Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

5 posts from July 2017

27 July 2017

Great partnerships and life-changing experiences

It has been 6 months since the Business & IP Centre arranged our first match as part of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur Programme (EYE).   EYE enables new and aspiring entrepreneurs (of any age) in an European country to spend 1-6 months with experienced entrepreneurs in another European country.   We have helped 13 experienced entrepreneurs in the UK to host new entrepreneurs and sent two new entrepreneurs from the UK to other European countries, The countries involved have included Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Hungary and the hosts have come from sectors as diverse as marketing, training, publishing, IT,  architecture, environmental sustainability and retailing.

One of these exchanges involved Elpida Lambi from Greece and Merilee Karr in London. Elpida is a new entrepreneur who had a business idea in the events planning sector. Merilee is a founder of the highly successful UnderTheDoormat agency.  The exchange lasted 3 months during which Elpida learned from her hosts’ experience and Merilee had the benefit of new ideas, perspectives and all the energy that Elpida brought with her. 

Merilee said   “As an entrepreneur its incredible to be a part of this program and support the growth of cross-European entrepreneurship.   UnderTheDoormat is by nature an international business and Elpida is our second young entrepreneur.  We are so proud of her success and contribution”

Merilee and Elpida
Merilee and Elpida at the agency during their Erasmus exchange


Elpida said: “This program really targets people like me, young Europeans who want to work and make their own businesses but they don't have that opportunity. Joining UnderTheDoormat was the right call. An international company in hospitality where everyone was more than happy to teach me things. They trusted me with projects and important documents since the first day. I am really excited that they valued my work..”

Merilee and Elpida will work together closely in the future which highlights the long-term business relationships which result from so many of these exchanges. This positive experience has been echoed across many more of the exchanges in which we have been involved and it has been fantastic to be involved in something which has had such a positive impact and helped bring entrepreneurs across Europe closer together.

The Business & IP Centre is an Intermediary Organisation the EYE programme until the end of 2018 (maybe beyond) and we are always looking for applications from host entrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs. Hosts have to have been a business founder for at least three years and new entrepreneurs must have had a business for less than 3 years or have a clear idea for a business. Find out more information about the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.

19 July 2017

Top business advice from the British Library Scale-up Summit

The British Library welcomed over 130 ambitious businesses to the Knowledge Centre on Tuesday July 11th for its first ever Scale-up Summit, in partnership with London Growth Hub and Lucidica.

Attendees were able to pick the brains of over 20 entrepreneurs and business experts on issues such as building a brand, researching export markets, raising finance for fast growth and cultivating a top-team of employees.

If you weren’t able to make it on the day, never fear – we’ve rounded up the top-tips and advice from our stellar line-up of business brains here.

Raising your profile and building a brand:

The day kicked off with a session on how to get your business in the media and raise your profile. Julie Deane OBE (The Cambridge Satchel Company) and Will Butler-Adams OBE (Brompton Bicyles) gave a keynote exploring the strategies they have used to generate media interest in their companies.  Will and Julie were joined by Jenny Costa (Rubies in the Rubble), Siddarth Vijayakumar (Grub Club) and PR expert and Founder of JHPR Jessica Huie MBE.


British Library Entrepreneur in Residence Julie Deane

The top tips from this session were:

‘Believe in your business’ – Both Julie and Will stressed that, as a business owner, you have to have 100% passion, conviction and belief in your product. Passion is the secret ingredient that will help journalists and the media really engage with your business.

‘Know your customer’ - Before you can build your brand and make sure you’re getting it in front of the right people, you need to understand your customer really well. Jenny Costa recommended taking advantage of all possible sources of information to learn about who is most likely to buy your products in order to communicate with them most effectively. The Business & IP Centre provides access to all of the latest market research intelligence, reports and sector trends through its £5 million collection of business data and journals which you can use to get to know your customer.

‘Be authentic’ – There are no original business ideas, there are only original people, and as a business owner you are your own USP. Siddarth from Grub Club encouraged businesses to embrace their own authenticity to give their business a competitive edge.

Going global for growth

Delegates reconvened after a short break to hear from Paul Lindley (Ella's Kitchen) and Sean Ramsden (Ramsden International) about the challenges and opportunities of growing a business internationally, and how to stay in control when you do ‘go global’. After the keynote, Paul and Sean were joined by Bill Russell (Intellectual Property Office) and Matt Lumb (Tangle Teezer) for a lively discussion on how export can help you unlock your business growth.

Paul Lindley speaks about growing Ella's Kitchen internationally

Important advice from this session included:


‘People are more the same than they are different’ – Businesses can feel overwhelmed when considering entering foreign markets, and it’s easy to get weighed down worrying about differences in currency, cultural and social behaviour. However, our panel encouraged the audience to remember that, ultimately, potential customers across the world share more similarities than differences, and chances are that a good business idea will speak to people on a universal, human level. Businesses seeking to scale through export should have confidence in this fact.

