Innovation and enterprise blog

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

5 posts from June 2021

28 June 2021

Introducing Katherine Tinoco, founder of ArtPerÚK

This week we're shining a light on Katherine Tinoco, founder of ArtPerÚK; a business created to share Peruvian culture with the wider community in London and the UK, through the art and enjoyment of dance. ArtPerÚK burst onto the UK dance scene in mid-2019, offering Peruvian folkloric dance classes representative of the three regions of Peru: Coast, Andes and Jungle.  We spoke to Katherine about her business journey and experience with the SiLL programme.


'We believe that dancing is a great way to keep fit, happy and develop your self esteem. It is also a great opportunity to improve your wellbeing, you have the option to meet people and explore different cultures, whilst reducing stress and avoiding negative feelings. We do not just dance, we take you on a journey through the exploration of the wonderful culture and history of Peru, that will awaken your interest and curiosity for Latin American issues by several detailed choreographies.

The services ArtPerÚK offer are: 

  • Dance Classes for adults and kids (online and face to face group classes) 
  • Private dance classes (online and face to face classes) 
  • Performances at private, corporate events
  • Public performances  and community events 
  • Team Building activities 
  • Fitness workshops 

I've joined more than 10 online webinars and workshops, where I was able to learn more about how to reboot my business in this time of crisis.  The marketing workshop has really helped me to improve my social media presence on Instagram and Facebook, the finance workshop helped me understand how to manage tax returns effectively.  I was also able to enrol in several 1-2-1 meetings with a business expert, like Sophie White, who was amazing! She helped me align my ideas for the business and connect me with people to receive support on finance, and  helped me to promote my events. That’s why we were able to launch 2 workshops for the Croydon community, offering free dance lessons online. 

Free events are run every month for new joiners who haven't tried a lesson before, they can experience the classes and try them out to see if it's for them before signing up to one of the plans. 

We offer private and public dance lessons including online for the pandemic, and we've also performed at several corporate events to bring a a colourful taste of exotic Peruvian culture. 


We hope to present all our colourful choreographies in the near future to the public, with the traditional costumes that are such an integral part of Peruvian culture. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Youtube) where you can keep up to date with our latest offers, choreographies, tutorials, and flashmobs - when we can finally get out and make some!

My advice to anyone thinking of starting-up a business is to do a lot of research to make sure that your idea will work and manage expectations. Look at your finances for the initial years and the funding that you will need to operate well.

I learnt that as a women, mother and entrepreneur, we have to be resilient all the time and keep going. Using any trouble or problem as an opportunity to improve, see the glass half full and not half empty. As an entrepreneur, we faced lots of challenges and we need to see this to learn more and keep going with the same passion from the beginning.

Lockdown came at a really bad time for ArtPerÚK, when we were just starting to expand our physical classes and attracting interest through free trial dance classes around South London.  However, “every challenge is an opportunity”, and when lockdown was implemented, I reinvented the services and switched to online classes. Suddenly we were able to attract several clients to the classes. Online classes also allowed us to attract clients from outside of London, like Germany, Japan, USA, etc. This allowed us to expand our client base beyond physical constraints of having to be present in a certain place. Lockdown meant that people wanted to keep fit and maintain social contact, and that is what ArtPerÚK offered. While in lockdown ArtPerÚK launched more than 151 online dance lessons private and public, created several online challenges and driving awareness and participation. Ironically lockdown also made some things easier, by allowing people to dance from the comfort of their own home and not have to travel, which actually helped get a lot more participants.


For more on Start-ups in London Libraries and how to register for our upcoming workshop, visit

SiLL logos

24 June 2021

A week in the life of Silvia Pingitore, founder of The Shortlisted Magazine

And so, here you go. After taking part in plenty of brilliant one-to-ones, webinars and events at the BIPC covering a range of essential business topics, from IP to marketing to bookkeeping and sales, after speaking at Start-Up Day Reloaded workshop in April 2021 and after facilitating a case study about you and your business, you were eventually asked by the lovely girls at the BIPC to write an article about a week in your life as a media entrepreneur, journalist and founder of The Shortlisted Magazine.

