product that will last customers a long time, making it a cost-effective purchase.

Julie’s talk on how she started her business from her kitchen table was not only moving but demonstrates that almost anything is possible when you’re as determined as she is.

Pic 2 - Julie Deane

Test your ideas first

You don’t have to immediately pack up your 9-5 and risk all your savings when you have an idea for starting your own business. In fact, many of the speakers encouraged staying comfortable while you plan and test your ideas first. Nigel Spencer, Research & Business Development Manager at The British Library, gave an insightful workshop, based on a regular offering at the Business & IP Centre, on where to take your business idea next and how to plan for its future.

Nigel recommended some of the fantastic tools available for free from the Business & IP Centre such as a Business Model Canvas that you can download, and then tailor to your business model revealing any gaps you might not have addressed yet.

Pic 3 -  Nigel Spencer

Know your worth

Anis Qizilbash’s entire talk focused in on this important reminder for start-ups and people who are venturing out into the world of business. She encourages people to employ her strategies and challenge their fears around charging the right price for their services or product. “Don’t think about the money you’re going to make, think about the impact for the customer… make it about the difference you can make.” Believing that you are charging a fair price and remaining confident in the face of a difficult sales pitch is no mean feat – but this talk left everyone feeling empowered and ready to charge their worth.

Pic 4 - Anis Qizilbash

Find people who believe in you

“If I’d have told my mum that I was going to Mars on a rocket ship she would have replied “oh, how interesting, when?”” said Julie Deane. She used this as a great example of finding people who will truly support you as you make your idea into a business reality.

Neil Daly of Skin Analytics echoed this in his panel discussion on Profit with Purpose. When he asked his wife if he should work a normal 9-5 that brought in enough money but made him miserable, or follow his passion to diagnose skin cancer earlier, but run the risk of money being tight, she reminded him that “you’re a miserable bugger when you’re unhappy at work, so go for your passion.”

A common theme across the day was a need for self-confidence and belief in your ideas, but equally important is finding the people you can rely on when it isn’t going perfectly. Having someone who thinks your ideas are worth fighting for is crucial.

See your competitors as free research

Keye Oduneye from Google Digital Garage kicked off the day with his talk on How to Build a Social Media Strategy with an interesting take on how to view your competition. “see them as free research. They’re either doing something you should or doing something you shouldn’t. Learn from them and be inspired by them.”

When there’s someone out there doing something similar to you, or trying to reach a demographic that you’d like to tap into, keep a close eye on what they get up to online. Use it to decide what you might do with your next campaign on social media and keep the creative juices flowing.

Pic 5 - Keye Oduneye

Social media is a powerful tool

As demonstrated by the live Twitter feed that had #BIPCStartUpDay trending by the afternoon of the event – social media is a force to be reckoned with. Keye Oduneye’s talk highlighted just how many customers use it to reach brands for swift responses to customer service queries, get the latest news from their favourite companies, and ultimately decide where they might spend their money.

Keye gave a thorough breakdown on the sort of things you should be sharing with potential customers and how important it is to see social media as a powerful influence to build a brand and reflect the kind of business you want to be seen as from day one.

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Networking is key

Life coach, author, and speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru led an interactive workshop on ‘How to network for business success’ that was full of useful takeaways for everyone. “If I don’t meet, I don’t eat” was one such important reminder – although networking might seem nerve-wracking, meeting people and promoting your business is key to earning money from your product or service.

It certainly helped to be surrounded by people that have already started or are thinking about starting their own business all day, and plenty of business cards were exchanged throughout the event, but networking is more than just a brief connection we learned. Even if you connect with someone who might not seem like they can help you with your business, they might know someone who can. Rasheed urges people to “collect good people” that you can share values and ideas with to help grow your business and make it a success.