‘Remember your WHY’ – Paul Lindley stressed the importance of remembering your overarching mission and objectives to help stay focussed as your business grows. Paul said that even though Ella’s Kitchen makes baby food, that’s not the reason the company exists. Rather, the company’s real mission is to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food: making baby food products provides them with the funds to keep on with their mission. Remembering the bigger picture helps to maintain focus when things are moving quickly in your business and you risk losing control.

‘Protect yourself’ – Although it sounds obvious, many businesses make mistakes when going global by not protecting their product and brand, exposing themselves to potential copycats and IP infringement. Before launching in new markets, businesses should check the IP protection they have and conduct an audit of what they need, ensuring that they minimise risks.




‘Go and visit’ – Astonishingly, business owners often think they can successfully grow in a foreign market without ever having set-foot in the country in question. There really is no comparison for field research, so if your business wants to expand globally don’t forget to travel, meet people face-to-face, have conversations and build relationships to give you the best possible chance of international growth success.

Raising finance for growth:

After lunch, the Summit moved on to tackle the thorny issue of finance. Helene Panzarino (author of Business Funding for Dummies) brought the audience up to speed on the current funding landscape, exploring the challenges and opportunities of funding a scaling business.  Next up Steve Moore and Paul Barham (Flight Club) took to the stage to share the amazing (and entertaining) story of how they raised finance to grow their social darts concept to two central London venues and 200+ employees in just three years.  Founder of Crowdcube Darren Westlake joined the panel and helped address a barrage of questions from businesses keen to understand more about the best ways to raise finance and minimise risk whilst scaling.

Top takeaways for raising finance included:


‘Know your financials (or find someone who does)’ – Business owners often shy away from finance, but if you are seeking investment you need to know your numbers inside out and be prepared to answer some pretty difficult questions on them. Investors and lenders can sense when businesses aren’t confident about their cash, are ‘winging it’ or – worse – are trying to conceal information. The key to successful fundraising lies in having confidence in the financial facts and understanding what they mean for your business growth.

‘Don’t be afraid of debt’ – There are lots of negative connotations surrounding debt, but it’s an essential element of any business growth and successful scaling-up is all about striking a healthy balance. Before you start to raise finance, work up a plan that sets out how much money you need and how much debt you’re comfortable with, and stick to it.

‘Find out what support is available, and use it’ – Whether your plan is to fund your growth through investment, crowdfunding or debt, there are plenty of public and private initiatives that can help to enhance your growth potential. Steve and Paul of Flight Club spoke in particular about the Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme, both of which helped their business to maximise growth whilst minimising risks.

‘See the bigger picture’ – Entrepreneurs are naturally protective of their companies, and this is especially the case when giving away stakes in the business to potential investors. However, it’s important to see the bigger picture and keep the end goal in mind. As Paul Barham said on the day, ‘it’s much better to have 40% of a really valuable business than 100% of nothing.’

Our panel discuss strategies for raising finance


Leadership for scaling business:

As we all know, most businesses start with just one or two founders, but as the business grows the team behind it needs to get bigger too, yet entrepreneurs often struggle when it comes to delegating and relinquishing control. For these reasons our final session of the day focussed on strategies and tips to help business owners build terrific teams. Rob Law MBE from Trunki gave a great keynote all about how the Trunki team grew from 1 to 80+ employees, and the strategies that helped them keep their team values, authenticity and – most importantly – fun at the heart of the business. Rob was then joined on stage by business and life coach Rasheed Ogunlaru, Irene Graham of The ScaleUp Institute, Simon Pitkeathley (London LEAP Member) and Adrian Philips (Bradt Travel Guides) to debate and answer audience questions.


 Here’s what we learned about building a terrific team:

‘Ask the right questions’ – When recruiting a new team member, it’s important to ensure that their skills match the role, but don’t forget to find out why they want to work for you and what they know about your business. Asking questions that focus on soft skills, personal interests and long term goals gives a much more accurate sense of whether a potential employee will add value to your business.

‘Listen to your team’ – When you first launch your business you’ll be taking care of every element of operation. However, as you scale and take on a more leading role in your company’s structure, it can be easy to unintentionally lose touch with what’s happening on the shop floor, or to assume that you already ‘know it all’ because you’ve been there and done it yourself. But scaling companies face very different logistical challenges and things will have changed over time. For this reason, don’t forget to take the time to regularly listen to your team members and be open to implementing their ideas and suggestions.

‘Create a culture of development’ – Staff stay motivated and committed to an organisation when they identify opportunities for professional development and feel they are being invested in. Offering perks such as training creates a more skilled workforce and reduces staff ‘churn’ as well as capitalising on accumulated ‘insider’ knowledge and expertise as your business grows.