Silvia Pingitore
Silvia Pingitore, founder of The Shortlisted Magazine

You try hard to figure out a typical week in your life but you cannot find anything that won’t entail purposeless references to exercising, housekeeping and how you do take your tea, especially because you don’t really drink any tea and you know this won’t grant you any sympathy in the land of Shakespeare.

You continue rifling through your life to try and find some kind of repeated structure to fill out a weekly plan, but your weeks and days really have nothing instagrammable to show off. No yoga classes, no vegetable smoothies, no healthy morning routines. Often, not even any mornings at all.

Life as a media business owner and journalist is just an overly-complicated mess, and you wonder what you could say to be useful to those who might be interested in reading this post. In the end, the sole business-related activity closest to a five-day disciplined programme that you may think of is the process of securing, arranging, conducting and publishing celebrity interviews. And so, here’s what a week in the life of a media entrepreneur and rockstar chaser looks like.

The Shortlisted Magazine selection of interviews

Monday After four weeks of extenuating email exchanges, follow-ups and phone calls, you’ve finally got a confirmed phone interview with some big music celebrity for this week, but you don’t know the exact day and time yet. They said they “would be in touch soon” and then they disappeared. You know they won’t be in touch and that you’ll need to follow up again, but not today. That’s your number one rule in business: never email people on Monday unless it’s to threaten to sue their customer service.

You spend the day reviewing your list of questions for the celeb and watching videos of their past interviews to get accustomed to their accent and style. You also spend a great deal of time sourcing, selecting, giving appropriate credit, optimising and compressing the pictures to go with the interview.

Tuesday Time for a follow-up early in the morning. Time to try to remember who you’re actually going to follow up with, which is not that obvious when you receive at least 70 pitches and press releases per day every single day and - for God’s sake - everybody seems to be called the same. You had this vague impression at some point that all the publicists out there had identical names and so you eventually ran a poll into your nearly 6,000 LinkedIn connections just to find out that it’s true: if you’re called Chloe or Alison, you’re 85% going to work into PR, just as you’re certain to be getting into recruitment if your name is Rebecca, Matthew or Adam.

When she receives your follow-up email on Tuesday morning, the PR girl sees your message and starts to panic. She suddenly realises that she kept you hanging since last Thursday. She thought she had confirmed the interview date and time at the end of last week. She responds immediately. She’s nice and everything, and you can gauge how guilty she feels based on the number of “xxxx” she uses to greet you.

You now have a day and time for your interview, which is going to be tomorrow afternoon. If the celebrity is really huge and you’re a fan, you definitely don’t want to get too excited and start fangirling around. If the celebrity is Robbie Williams or Roger Taylor, the above doesn’t apply because you’ve already fainted to the ground.

Either way, you decide to cool off with a range of tasks you hate. Social media is the king of the tasks you hate. Back in the day, you created a magazine logo with a little round face that could virtually be turned into anything, and so you transform it according to the social media days of the month, because when the world is crashing down, there is always going to be some urgent Pink Cake Awareness Week posting to do.

Wednesday Time is up and you’re getting more and more stressed out. You check your technical devices and internet connection relentlessly in the hope that nothing horrible will happen to you and your equipment as you dial the celebrity’s telephone number. You would love to have met them in person and regret not living in the good old days when you would just hop on a horse and travel the world without anybody or anything annoying you on your way up. Time flies. You get super excited. They’re just brilliant to talk to and you would like the conversation to last forever. You’re having the honour to speak with ladies and gents that have made the history of rock and roll; people who were once speaking to John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Freddie Mercury are now on the phone with you. How crazy is that? You are so happy. You send a thank you note to the PR girl saying that the conversation was amazing and the interview will be out by the end of the week. You’re so joyful that you spend the rest of the day doing accounting until 5am.

Thursday You wake up at midday completely devastated. The interview seems like a million years ago. The excitement is over. All that’s left is a 45-minute mp3- recorded file with a persistent noise in the background to transcribe, fact check, proofread, edit, refine, make SEO friendly and publish.