Pic 7 - Rasheed  Ogunlaru

You won’t always get it right

Setbacks are part of life and business. We can plan ahead, but sometimes we make mistakes and that’s natural. ‘How to get your business in the media on a budget’ was less of a how-to workshop than it was a lesson in how to face the potential pitfalls when you’re promoting your company. Jessica Huie runs an award-winning PR company and knows a thing or two about how to get your business into the media spotlight and create a positive buzz around what you do, but she also reminded us that it’s ok for it to not always go your way. “you are not for everyone and everyone is not for you” was the mantra, and setbacks ultimately teach us something in the long run. You will attract the right audience if you are authentic, do your research, and always seek to understand your customer better.

Pic 8 - Jessica Huie

Focus on pleasing your customer and you’ll always make money

There is a lot to consider when you’re starting out in business or working out how to turn a great idea into one. Budgets, planning, PR, social media campaigns, and networking are just a few of the plates you’ll be juggling – and sometimes all at once. The topic of Tim Campbell MBE’s talk could not have been more appropriate for the day as he shared his thoughts on ‘Staying Alive – How to get motivated when growing your start-up’. How exactly do you stay motivated and keep cash flow steady with everything else going on?

His advice was simple – focus on the customer. Don’t chase the materialistic aspects of the business as much as you concentrate on delivering what your customer expects and more. By focusing on providing the best service and product, always innovating and “delivering with quality” Tim promises you will always make money.

Pic 9 - Tim Campbell

The Business & IP Centre is a fantastic resource

Julie Deane not only inspired with her story of setting up her business with minimal funds, she also shared some interesting stats. She revealed that businesses that engage with the Business & IP Centre are 4 times more likely to succeed than the ones that don’t, and as we learned from Nigel Spencer, there is a whole host of tools at your disposal to help plan and test your business. From free or low-cost workshops to online guides that cover numerous topics, it’s in your (and your businesses) best interest to check them out.

Days like Start-up Day are just a small taste of what you can achieve with the British Library’s Business & IP Centre. So, if you have a great idea and want to set up your own business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team. You can also check out our list of upcoming workshops and events to get even more great advice and support for your great business idea. 

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Start-up Day was sponsored by Virgin StartUp, Google Digital Garage, and The European Union Regional Development Fund

20 September 2017

Start-up Day 2017 live webcast: find out what you can tune in to

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Over 20 master class talks are set to take place at Start-up Day tomorrow, Thursday 21 September, with over a thousand aspiring entrepreneurs joining us at the British Library to take the next steps to launching a business. If you won’t be able to join us, some of the sessions will be webcast live for you to watch from home.

Here are the times to look out for:

9.30 – 10.15
Google Digital Garage: How to build a social media strategy

Learn from Google how to optimise your online presence using the power of social media.

You’ll get a run-down of the best social media platforms to use in 2017, plus your trainer will explain how to create a social media strategy that delivers the right goals for your business. We’ll cover the importance of defining a set of marketing guidelines too, so you can always stay on brand and on message. You'll learn about:

  • Making your business's social media presence known
  • Developing rich, engaging content for social media

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10.45 – 11.30
UK2: How to get your business online

In this workshop, Sara Rego, Marketing Director at leading web hosting and internet services company UK2 Group, will take you through some practical tips for maximising your online presence and raising the profile of our businesses with a great site. He will share common pitfalls to avoid and also explain how making some small changes to your business’s online presence can deliver tangible results. Content includes:

  • Getting started online
  • How to get a website that works for your business
  • 5 Common Web Design Mistakes
  • Website optimisation

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12.00 – 12.45
Julie Deane OBE: How I started a business from my kitchen table

In 2008 Julie Deane – the Business & IP Centre’s ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ – started a business at her kitchen table with a budget of £600 budget and the aim of paying her children's school fees.

Fast forward eight years and the Cambridge Satchel Company is a multi-million-pound business that has five stores and sells products all over the world. Hear this incredibly inspiring story from Julie herself, and pick up some hints and tips that will help you grow your start-up idea into a global brand.

