Innovation and enterprise blog

66 posts categorized "Growth"

16 March 2022

The Women Breaking Barriers in Business

Female founded start-ups represent a growing share of investment activity – in the UK in 2011, only 11% of start-ups were women founded and by 2020, this number had risen to 32%. In the male dominated space of entrepreneurship, women founders are often underestimated and overlooked; while we have made progress, there’s still more to be done. To mark Women’s History Month, we’re delving into the experiences of two entrepreneurs we’ve supported to learn how they overcame discrimination in business.

First up is Innovating for Growth alumna Eleanore Richardson, who alongside her mother, Teresa, owns Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic.

Eleanore on the left with mum, Teresa on right in their clinic in Fulham

“My mum certainly has some stories of working as a black female entrepreneur and as I have entered the business with her in the last five years there are a few things that have brought me back down to reality in terms of the challenges that women face in business.

My mum has worked in the hair industry for the past 45 years. She moved from working in a salon to working from home as a hairdresser when she started her family; part-time availability for hair stylists wasn't a realistic career and banks wouldn't lend her the capital to open her own salon. She worked out of our utility room and bathroom for 30 years and with that income, sustained two children (and our many after school activities), a mortgage and bought a flat in Portugal.

Over those years, the banks slowly offered my mum an overdraft for her sole trader account but she never used it because she had always associated debt with poor financial management.”

When Eleanore was studying for her A-Levels, Teresa also stepped back into her own studies and re-qualified as a Trichologist. Soon after qualifying, she found a retail space that she could run her clinical practice from. However, even though she was a successful business owner for the past 35 years, she was asked for a guarantor to support her retail lease application. Financially independent and in her fifties, she didn't find this appropriate, but was forced to compromise by signing an eight-year lease with no break clause instead.

Upon realising that their business was making enough money to register as a limited company instead of a sole trader, Eleanore and Teresa went to several banks and opened a business bank account. Whilst one bank was happy to offer them a sole trader account with a £12,000 overdraft, the only business account they were keen to offer was with a £2,000 overdraft. They eventually went with another bank that offered a measly £6,000 overdraft and meant that their cash flow was still too tight to invest in growth.

Several years later, Teresa was ready to move clinics and they were in a position to develop their clinic hair care range into a product range ready to be sold to retailers. Despite presenting a business plan in an effort to increase their £6,000 overdraft, the bank turned them down. This made no sense to Eleanore, “I had been offered bigger overdrafts as a student earning nothing, yet here was a successful business that made money every year and had never had to dip into an overdraft, had grown organically year after year, and yet credit options were non-existent.” They postponed development of their range for three years out of fear that the investment would deplete their cash flow, and there were no obvious alternatives to financing that weren't fraught with high interest rates.

Fulham Scalp and Hair has also been operating in Luanda, Angola, which is Teresa’s birthplace. There she has a loyal customer base who have grown with her over the years but many customers and onlookers still don't understand how a business like theirs can generate enough interest and enough revenue to fund a satellite clinic in Luanda. “Rumours of my mother having a wealthy benefactor are always amusing, but depressingly remind me that the expectation for women to run a successful, international business is still questioned.

Last year an investor in Angola who was keen to buy a stake in our Angolan business propositioned us. When negotiations began, it emerged that he was only going to accept a majority stake in all of our business holdings internationally and was going to establish his own solicitor as a business consultant with a 5% stake. The mind boggles at how foolish they must have assumed an older black woman and her younger daughter must be.

This I find is the most common theme being a woman in business, and it hasn't really changed from the time of my mum starting her own business through to me joining and leading it. Women continue to be underestimated in their own businesses, and this seems to be particularly brutal for women of colour or for very young (looking) women. For mum she had been underestimated by so many of the services and employees previously hired, that it was a relief to work with her daughter who she could completely trust and not be on her guard with. Personally, I have had to correct solicitors, landlords and accountants on their own work and have even had one rep from an organisation ask if I need to chat with my "mummy" before signing off on membership.”