‘Keep it fun’ – Rob Law said the best piece of business advice he could give is to ‘have a vision, share your mission and play with whoever turns up’ and this really encapsulates the sense of fun that is intrinsic to the Trunki brand. Keeping this sense of fun a visible part of your organisational culture – whether through team socials, competitions or celebrating success – boosts morale, keeps your team motivated to do their best for your business and ensures that you never lose sight of the reasons you started your business in the first place.


Rob Law responds to a question on leadership in scaling businesses

Attendees were also able to attend a roundtable forum with London Growth Hub to hear about other support available to help London businesses grow, and listen to closing remarks from Rajesh Agrawal (Deputy Mayor of London for Business) on the important role scale-up businesses play in building a more vibrant and prosperous city.

Scale-up Summit attendee Michael Murdoch (Founder and CEO of The House London Ltd) said "The Scale-up Summit at the British Library was fantastic.  It's amazing to hear stories from successful entrepreneurs who have been there and done that, plus there was a wealth of helpful and practical knowledge offered all at an affordable price!  Looking forward to more events like this in the future."


Attendees enjoyed a networking reception after the event


If you’re a growing business with big ambitions, you might be interested to apply for a place on Innovating for Growth - our three-month small business support programme which gives ambitious business access to over £10,000 worth of specialist advice. Applications are open now and the deadline is September 8th.


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10 July 2017

London is the place to scale up your business

Many of the guest speakers at the British Library’s Scale-up Summit event on Tuesday 11 July 2017, have launched, nurtured and grown their business while based in London. Household brand Brompton Bikes celebrates these London roots by saying they’re a ‘bike born in the city’. Other exciting London-based scale-ups on the programme are the founders of Grub Club and the award-winning Rubies In The Rubble and Flight Club social darts venues.

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Grub Club Founder Siddarth VijayaKumar speaking at the British Library's Inspiring Entrepreneurs event in October 2016


Further to the day’s programme of inspiring entrepreneurs’ talks and expert Q&A panels, will be an extra opportunity to find out about new projects and activities run by the London Growth Hub on behalf of the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and the Mayor of London.

Over the lunch hour we invite you meet London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) Member, Simon Pitkeathley, and find out what could deliver the next big milestone for your company.

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LEAP Member Simon Pitkeathley

Simon is the CEO of Euston Town and Camden Business Improvement Districts and CEO of Camden Collective workspace. Simon has extensive knowledge of the issues affecting SMEs and has also been appointed by the Mayor as the champion for small business as part of his role as a Member of the LEAP.

During this time - and throughout the day - the Growth Hub team will be eager to get your thoughts on how confident you feel about unlocking the huge opportunities that London based businesses can take advantage of, have a discussion about the LEAP’s plans to showcase, promote and support entrepreneurship and hear your ideas to help shape specific interventions aimed at the capital’s growth businesses.

We are also very honoured that the Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal (a fintech business owner himself having founded Xendpay) will be joining our Summit to give the event’s closing remarks.

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Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal

You can find out more about the London Growth Hub, business events and upcoming opportunities available at  

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05 July 2017

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

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


Reach your business peak at our Scale-up Summit

As a business owner you’ll know what it means to have to do everything and anything to get your business off the ground and flying. You’ve experienced the highs, the lows and no small number of frustrations along the way.

But at some point you’ll reach a limit to growth. And any one of these things (or more) could be holding you back; time, finance, being ‘too involved’ in the day to day, staffing challenges, cash-flow, finding new customers and markets, limited marketing and having to navigate ever changing conditions and trends.

But there’s a way through and beyond all of this; and it’s scaling-up.

The British Library’s Business and IP Centre has been supporting businesses to successfully scale up with its wealth of information, advice and support as well as the successful Innovating for Growth Scale-up Programme.

We’re thrilled to now be presenting this unique opportunity to get some of the best business brains in one place, for just one day, so you can hear first-hand how they kept their business flying and climbing higher. It’s our first ever Scale-up Summit, and it’s happening next, Tuesday 11th July, 9.30-6.30pm.

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We’ll be introducing you to the founders of some great household names and brands such as Paul Lindley (founder of Ella's Kitchen), Julie Deane OBE (founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company) and Rob Law MBE (Founder and CEO of Trunki) just to name a few.

Hear how our top-notch speakers kept their businesses going and growing through their various challenges and what tips they have to share to successfully scaling-up. There’ll be plenty of time to ask your questions and pick the brains of no less than 20 business experts appearing throughout the day.

