THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

2 posts from December 2018

18 December 2018

What a year it's been at the Business & IP Centre

In the last weeks of 2018, we are taking the opportunity to look back at all the highlights in preparation of yet another prosperous and busy year at the Business & IP Centre. From expanding our National Network, to our biggest ever Start-up Day and truly inspirational guest speakers at our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events, this has been a year to remember. Here's a look back at some of the successes and key achievements in 2018 both for the Centre and among our network of users, supporters and partners.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs 

Our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events are always a highlight, but in 2018 we welcomed speakers ranging from the founder and CEO of Square and Twitter, Jack Dorsey to the Queen of Shops Mary Portas.

The year got off to a great start back in February when we delivered our first Inspiring Entrepreneurs of 2018, focusing on successful online businesses and heard from Tom Adeyoola, Founder and CEO of Metail, Rikke Rosenlund, Founder of BorrowMyDoggy, Karen Hanton MBE, Founder of Toptable.com and Sara Murray OBE, Founder of confused.com but more recently Buddi and Non-Executive Director of Bohoo.com. Each of them had plenty of advice for the audience of budding entrepreneurs. 

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We gathered a panel of experts at Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Internet Icons who have all made a success of running a business online, to find out what helped or hindered them. Photo: British Library

Our journey into tech-enabled entrepreneurship and a digital future for small businesses continued when Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of payments firm Square got together with the brilliant Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, founder of social enterprise STEMettes for an evening of empowering conversations on anything from tech, machine learning and cryptocurrencies to the future of the economy. For the benefit of everyone who wasn’t as lucky as us, we have compiled the highlights of a fascinating, in-depth discussion about things as big as the future of the economy and as intimate as the personal journey of an established entrepreneur from a childhood fascination with maps to the lasting impact of disrupting more than one industry, on a global scale.

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Jack Dorsey on Square: Our purpose is to build simple tools that empower and enable people to participate in the economy. Photo: British Library.

But we didn't stop there. In July,  Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Feelgood Founders brought together Liz Earle MBE, Mark Constantine OBE, Co-founder of Lush, Simon Duffy MBE, Founder of Bulldog Skincare for Men and Sherille Riley, Founder of Nails and Brows Mayfair Boutique who shared the stories behind their well-known health and beauty brands. Other Inspiring Entrepreneurs events this year featured Women Mean Business, Black Britain in the Creative Industries and last, but not least a candid conversation with Mary Portas. You can visit our YouTube channel BIPCTV to catch-up with highlights from all these, and more.

 

Our biggest ever Start-up Day 

In September, we delivered the biggest Start-up Day to date – a nationwide event delivered across our network of UK libraries designed to give aspiring entrepreneurs all the information and inspiration they need to take the first steps on their business journey. Some of the highlights on the day include activities in 17 libraries around the UK, 101 business events delivered, more than 1,000 attendees across all locations and webcast views from around the world. Start-up Day, in collaboration with Santander, once again proved to be a huge success.  You can catch our highlights and keynote presentations here.

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Start-up Day 2018. Photo: British Library.

 

A growing network of Corporate Partners

We are committed to working with a network of professional corporate partners and to sharing information on their relevant services and support with our network. 

It was on our Start-up Day campaign that we once again worked closely in collaboration with Santander Breakthrough, who attended each separate event and provided well received extra guidance on navigating business finance. It’s been extremely valuable to tap into the Breakthrough events programme and we’ve met some exciting and inspirational founders through our events together, including Becky Slater from Shine Creative Solutions and Wendi Lai of Lonbrella.

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Santander at Start-up Day 2018. Photo: British Library.

Of course this just gives a brief flavour of what we’ve been getting up to this year and there’s much more to celebrate, not to mention expanding our National Network of Business & IP Centres by launching services in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Glasgow and Nottingham during 2018 too. We’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all of our users that launched their business or continued to expand it in 2018, and to our partners and speakers who supported them in their achievements. We look forward to working with you all in the year ahead to help your business go from strength to strength.

10 December 2018

Contemporary twists on traditional festive gifts

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas so we decided to catch up with some of our Innovating for Growth alumni whose businesses become even busier over the festive period to get their take on seasonal trends, consumer behaviour and to see what they are offering this year... 

Mellissa Morgan, co-founder and Company Director of Ms. Cupcake in Brixton, has found that traditional flavours remain popular, but are wanted in contemporary and innovate ways, "Big successes this year have been our Stollen Muffin, which is a light and fluffy take on the traditional German treat. Our Mince Pie Squares have been a big hit with our B2B clients, flying off the shelves of their establishments”. 

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It’s also a great time of year to be playful, as Mellissa has seen with their ‘Grinch’ Chocolate Mint cupcakes. 

That’s not the only change in consumer habits Mellissa has noticed. Consumers’ lifestyle choices have also impacted on Ms. Cupcake, “Veganism has been on the rise over the last two years and retailers both big and small are taking note! When we opened the UK’s first vegan bakery back in 2011, we were a novelty. Now that vegan foods have become a firm fixture on the high street, we are in great company!. 

From food to feet... ChattyFeet, co-founded by Gil Kahana, is a brand of quirky, pun-filled, character socks, Gil says, “Here at ChattyFeet, we're very excited about Christmas. We love the Christmas lights, mulled wine and spending time with people we care about. The festive season can get pretty intense so we're also looking forward to chill out in January”. 

Their sock characters, however are causing mischief... Yayoi Toesame insists that ChattyFeet’s Christmas tree will have only circular shapes! Can you imagine? Is it a bit dotty or perhaps she's right? 

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Ernestoe Hemingway is doing OK apart from his constant demands. He wants ChattyFeet to let people know that he doesn't want any more books for Christmas (on social media)... Apparently he has enough books to read until 2020! 

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And lastly, a bit of an embarrassing one... If you bought Mr. Grrrril socks between 2017-2018, ChattyFeet need to warn you about a possible issue... Some customers sent us evidence of Mr. Grrrril opening up the presents early. 

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It sounds like ChattyFeet have a demanding bunch on their hands feet, but they aren't the only ones with a sense of humour. Rosie Tate, designer of cards and gifts at family-run business, Cath Tate Cards has a range of traditional and humorous Christmas cards. With the rise of digital communications, we asked Rosie if the trend of sending Christmas cards was in decline, “The rise and rise of the internet, email, text and social media might make you think traditional paper greeting card sending was dead, however this is not the case. In 2017 100 million single Christmas greeting cards were bought and in addition, an estimated 900m Christmas cards were sold in boxes and packs”. 

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Rosie add, “Every person in the UK sends on average 33 greeting cards a year. A text or an email is just not going to cut the mustard for Aunty Brenda at Christmas! A paper card is an obviously more thoughtful gesture. 

Which gets us thinking, we should probably make a start on writing ours... 

If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of these entrepreneurs and believe your business has what it takes, is based in London and has a turnover of £100,000 or more, why not apply for Innovating for Growth: Scale-up and take your business to the next level? Register your interest for our next intake today.