Our next business is The Fermentation Station, founded by Amy and Sam who received support from BIPC Liverpool in relation to their trademarking. We spoke to Amy to learn how her experience as an entrepreneur has been different to that of her partners’.

Amy (on left) and Sam on blue backdrop

“Being a female business owner has its advantages and disadvantages. In Liverpool, having access to support through The Women's Organisation provides many advantages to being a female business owner in the city, but I believe this is a privilege that many don't receive.

Whilst it wasn't impossible to be a female business owner 30 or 50 years ago, the challenge was much greater than what we see in 2022. Things have certainly come a long way but we still have a lot of progress to make in how we view women in business.  I often think my Nan would have achieved even more remarkable things during her working years had gender roles been different back then. She was an outstanding woman with a genetic eye condition that she never let stand in her way.”

It is also important to encourage young girls into entrepreneurship, when Amy was in high school the only future presented to her was one of academia. “We were told that it was a safe route into employment that meant that we didn't need to rely on a man - can you guess I went to a single sex school! Whilst I am eternally grateful for the solid upbringing they gave me, the option of becoming an entrepreneur was not one that I was encouraged to explore. I think often this causes 'impostor syndrome' as we feel we aren't skilled for the role, whilst men are more likely to take the leap without second guessing whether they’re qualified to do so."

Having been a Company Director for six years between The Fermentation Station & H2A, Amy has built up confidence to present herself as a business leader and leave the impostor syndrome at the door. When asked about whether she has noticed a difference in the way she is treated by investors, suppliers or clients in comparison to Sam she pointed out that unconscious bias is always at play.

“I believe that many think that Sam is the driving force behind our business – that's until I open my mouth, and he is often granted commendations for behaviours that I perform regularly. When we have been challenged with difficult customers or stockists, who are unprepared to acknowledge or accept my response, I have now resorted to responding to them by pretending to be Sam; you would be surprised how quickly their tone & response changes when they believe it's a man they’re speaking to.”

Overall though, the advantages of being a female founder outweigh the disadvantages, Amy has been the company director of a mother-daughter team and a male-female team which have both been incredible experiences for her. “I think it's completely dependent upon the personalities of your fellow directors or founders, and with both businesses I held close personal relationships. Sam and I work well together not because we are different genders or sexes but because our working styles complement each other.”

18 February 2022

BIPC Style Guide

As London Fashion Week A/W 2022 comes to a close today, we’re feeling like it's about time to update our wardrobe! Stuck in a rut with your wardrobe too? Maybe you're feeling inspired to create runway pieces at home? From shoe making classes to vintage inspired clothing, we have BIPC businesses that are transforming the fashion industry to help pull you out of your rut. Find out how below

 

The Fold Line

Kate and Rachel sewing on a machine in their home/studio

The Fold Line is an award-winning online sewing pattern shop. Founded in 2015 and based in the UK, they are the home for people who love sewing and making their own clothes, offering an extensive range of paper and digital PDF sewing patterns plus copy shop printing services. They are on a sewing mission to help makers find the perfect project and create a handmade wardrobe they love. If the designs from London Fashion Week has inspired you to try your hand at sewing, why not try making one of The Fold Line's best selling sewing patterns for beginners.

Co-founders Rachel Walker and Kate Underdown took part in the Innovating for Growth Free Scale-Up programme and with the help of experts' advice, marketed their new online shop to an established community following. 

 

I Can Make Shoes

Amanda with a shoe prototype

If shoes are more your style, why not try I Can Make Shoes, a London-based shoe-making school for beginners. Amanda founded the business back in 2010 to teach total beginners how to make their own shoes from home. Since we last spoke to the Innovating for Growth alumna, a lot has changed - she spent the first lockdown filming the same course content she had been teaching in-person for over 10 years and released it as an Online Course, this turned out to be great timing as people from all over the world had been wanting to take one of their courses but weren't able to travel the distance.