Here’s a taster of what to expect on the day with a few of our speakers’ top tips to whet your appetite

Raising your business profile and building a brand

As you will already know, getting your business in the press or media can be the key to raising your profile and achieve rapid growth, but lots of businesses struggle to identify their unique hook and generate a buzz around their brand. Our panel will give you the inside track on how to maximise your media coverage, pitch effectively to journalists and create strategic partnerships to increase the visibility of your business to access new audiences and scale up.

Our keynote speaker on this topic will be Julie Deane OBE, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company and a Business & IP Centre ambassador. Having started from her kitchen table with a budget of just £600, The Cambridge Satchel Company now has a turnover of over £10million and has collaborated with the likes of Google and Vivienne Westwood.

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Julie Deane, Founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company and British Library Entrepreneur in Residence


Julie will share her own journey to business success and her tips for raising your business profile and building a brand. During this interactive Q&A session you’ll also have the opportunity to put your questions to our panel and get their tips and tricks for making people aware of your business and making sure they don’t forget it.

On brand and scaling-up, Jenny Costa (Rubies in the Rubble), another panellist for our branding roundtable says, ‘“Know your why.” The journey and the day to day can be overwhelming, so it’s important to keep looking up and focused on the end goal. Knowing and believing in what and why you do what you do will get you through any challenges you may hit along the way.’

Also speaking on this topic will be Will Butler-Adams (Managing Director, Brompton Bikes), Siddarth Vijayakumar (Co-founder, Grub Club), and Anne Cassidy (Editor, Guardian Small Business Network).

Going global for growth

Small businesses that seize on export opportunities are much more likely to survive and grow. However, with so many factors to consider, trading overseas can feel overwhelming and many business owners struggle to identify and exploit the market opportunities that would give them the best chance of achieving fast growth. If you’ve ever considered ‘going global for growth’ or are struggling to make your mark on the international stage, this discussion will give you a true insight into what it takes to trade successfully overseas.

Someone who has definitely capitalised on the potential of international trade is keynote speaker, Sean Ramsden, founder and Chief Executive of Ramsden International . Having identified opportunities for global growth, Sean was able to turn his food exporter business (Ramsden International) into a market leader, distributing over 23,000 British branded-food and drink products to 133 countries across five continents.  

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Sean Ramsden, Founder of Ramsden International


Another of our panellists Paul Lindley of Ella’s Kitchen says scale-up businesses should ‘Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.  Meaning stay humble, grounded and real, but don’t be afraid to imagine, explore and be free thinking.’

The panel will also feature, Matt Lamb (Tangle Teezer) and Bill Russell (Head of Bilateral Relations, Intellectual Property Office) who will share their experiences and expertise in both growing a business internationally and also ensuring that you stay in control and your Intellectual Property is protected as you ‘go global’.

Raising finance for growth

A cash injection can fast-track your growth ambitions exponentially, giving access to the resources, expertise and people-power that you need to realise your scale-up ambitions. But raising the necessary cash isn’t always easy and access to finance can often be one of the first hurdles that a scaling entrepreneur must overcome. In this section our experts will give their input on a variety of business financing options including VC, angel investors and crowd-funding to help you decide the best way to fund your business growth.

To discuss this topic and describe the best options available small business owners will be Darren Westlake, co-founder and CEO of Crowdcube the world’s first investment crowdfunding platform. In 2015, Darren was named by Debrett’s as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people and is a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience in the internet and telecoms industries.

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Darren Westlake, Founder of Crowdcube


Leadership for scaling businesses

Most businesses start off with just one or two founders, but as a business grows, the team behind it needs to get bigger too. But how can you be sure you’re hiring the right people to help your business reach its potential, and when is the right time to delegate responsibility? Hear from our expert panel on how your can build a terrific team with your business values at its core.

Leadership for scaling businesses will feature a key note presentation on the theme of building a terrific team, delegating responsibility, embedding and upholding company values and ethos as your business grows and providing strong leadership.

Our speaker on this subject will be Rob Law MBE, founder and CEO of Trunki , the brand behind the much loved children’s ride-on suitcase.

His company has been trading for 11 years, now employing 80 people and was named SME of the Year at the National Business Awards in 2012.

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Rob Law, Founder of Trunki


Focusing on these four key topics for scaling businesses, this event will provide a platform for entrepreneurs to ask the questions that really matter to you as a growing business. You’ll get practical, immediately implementable ideas and solutions from those in the know and have the opportunity to network with like-minded business-owners who share similar goals and ambitions.

Matt Lamb, CEO and co-founder of Tangle Teezer, says “I am happy to support the British Library’s Scale-up Summit because we recognise that scaling up is every bit as hard, if not harder, than starting a business. We are delighted to share our experience in the hope that it may help others.”

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to take your business to the next level. Tickets are selling fast so take this chance to get inside knowledge and advice on successfully scaling up and reaching your business’s peak potential.

Book your ticket to avoid disappointment.

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