 

1.15-14.00
Virgin StartUp: Losing my entrepreneurial virginity

In less than four years Virgin StartUp has helped 2,000 people change their LinkedIn profile to read ‘business founder’. In that time over £24m has been distributed to help each one of them turn their great business idea into a reality. These people are now running businesses the length and breadth of the UK, from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of John O’Groats in the Scottish highlands. In the session you will learn:

  • How to apply for a Virgin start-up loan of up to £25,000 at a rate of 6% fixed p.a.
  • What you need to know before you apply
  • How to ensure you write a great application
  • The unique package of support that you can get alongside the cash
  • Plus the opportunities that might come your way from being part of the Virgin StartUp community

 14.30 – 14.50
Margot James MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility  will share a keynote address on ‘The Importance of Start-ups to the UK Economy’ followed by Q&A with the audience


14.50-15.25
Tim Campbell: Staying Alive: how to keep motivated when growing your startup

Nobody ever said that starting and growing a business was easy! Whilst the rewards can be great, new businesses inevitably must face and overcome numerous obstacles and setbacks on their path to success, some of which they couldn’t ever have predicted when they set-out.

Winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and Founder of Bright Ideas Trust Tim Campbell shares his insight on how to stay focused on your endgame when you’re traversing the trials and tribulations of business start-up, and gives some top hints and tips on how to stay positive and motivated throughout the highs and lows of your own personal business journey.

 15.45-16.30
Expert Impact Panel: Profit with Purpose

Big business doesn't have to be 'bad', and a successful start-up can still make a big social impact

This event, in partnership with Expert Impact’s ‘Human Lending Library’, will give you hints and tips for unlocking the ethical impact of your start-up and balance profit with purpose. The session will benefit those wanting to start or grow a social enterprise, or those that want to improve the social impact of their existing businesses and for those interested in the topic. Our panel comprises:

Neil Daly, Founder of Skin Analytics

Paul Singh, Founder of Equal Education

Jo Godden, Founder of Ruby Moon

16.45-17.45
Start-up Stars: How I bit the business bullet

Our panel of business owners will talk candidly about taking the plunge from an employee, to self-employed, to employer, what they’ve learned along the way, what they wished they had known before they started, and why it was all worth it in the end. You’ll leave armed with practical insights, and feel more inspired than ever to turn your business idea into a reality.

The panel comprises:

Zoe Watkins of Livewire Kitchen

Rob Pitman of Tinderflint

Frankie Fox of The Foraging Fox

 To join in with any of these inspirational and practical talks simply register for our webcast. We will also be live tweeting as the whole event unfolds so be sure to follow us on #BIPCStartupDay to add your own comments and questions for the speakers.

Start-up Day 2017 is being held at the British Library in London as well as across 15 other city libraries in the country from Norwich to Newcastle. It is being run with support from our Event Partners the Google Digital Garage and Virgin Startup.

Virgin StartUp - Logo - RGB   DW_Logo_UK_EN_Horiz_Colour (4)

15 September 2017

The three tech steps every start-up business should know

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With our national Start-up Day events on Thursday 21 September fast approaching, we are working with our specialist staff and many of our external partners to pull together the best advice and practical know-how to help make your jump to becoming a business founder as easy as possible.

Most start-ups are likely to have a website before their first customers and as such will need to think about delivering a secure and compelling online experience for those precious new clients. Written with help from our partner Lucidica, here are our top 3 factors to consider as a start-up, alongside choosing your brand name, fundraising, and staff.

  1. Make sure your data is safe and secure

As a start-up, data is crucial to the growth and development of your business. The idea of losing your data could cause long or irreplaceable damage to a business of this size. However, it’s had to find the right data backup solution for your business with so many options on the market and also with the need for it to be cost efficient. Intermediaries such as Lucidica can advise you and tell you which applications we’ve used and found to be effective and we will also implement these systems and ensure your data is safe. It’s always best to talk to an expert and find out what options you have, especially when it’s a technical subject you may find intimidating.