The past two years have been a very rocky road, as is the case many small businesses, but I Can Make Shoes has come out of it in a great position having had a chance reset the business and find their feet in the world of online training.

 

Revival Retro

Woman crossing the sreet dressed in retro clothing

Inspired by beautiful bygone eras Revival Retro’s garments have classic style, feminine tailoring and flattering cuts. They are the perfect antidote to the fast fashion and throwaway culture of the chain brands on the high street and are committed to enabling individual style with inclusive sizing (8-28). For the discerning woman who wants a better shopping experience, their thoughtful design and considered approach puts people, planet and provenance first. Clothing that women will choose to wear again and again, that are easy to care for, enabling this desire and therefor lowering impact on the environment.

Since completing Innovating for Growth in 2017 where they learned to create a solid foundation for their business plans, their small business has built upon lessons learned and stayed true to their values whilst navigating the challenges of the last few years.

 

Sabina Motasem

Sabina drawing designs in front of a rack of hanging patterns

Sabina Motasem is a multi award-winning bridal boutique featured on vogue.com and in Elle. The entrepreneur and designer behind it is Sabina Ali whose dresses are proudly made right here in London with beautiful craftsmanship by an extraordinarily talented team. Having started in 2007, with a single wedding dress made as a present for a friend, Sabina's presence has steadily grown and she took part in our Innovating for Growth programme in 2012; it's an experience she calls "life changing" as it taught her the value of detaching herself and gaining perspective.

Like so many small businesses Sabina had to close her bridal shop in Islington but she believes it was the right thing to do. Her boutique is now online, becoming one of the first bridal brands in the country to pivot in this direction, and in 2022 she has started offering in-person appointments at bridal pop-up shops in Kings Cross, London.

 

Maria Grachvogel London

380_Maria_G_1731b

The Maria Grachvogel brand of Fashion and Luxury is about fit architecture – making clothes exist for the wearer, rather than the other way around. She engineers beautiful clothes, in fabrics that make every shape and size of woman look and feel her most confident, beautiful, and feminine. With a deep belief that cut and fit is transformative to the body and soul, each piece is carefully considered with seams that sculpt the body and fabric that drapes perfectly to move and flow as you do with thoughtful design details to enhance and flatter or allow for many ways to wear and style. The finest craftsmanship goes into every, considered piece so it can be loved and worn for many years. 

Watch the latest fashion film by Maria Grachvogel, Genesis - A New Dawn, which premiered during London Fashion Week on 21 February.   

 

B_Boheme

Woman with red trousers and colourful trainers by B_Boheme

B_Boheme’s showcases how vegan, sustainable and ethical shoes can be desirable. The collection is 100% animal-free using the latest innovations in sustainable, plant-based materials, as well as natural and recycled materials. With their latest collection, they’ve upped the ante to create a collection with the lowest possible carbon footprint. It features three key styles that are designed to be bolder and brighter as well as durable and timelessly chic. They’ve focused on styles that women can wear to be comfortable while still elevating any outfit, the elegant flat shoe, the designer sneaker and the utility Chelsea boot.

25 January 2022

Small Business Resolutions for 2022

A new year is a time of reflection, it's a perfect opportunity to make important changes and set goals you'd like to accomplish in the year ahead. For small businesses, 2021 remained unpredictable under COVID-19 conditions and in order to adapt, pivots were essential - a tricky environment to set goals and resolutions in. We spoke to businesses we have supported, through Innovating for Growth, our National Network and Start-Ups in London Libraries programme, to find out what their top three resolutions are for this year. If you're struggling to set resolutions of your own, we hope they inspire you!