As you’re taking a painkiller to get rid of your terrible headache, the rockstar you just interviewed briefly appears on the telly. You start to detest them. Also, you’d better not forget that, in addition to the transcription, you’ve also got an introduction to write from scratch. Introductions really are your thing and you don’t want to disappoint the readers when it comes to that. For some reason, the more your interview openings have absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the interview - like the one with Andrea Bocelli, Moby and John Steel of The Animals - the more the audience seems to enjoy them.

You start transcribing the mp3 file using Otter, which is an amazing artificial intelligence transcription tool that takes most of the hassle out of the process for you but only works wonders if the speaker has comprehensible elocution, which is not something to take for granted when there are Americans involved. Once the transcription is ready, you’ll have to go all over it again and triple check everything word by word, following through with headphones. The worst part is when the chap starts making lists of names and places that sound exactly like hundreds of other names and places. You’ve got to double-check everything, hoping you’ll guess the correct spelling. The fact-checking part is enormously time-consuming and may well take even longer than the proofreading process itself.

Many hours later the interview transcription is done, but you still need to write the introduction. For a good introduction, you need some good inspiration. But you cannot go and buy a tin of inspiration at that time in the night, so you stay up and continue to work until the right introduction magically appears on the page.

Which is just when the sun is rising out through the window.

Friday, I’m In Love The Cure knew what they were talking about when they famously released their Friday I’m In Love song in 1992: it’s Friday morning, you did get three hours of sleep in total and look your ugliest, but you’re happy as a sandboy. The interview is published. Time to celebrate by picking the celebrity’s loudest song, blast it on the stereo and throw a party between you and the cat. Such a shame that, in fact, you do not have a cat. You’ve always wanted one. What’s more, people are loving your article. You can tell it from your Google Analytics data. Some even spend as many as 40 minutes reading on.

Followers are liking and sharing the post on social media and they also say that they love your introduction. The PR girl is over the moon and sends you lots of xxxx.

Mission accomplished. You can now sit back, relax and look forward to Saturday morning when you’ll have a great time yelling on the phone with the HMRC because of those missing paperwork you’ve been waiting for six months.


To read more of Silvia's interviews, visit The Shortlisted's website.

16 June 2021

Introducing Pranav Chopra, founder of NEMI Teas

We spoke to Pranav Chopra, founder of  NEMI Teas, a London-based tea company and a social enterprise that offers a variety of whole leaf Organic and Fairtrade tea blends both as loose tea and in plastic-free biodegradable tea bags whilst providing job opportunities to refugees living in the UK.

Pranav Chopra

'The social mission of the business is to lower the unemployment levels amongst the refugee communities, which sits at nearly five times the national unemployment level. Specifically, NEMI Teas is tackling SDG #10 of Reduced Inequalities by employing refugees across its business, this allows the refugees to boost their English skills, regain confidence and work on skills required to enter the UK job market. More specifically, the refugees are involved in running events, warehousing, packaging, social media and research work. This gives them the ability to have a UK company on their CV and a local referee who can vouch for their work ethos and ability.

A huge driving force that drove me to set up NEMI Teas to tackle inequality amongst refugee communities in the UK is really well captured in this quote by Pierre Omidyar that “everyone is born equally capable but lacks equal opportunity”. I am a migrant myself to the UK and I have seen how people have an unconscious bias about certain groups of people so it has been an area where I have always felt a pull towards making a change and ensuring we all in the UK have access to equal opportunities.

From a commercial perspective, NEMI supplies its teas at both a retail and a wholesale level across the UK, Germany, France and Scotland. NEMI’s core focus is the food-service industry and it is currently supplying to large corporates including PwC, Ernst & Young and SAP, as well as restaurant chains including Leon and Gaucho along with 300+ cafes and delis across the country.

NEMI Teas is also a leader within the sustainability movement as both its teabags and packaging are 100% plastic-free and compostable. Even the string attached to the teabag is by ultrasound and not traditional glue which has plastic. All the teas are Organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest-Alliance certified thus ensuring the farmers are paid a fair-wage.