One such example is Cerberus who is a firm of commercial investigators specialising in assisting clients to protect their businesses and brands. They received help on how to share contacts, calendars, files, tasks and other company data not just within the London and the international offices, but also available to investigators on investigations from worldwide sites. They also needed to ensure that all data was backed up off-site.

  1. Get the best efficiency out of our tech equipment and systems

In your start-up years, technology solutions need to save your business time and also be cost effective. Whether it’s your email provider, technology equipment or other technical applications, they need to be scalable, adaptable and affordable for your business. A lot of retailers offer small businesses and start-ups special rates, even if they are run by an individual.  Lucidica is a Microsoft gold partner and reseller and also a Dell partner meaning they can give you the best deal on technology solutions.

Mango Logistics Group is a London based logistics company handling courier and storage needs for customers from consumers through to FTSE100 enterprises. They have eight computers and have been a client since 2009. Lucidica provided a virtual web server along with managed email hosting within a split Linux and Exchange environment.

        3. Have a plan to fend off cyber-crime and attacks

With more than 70% of cyber-attacks targeting small businesses, it is crucial that your start-up is protected. Cyber security is constantly on the rise and is becoming a profitable business for hackers. This means that businesses of all sizes are increasingly placing more priority on protecting their business and data. Not only can an attack cost you a substantial amount of money to fix, it can also lead to hours/days unable to work and files that cannot be reclaimed.

Make sure that you seek advice on what security best practices will help your business without making your work processes convoluted. Some of the questions you could plan to ask are:

  • How to identify the potential security flaws in the company and whereabouts it is likely hackers may penetrate to
  • How to create a practical data recovery plan
  • How to get a template to run a security audit
  • Where can you relocate important data

Quite often, the biggest cyber security breaches could have been prevented by the smallest changes. However, thanks to the Business & IP Centre’s new partnership with Tech experts Lucidica, we will pass on the advice you need to make the changes before anything can happen. Look out for upcoming workshops held in the British Library.

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Lucidica is really well placed to offer this advice as they started small themselves – with Thomas Jeffs helping out businesses as a one-man-band in 1999. Thomas discovered he loved empowering businesses to use technology more effectively to help them grow and turned his passion into a business. Since then, Thomas has amassed an enormous amount of experience in helping over 1000 small and medium businesses solve their IT problems.  He’s gathered a team of expert engineers and support staff to help him deliver his vision. You may have even taken part in a workshop in one of his popular training sessions in the Business & IP Centre.

We are really pleased to say that some of the Lucidica team will be with us for the London Start-up Day, at the British Library on Thursday 21 September 2017. They will be on hand to answer any IT and technical questions you may have and offer their expertise advice on getting your business online and optimised.

05 September 2017

Profit with Purpose – Can you make money whilst also making a difference?

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The days of profitable business meaning a heartless, soul-less, money-grabbing monolith are long gone. These days, more and more businesses are seeking to make a genuine social or ethical change. Whether through innovation, environmental conscience or simply ‘giving something back’, and in sectors as diverse as food and drink to Fin Tech, the best new businesses know the value of an integrated approach both in terms of consumer appeal and growth prospects and the rise of social enterprise shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, a recent Business & IP Centre survey revealed that 60% of respondents stated that making a ‘social and/ or environmental impact’ was an important motivating factor for their strategy.

In response to this trend, Expert Impact and The British Library Business & IP Centre have partnered to launch a new series of events which explore the question ‘can I make money and still make a difference?’

The new Profit with Purpose series will involve engaging evenings of stories, advice and lessons learnt from entrepreneurs who have created impactful businesses in sectors ranging from the food and drink, education and retail to the healthcare, sciences and tech., sharing their personal experiences of starting and growing a business that has made a positive impact or social change.