Paul, Triple Double

Photo of Paul Jenkins, founder of Triple Double

Triple Double is a creative studio, founded by Paul Jenkins, that unleashes how youth engage in sport and education, using the power of design and creativity to transform their lives. Innovating for Growth alumni Paul doesn't usually set resolutions focusing instead on goals, this year he's decided to use themes to guide him rather than setting fixed aims:

  • Responsibility. We can't control what happens, but we can choose how we react. This year I'm going to take more responsibility and empower those around me to do the same, so we can collectively highlight and fix the problems, not just put a band-aid over them.
  • Future Thinking. 'What is the future of... X?' These are the questions I want to be asking this year, and beyond, within the spaces of youth, sport and education that Triple Double works in. Using design and creativity to be in pursuit of the answers rather than just trying to predict them.
  • Team. I want to continue to identify people around me that truly understand why I'm doing what I'm doing, and invest in these relationships – reducing or cutting ties with those that don't. It's impossible to speak and please everyone, so it's about spending time with those that matter most. Goes back to responsibility above ultimately.

Jennifer, Stitch & Story

Photo of Jennifer Lam 1/2 of the founders of Stitch & Story

Founded by Jennifer Lam and Jen Hoang, Stitch & Story gives novice crafters a stress-free experience in learning to knit or crochet, their all-in-one kits contain everything you need to get started and learn the basic techniques. Read on to find out their top three resolutions for 2022:

  • Focusing more on the systems and processes for the business. As our business grows, we’re needing to find leaner and more automated ways of working so that our team has all the right information needed to make decisions. I often find systems and processes quite dull compared to the front facing parts of the business, so this year I’ll be making extra efforts! 
  • Delegating more to my team so that I can get away from the day-to-day and focus more on planning for the business.  
  • Make sure I plan in adequate leave/holiday in advance - otherwise I’ll end up with the bad habit of not taking any time off. 

Tina, HumaniTea

Tina of HumaniTeas holding two cans of her products in the outdoors

Tina was inspired by Taiwanese bubble tea concept and British tea drinking culture to develop a delicious, well-balanced, vegan tea latte beverage - HumaniTea. As well as taking part in the start-up arm of the Innovating for Growth programme, she was also mentored by a successful entrepreneur from the scale-ups programme. Then, in 2021, HumaniTea began being stocked in the British Library canteen! Let's see what Tina's plans are for the coming year:

  • Make HumaniTea accessible to even more people by launching our Vegan Tea Lattes into a nationwide retailer
  • Explore new product development ideas to expand our range of HumaniTea Oat Milk Tea Latte flavours, like turmeric and rooibos
  • Increase our sales to support more wellbeing and sustainability initiatives through growing our list of stockists in the UK and abroad

Fiona & Jennifer, Amaze Associates

Photo of Jennifer and Fiona, founders of Amaze Associates

Amaze Associates, founded by Fiona Wedderburn-Graham and Jennifer McLean, is a transformational coaching company that empowers individuals and  businesses to achieve their goals and to navigate work and life challenges. Their top three resolutions are:

  • Review the business plan and celebrate our achievements: as often we don't lift our heads above the parapet long enough or take time to consider what we have actually achieved.
  • Take social media by the horns: By planning/scheduling reels and stories in advance and introduce lives as part of our marketing strategy. 
  • To be limitless: As a business we have set an aspirational income target, this acts as a real motivating factor for us and has informed our goal setting for this year.

Katherine, ArtPerÚK

Photo of Katherine, founder of ArtPerUK in traditional Peruvian clothing for London's New Year's Day parade in 2020

ArtPerÚK, founded by Katherine Tinoco, is 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. Katherine let us know what her top three business resolutions for the new year are:

  • Run events and performances outside London to increase Peruvian folklore visibility
  • Create new and energetic choreographies with traditional costumes to increase our variety and diversity
  • Run a Dance Performance with more than 30 dancers in one Theatre in London.