The tea sector within the UK is very saturated however in comparison to our competitors and peers, I feel it is our three core values that we live by that make us exceptional:

  1. Positive impact: we conduct our business in a positive manner in all aspects be it the high-quality of tea; compostable tea bags; or the recruitment of refugees within the business.
  2. Financial success: we have a strong focus on business sustainability, as we won’t be able to make a positive impact on the community if we are unable to fund our operations and pay our employees.
  3. Product focus: we have a strong focus on ensuring that our products are unique, high quality and on-trend with speciality tea.

However we have faced several challenges along the way including funding, recruitment and most recently the pandemic. We have worked our way through these hurdles as a team and come out much stronger on the other side. And we are now at a stage where we have significant growth plans over the next few years to achieve our social mission target of empowering 1500 refugees by 2025.


NEMI Teas has been a proud participant of the Innovating for Growth program where we have received significant amount of business and legal support including IP as we looked to protect the recipe for our traditional Spicy Chai Syrup. Business strategy and marketing expert advice has also been invaluable as we looked to nail down our long-term business

My advice for any budding social entrepreneurs would be to really focus on clearly defining the vision of their enterprise along with developing a theory of change to map out the steps that will lead them to have the intended positive change on society. Lastly as part of Refugee Week 2021 NEMI Teas is partnering up this year with some amazing organisations such as Choose Love, Solidarity and Breadwinners, to showcase the talent of refugees living in the UK.'

08 June 2021

Nurture your ambitions with the Business & IP Centre National Network

Last year, the Business & IP Centre’s (BIPC) National Network was awarded a £13million investment, announced by the Chancellor, to enable the Network to expand.

Fast forward, and just over a year later and we’re bringing business inspiration and support to more people than ever before by growing the Network from 14 to over 100 libraries. Offering insights and access to free resources, training and events – both online and in-person – BIPCs in regional and local libraries around the UK, can help you imagine, start or develop your business.

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with an idea. While each Centre is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, they are brought to life by a tailored and highly individual programme of events, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs and community partners.

This support has been invaluable for over 26,000 business owners supported by the BIPC during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our recent annual survey, almost a quarter of users agreed that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the challenges of the past year. Over 3,600 business owners attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs affected.

Whether you’re just setting out, need advice on protecting your intellectual property, or simply have a brilliant idea you want to discuss, we’re here to guide you. To find out more about how you can join a thriving business community in your local library, visit our National Network page and find your closest BIPC.

01 June 2021

Beautiful Ethical's top tips for making your business sustainable

Sustainability is at the core of Tracey’s handmade beauty business. Beautiful Ethical is a company that offers natural and luxurious wellbeing gift boxes as a way for people to treat themselves or someone they love to positive self-care.

Founder, Tracey holding a Beautiful Ethical box

After losing her job during the pandemic, Tracey launched Beautiful Ethical to promote self-care, positivity, and mindfulness with an ethical focus. Read on to find out how she ensures sustainability remains at the centre of her business…

“I love animals and nature, so choosing cruelty free beauty products and making eco-friendly choices are a part of my everyday life and central to the Beautiful Ethical ethos.

Beautiful Ethical Pamper and Wellbeing Box

Since people like David Attenborough have highlighted the environmental impact we are having on our planet, I think that protecting the environment and living a more sustainable life has become something we’re all more aware of and people are now considering how they can make a difference. For me, starting a business that puts sustainability at its core was always a no-brainer.

All our products are cruelty free, vegan and handmade by small brands in the UK – helping us to keep our carbon footprint down and support the local economy. Our products contain natural ingredients and are made by hand, plus everything is made in small batches to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum. In addition to this, we also:

  • Look for products that use sustainable ingredients, such as soy or rapeseed in our candles and wax melts
  • Use eco-friendly packaging so that everything can be recycled, or is biodegradable or compostable
  • Use an environmentally friendly printing company
  • Offset our carbon footprint through Ecologi – an organisation that funds climate-positive projects around the world, including tree planting.”

Sweet Dreams Box

Tracey has used Business & IP Centre Leeds' services to access free resources and attend webinars and one-to-one sessions which have helped with "friendly, straightforward and practical advice in areas such as designing a website, social media and marketing”.

Find out more about Beautiful Ethical over on their website.