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(Cemal Ezal)

Our first evening, ‘The Tastemakers’, takes place on Wednesday 6 September and will be chaired and introduced by award winning business coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru. Throughout the course of the evening we’ll be hearing from a diverse panel of impressive social entrepreneurs:

  • Cemal Ezalfounder of Change Please, a coffee social enterprise, run in connection with the Big Issue, empowers homeless people with the skills, equipment and speciality beans they need to become fully-fledged baristas
  • Jenny Dawson Costa – founder of Rubies in the Rubble, creating award-winning condiments from fruit and veg rejected for being too ripe, the wrong size or a bit ugly. Others see rubble, they see rubies
  • Shaz Shah – founder of Harry Specters, an award winning chocolate company that creates employment for young people with autism
  • Jamie Crummie – co-founder of Too Good To Go, an app that makes it possible to order delicious food from local restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other food businesses, collect it up to an hour before closing time and enjoy on-the-go in an environmentally-friendly TGTG sugarcane box.

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(Jenny Costa-Dawson)

As well as top tips, you can expect the founders to share entertaining insights like their biggest mistakes and to provide answers to your most pressing questions; build on their experience to achieve your own success and improve your social impact.

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(Shaz Shah)

Kendra Walsh, Programme Director at Expert Impact added:

We are delighted to be working with the British Library to deliver this important new event series. Expert Impact helps social entrepreneurs to scale their work and their impact. We do this by connecting them with those who have done it before; advice, support and pertinent introductions from successful entrepreneurs can play a huge part in generating success.

The Business & IP Centre offers a perfect environment where businesses can receive impartial support, learn new skills and get access to a wide range of valuable data and resources which enables them to launch their idea more quickly and make a bigger social impact’. 

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(Jamie Crummie)

The Business & IP Centre are thrilled to support this new initiative to encourage more start-up businesses to consider the social and ethical impact they can make as they turn their business dreams into a reality. Come along on Wednesday 6 September to hear word of wisdom from our ‘Tastemakers’ and don’t forget to check back to our website to be the first to find out about forthcoming events in this series.

 

29 August 2017

Are you a business virgin? We’ve partnered with Virgin StartUp to support new business ideas around the UK

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On Thursday 21st September, the British Library is to co-ordinate a Start-up Day taking place across eleven UK city libraries through the Business & IP Centre network. The event is set to be the largest national effort to help turn fantastic ideas into business realities, with over 3,500 aspiring entrepreneurs predicted to take part in over 100 sessions over the course of the day. Joining us in this huge effort are our event partner Virgin StartUp, a start-up loans provider, who themselves have lots of experience in funding and mentoring. We are delighted to be working with them on our Start-up Day 2017 campaign, and here’s why.

 

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In less than four years Virgin StartUp has helped 2,000 people change their LinkedIn profile to read ‘business founder’.  In that time over £24m has been distributed to help each one of them turn their great business idea into a reality. These people are now running businesses the length and breadth of the UK, from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of John O’Groats in the Scottish highlands.

2,000 is a big number, but behind it are thousands of ‘ones’.  One person, with one goal, striving to live out one dream. Such as Cemal Ezel, who took out a £25,000 start-up loan from Virgin StartUp to launch his coffee business Change Please. He used the funds to buy his first mobile coffee van which was managed by a homeless person near London Bridge who he trained to be a barista. Fast-forward to today and that business now has multiple vans across London and the U.S. which are exclusively run by homeless people, providing training, income and stability to help lift them off the streets.  As part of this journey, Cemal won an all-expenses paid trip to Necker Island where he was mentored by some of the best social entrepreneurs in the world including the one and only, Sir Richard Branson.

Cemal Ezel

Another ‘one’ in the 2,000 is Melanie Goldsmith, co-founder of Smith & Sinclair who also received a £25,000 start-up loan, plus one-to-one guidance from a Virgin StartUp mentor. Melanie used the loan to produce her first product – an alcoholic fruit pastille. That first batch flew out the doors and the company are now manufacturing much larger volumes with products listed in Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and more!