Hellen, Small Stuff

Hellen at her shop front

Hellen Stirling is the founder of Small Stuff, an eco-conscious children’s store in South Yorkshire. Hellen used BIPC South Yorkshire’s free market research reports and recently their IP support to become a trade marked brand. Her three goals for 2022 are:

  • Continue to grow and expand Small Stuff, both online and in real life by taking on more specialised staff to share the load.
  • Collaborate with the local community, support and engage with other local businesses, shoppers and residents to get Crookes high street on the map!
  • Travel and promote the business nationally, but going back to Small Stuff’s roots and utilising pop-up spaces and empty units around the country to promote the brand and our sustainability ethos.

Paul, Solarglide

Paul in his workshop

Paul Pringle, Founder and Managing Director of Solarglide, who are based in the North East, produce blinds, curtains and window shades for ships. They received help from BIPC North East to help take their business to the next level in terms of sustainability. This year, Paul is looking forward to progressing three things:

  • We’re looking at the transport we use, when we travel to shows or to see customers in other parts of the world. What we can do to either offset that, which is not really the way we want to go, we want to try and get as low a carbon footprint as we can, so we’re just looking at every aspect. The support we’re getting to take that forward is great. It just means we’re getting guidance on how to go about it. I was unsure where to turn, now I feel a lot more confident. Our goal is to get the lowest possible carbon footprint that we can get as a business. Yes we’re a manufacturer, but we’ve got lots of other ideas and ways in which we can reduce our power consumption, the processes to make us more environmentally friendly and also the products and see what else we can do to make them more sustainable.
  • One of the big developments happening at Solarglide is we’re going very motorisation with everything we do. For the last 10 – 15 years it’s been all manually operated products we offer. We are now heading into the era of motorisation, i.e. blinds and curtains. We’re investing heavily in research and the development of our products.
  • The other area is we’ve moved in to the yacht industry, which is still under the umbrella of maritime and we’ve developed a whole range of products for the yacht and super yacht market. It’s an exciting time for us. We’re also looking at land-based projects, without diverting too much away from the maritime market, i.e. motorhome, caravan, as our products fit that type of environment very well as well. We’ll stay true to our maritime roots and won’t diverge too much.

 

 

01 December 2020

A week in the life of… Stéphanie Tumba founder of Sté Tumba Capital and Managing Director of Human Connections London

Stephanie is the managing director of Human Connections London, an introduction and matchmaking agency based in London and founder of Sté Tumba Capital, a business angel vehicle investing in creative ideas, bonds and stocks, commodities, and most importantly start-ups with innovative ideas. Stephanie became part of the BIPC family after taking part in our Innovating for Growth programme.

Stephanie getting into a yellow cab

My diary takes place during the week when the second lockdown was announced, also the week before the highly anticipated American elections and 60 days before Christmas.

We reached out to the Business & IP Centre for Human Connections London as we felt stuck. We felt like we had achieved enviable and reasonable growth, yet we hit a glass ceiling. We needed external eyes and opinions, not only to be bigger and better than our competitors, but more so to implement a consistent system for getting a strategy implemented that truly scales. Whilst I was really impressed by my colleagues and our mentors during the Innovating for Growth programme, I found the few sessions of the Business & IP Centre's Growth Club mentoring programme with Alan Wick even more valuable during such trying times. It has currently proven to be an source of inspiration to sustain during the pandemic and well beyond.

Monday You never know what your day will bring when you own and manage a portfolio of several investments and properties and work on a couple of projects around the world. Especially during a global pandemic! Yet, my Mondays tend to be more or less the same unless there is an emergency.

I do not do any work on Monday; in fact I mostly dedicate this day to charity endeavours. However, I still wake up around 5am with the following morning routine that ends around 8am. I call this period of the day Golden Hours as they tend to set the energies and vibes of the day:

  • Wash my face and drink a glass of water
  • Say my gratitude out loud
  • Prayers
  • Meditation
  • Visualisation
  • Exercise (Pilates 30 to 45 minutes)
  • Reading
  • Plan my priorities for the day with a coffee and a croissant
  • Shower

And now I am ready to start my day around 8am!

8.00 Working from home, I switch my laptop on. The first thing I do is read thoroughly all the reports that I have received from my teams, partners and service providers the Friday before. These reports usually help me to plan the rest of the week and sometimes do tweak my priorities on Monday.

10.00 I check my phone for the first time. I also respond to my emails, for no more than an hour, so I need to prioritise who I respond to.

11.00 I catch up with my assistant, this tends to take at least two hours, to plan the week ahead and determine where she can help me out both in my personal and business life.

Lunch time I am a Rotarian, as such we meet every Monday at 12.30 for lunch, a talk presented by an inspiring leader or charity representative, and a catch up with my Rotarian friends. Rotary is a non-political and non-religious organisation whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It’s my way to give back to a variety of communities from one sole place. We usually meet in Mayfair but we are currently holding Zoom meetings.

14.30 I spend two hours reviewing my assets (personal and business) and decide what to buy, sell, or hold. In fact, I check the markets and my investments’ fluctuations. My investments include stocks, equities, commodities and others on the NYC, London, and Paris. Therefore, I read the numbers, the news, any press release, quarterly or annual report, sales and so much more!

Finally, I end my Monday by coaching and/or mentoring three young professionals, free of charge, in the subject of career, lifestyle, and business.

21.00 I ordered food through Deliveroo. It’s too late to cook and I never miss a meal.

22.00 My Evening Routine:

  • Shower
  • Praying
  • Thanks
  • Visualisation and Affirmations

Stephanie on a bench

Tuesday My Tuesdays are your Mondays. My Golden Hours have been well used and I am on the starting block and full or energy for the day. The only difference is that I take my coffee at the office, not at home.

8.00 This time, I start by reading my emails for the first hour.

9.00 Speed read 2/3 unsolicited pitches for investments.

10.00 Zoom call with my mentor.

11.00 Catch up with the Marketing team.

Noon Catch up with Miia from Human Connections London. We have a meeting to talk about the clients I will be meeting this week and looking after. I am a qualified matchmaker, but only look after Platinum Plus and beyond members (most expensive membership). We also catch up, talking about their backgrounds and their requirements. There’s a very exciting week ahead so I love this part of my job!

13.00 Lunch.

14.00 I will be spending this afternoon interviewing Business Development Managers and Matchmakers for Human Connections. I have three different interviews, each with 30 minutes break in between and a quick read of my emails, prioritising who to respond to.

18.30 Checking my emails for the last time.

19.30 I am off! It’s date night and I am heading to one of my faves, Ivy High Street Kensington. We are leaving the restaurant at 21.30 because of the curfew and I am at home at 21.45.

22.30 My Evening routine (note, I would not have checked my phone in the all evening).

Wednesday Morning routine.

8.00 Check my emails.

9.30 Taxi towards Home Grown for a meeting at 10.00 to meet my assistant. We are working on a couple of creative projects for 2021.

I am currently working on a franchise called #Superwomen and today my assistant and I meeting one of the potential videographers. Th project requires a very specific sets of skills for both the editing and the filming. We are looking for someone able to shoot and edit the show in the a style that I’m envisioning, therefore need someone who can understand and translate my ideas in reality.

The launch is for next year, it was meant to be last summer 2020, but I am very excited as this time allowed my team and I to tweak and fine-tune the project and make it very specific. We would be working with a group of talented and highly skilled artists, entrepreneurs and successful women and we can’t wait to introduce the project to the world. This is another fun and creative part of my role, it’s less factual, more engaging, and most importantly, the show is meant to inspire me and other women from around the world.

After discussing #superwomen project and a few more projects for next year, we eat lunch at Home Grown, have a quick re-viewing of the place where I want to film and leave.

15.00 My assistant and I are heading toward Home House for an additional viewing of one of their venues. I have a clear vision of where I want the show to be filmed and I feel like Home Grown is the ideal place to do so. Yet, I wanted to see an additional venue to be sure that I am not missing out on a better place. Well, I stick to Home Grown, however, this place will be ideal for my birthday.