These are just two of the thousands of entrepreneurs who’ve taken a Virgin StartUp loan from ranging from £500 - £25,000 per co-founder. These loans are funded by the British Business Bank and given at a fixed rate of 6% interest pa over a 1-5 year period. Every single one of those founders has also been given access to their own locally-based mentor. Virgin StartUp mentors commit 15 hours of face-to-face support over a 12 month period. Even though a lot of people first think about the loan, it’s the mentoring that makes a real difference to the success for your business.

Like the British Library, once you become part of the Virgin StartUp community other opportunities do crop up. At Virgin StartUp, founders and businesses can take advantage of a whole range of activities including the popular scale-up accelerators, the most recent being ‘Platform-X’, which linked up with Virgin Trains to find start-ups who had ideas that could impact on the future of train travel and improve customers’ experience.  Five of the entrepreneurs we took onto that programme are now developing offerings with the likes of Virgin Trains and the Department for Transport.

Working with big businesses is something that we, like Virgin StartUp, urge start-ups to do. Winning contracts with corporates can give a small business the platform it needs to thrive. A recent attendee on the ‘Doing Business with Big Business’ event was Jamie McCloskey of Love Corn. Since going along he’s managed to secure deals with a whole host of retailers for his roasted corn snack product, including big high-street players such as WHSmith and Sainsbury’s.

Virgin StartUp will be at all our Start-up Day events and will be running a special master class in London at 1.15pm. This is free to attend but make sure you book your place soon to secure your seat as places are filling up fast! Come along on September 21st to find out how Virgin StartUp can help you take the first steps on your business journey. Don’t forget to check out the full programme for the day too, which features advice on a whole range of business topics including marketing, cash-flow management, building a website and implementing a social media strategy, all designed to help you turn your great idea into a booming business.

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24 August 2017

Le Bun: Not your average burger van business

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Street food has grown in popularity over the last few years and many entrepreneurs have taken the opportunity to create their own foodie empires. One such company is Le Bun, a street food business focused on delivering quality burgers with a French-American twist. We caught up with one of the founders, Tim Talbot, to hear how it all started and find out how Innovating for Growth helped them to reach new heights.

How did you come up with the Le Bun concept? A French-American burger is pretty unique!

My business partner, Andy, and I used to cook for friends whenever we could. We both worked in the music industry, he was in a band and I was a Tour Manager. We both had a couple of weeks off early in 2014 and so we got together to make some food.

For a change, we wanted to challenge ourselves to come up with a concept. Andy suggested Thai or this idea he’d been thinking about, French American. He’d noticed both French food and American food were deeply rooted in slow cooked foods. What’s the most American dish you could have? A burger. The most French? Bourguignon. So Le Bourguignon Bun was our first creation and, still to this day, signature dish.

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When did you realise this could become a business?

Originally, we were just playing around with the idea of maybe doing a street food stall on Acklam Road in Notting Hill, whenever we were both off tour, for fun. We were both totally in love with the Street Food scene back in 2014, with the emergence of Breddos, Smokestak, Bleeker and Bobs Lobster.

The weekend we came up with Le Bourguignon, I got my brother, a video director, to film us messing about in the kitchen. We ended up putting a two minute video on Youtube. The next day, I had Jamie Oliver’s production team messaging me asking if they could come and film us. I thought it was one of our mates winding us up!

Three weeks later, we were in a house being mentored by Gizzi Erskine and filmed for a Sky 1 TV show. By the time it had finished, The Times Magazine had done a 6 page spread on us, Street Feast had offered us a pitch to open their summer season in Dalston, we’d shot our food with David Loftus (Jamie Oliver’s photographer) and the show was about to air on Sky 1. We didn’t really have a choice but to keep going! It was a massive learning curve.

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What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?

So many. Festival organisers taking you for all you’re worth and not selling enough tickets to their events (despite telling you they are sold out). Running out of cash and managing cash flow. Trying desperately to avoid wasting food after a poorly attended event. Staffing. Every day in the food industry is constantly a challenge, especially if you are moving about and “popping up”.

You were a part of the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme. How did that help with the business development?

It massively helped. It made me consider things in a more strategic way, whilst giving me the opportunity to take time (literally) out of the business to think and chat with like minded people on the programme. The tutors were incredibly supportive, informative and sensitive to the challenges of running a business. I found the whole experience incredibly positive and on a personal level, it has given me the confidence to step away from the operations of the business and allow myself more time on business development.

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How are you planning to celebrate National Burger Day?

Alongside the greatest burgers in the world. We’ll be at Street Feast’s Hawker House in Canada Water for Mr Hyde’s National Burger Day. We’ll be hanging out with Bleeker, Honest Burger, Lucky Chip and Mother Flipper, to celebrate the insane quality of burgers we have in London.

What’s next for Le Bun?

We’ve been working hard, after a few setbacks, to find the perfect location for our first restaurant. We’ll also be focussing in on private events, which allow us to budget and cost control more effectively than public events.

Are you an ambitious business owner looking to scale up, like Le Bun? Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality. Find out more and apply now.

05 July 2017

How Intellectual Property helped Julie Deane start a £10 million business from her kitchen table

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So many small businesses lack IP awareness and understanding, but IP is something of an unsung hero and can prove critical in making or breaking a business.

The Business & IP Centre team are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and SMEs understand what IP is and why it’s important, what IP they might have created and how they might increase their business success and profitability by protecting and exploiting that IP in the future. Over the years the team have supported thousands of small businesses unlock the value of their IP, and much of the support we provide in the Centre uses case studies and real-life stories to demonstrate how having a handle on your IP gives you a huge commercial advantage.

One such example is Julie Deane OBE, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, who has taken her business from the kitchen table and a £600 start-up budget to a global success story with a turnover of £10 million. Along the way Julie has overcome numerous business challenges including managing designers, manufacturers and overseas distributors, establishing web and physical retail sites around the globe and dealing with thousands of imitator brands. Here, in a free 30 minute podcast with the Intellectual Property Office, Julie lays the truth bare on how she’s developed strategies to tackle copycat websites, build the brand, keep putting the quality of the product at the heart of the business and “hang on to the passion that made you start the business in the first place.”

 

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 Here are our 3 ‘top tips’ for what you need to know when it comes to your Intellectual Property:

  1. Think about trade marks - Is your business name protectable in the countries that you wish to trade? Is it already being used or does the word have another meaning in a different country. Future investors will want to know that you have the rights to trade in the countries that they wish to trade in, and you need to consider this right from the start to give your business the best chance of success.
  2. If you’re creating a ‘thing’ - Do your research before filing for a patent; is there a market for your product? It is expensive and takes a long time to protect your idea so make sure you do your market research and can be confident that somebody will buy it at the end of the day. If you have paid for your product to be patented and want somebody to manufacture it for you, you also need to ensure you have agreements in place limiting their rights to your initial idea or design.
  3. Founder’s agreement - It is easy to set out a document with your business partner right at the start when setting up your business agreeing things like % of ownership and what should happen in the case of a dispute, or if one of you wish to sell then business and the other one doesn’t. Once a dispute has started it is much harder and messier so you need to make sure all parties are clear on this from day one.

You can find further help, support and information on IP in any of the eleven Business & IP Centres up and down the country, including the British Library in King’s Cross. Speak to any one of our specialist staff face-to-face, over the phone or by email. You can also log on to our free of charge online workshops to grow your knowledge about IP, and increase your chances of business success.

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Julie Deane in the Business & IP Centre

Julie Deane is Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library and a huge champion for ambitious business owners. She recently gave advice and practical tips on Intellectual Property at the Library’s Scale-up Summit alongside Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles. Cambridge Satchel and Brompton recently launched a range of colour-matching bags and bikes where the satchel fitted perfectly to the handlebars. This ‘made-in-heaven’ brand match caught the attention of the press and delivered extremely high sales. Will and Julie's opening keynote presentation on ‘Getting your business in the media’ was a great success too.

 

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The Cambridge Satchel Company / Brompton Bikes collaboration