16.00 Back at the Home Office. I speed read the legal documentation needed for my call with my lawyer, read the news regarding current legislation changes in France, and write down questions for him.

16.30 Call with lawyer in France to discuss a few amendments to our standard rental agreement as per recent changes made in France in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

17.30 End of call. I read my emails until 18.00.

18.30 Home getting ready for my night out.

20.00 Dinner with friends at Bagatelle.

22.30 My Evening Routine

Thursday Morning routine

8.00 Checking my emails. At this point, my ordinary Thursday routine was interrupted, so I’ll relate what happened instead:

I received an emergency call, a worker had had an accident on one of our building sites (Sussex) with a serious injury. I had to meet one of my business partners and the building company that employs him onsite and assess and gauge what happened. I had to be sure that our site had not broken any rules as it is our responsibility to provide a place that is safe and healthy for all of all our builders/contractors. So, needless to say that I was pretty anxious (a very unusual feeling for me as I rarely am!).

9.00 I was on the train discussing with my business partners and lawyers about the questions we need to ask and what needs to be assessed on location. I simultaneously used my personal phone to email Miia, my business partner for Human Connections to cancel my meetings with the clients that I was meant to meet today.

11.00 I arrived on site. I checked the details (report) of the accident, the pictures taken on the scene of the causes, the damages on site, and I call or question the two witnesses of the accident, ask about the working practices, and so on so forth. I was stressed out, I need to relax.

Human Connections logo

13.00 Lunch. I was on a quick call with Human Connections to check my next availability and speak to my assistant to tell her what happened. This was followed by a quick 'fun and relaxing' call to my BF and BFF. I was calmer, relieved, and back to my normal self.

14.00 Back to business (like I really had a non-business lunch) we then call the employee’s lawyer.

15.00 We had a meeting with the the employee’s employer to define whose insurance is going to be used.

16.00 Exhausted, on the train, I postponed my jazz night and dinner with the ladies for 20.00 instead of 1900. I responded to my emails on my mobile.

18.30 I get home. I had a quick shower, a change of clothes and am ready to relax.

20.00 Drinks, dinner, and jazz with my ladies.

22.30 My Evening Routine

What a day! I was exhausted!

Friday Morning routine

8.00 My inbox was cracking, unsurprisingly, and my business phone had billion of voicemail messages. I am really tempted to postpone my appointment at the hairdresser later on today… Let’s see.

I start with checking my voicemail. I had 13 messages. I take notes, phone numbers, and saved most of them. I decide to call two of them back later in the morning and email three of them immediately, the rest will have to wait until next week.

9.00 I decide to deal with most of my emails by themes, projects or start-ups. I start with the Business Development Executive recruitment for Human Connections. I confirm a few interviews that had been conducted for me and review the CVs received. I send my new availability for the following week for the missed phone calls and client meetings the days before.

I have a call with Miia to review our new package called 'Love at first Dial'. We are excited about it and will be organising Zoomtastic dates for our new and former clients.

I read my PR team’s email, with the subject: 'POST ON INSTAGRAM – YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING FOR DAYS' and decide to post later on Halloween and tomorrow as well. My simple and quick response: 'Will do :)'

The start-ups are all panicking at the shadow of a new lockdown. I have to approve the final pricing, packages, services, products, discounts, offers of six different companies. I start by printing the minutes of our latest meetings, compare them with the final tweaks and approved most of them. DONE!

I can’t believe it’s 14.00! Where did this time go? I call my hairdresser and postpone for Saturday. Not proud. I need to eat and go for a walk.

I am walking in Hyde Park and grab some sushi on my way back home.

15.30 Well, I can’t cancel my dinner with the BF, so I am going to be very selective with what I choose to do for the last couple of hours. Passion (hobbies/friends/family) first, business second! That is my motto… So, quick quick…

Last project to work on that day, #Superwomen. I am still working on my emails! We are negotiating the licensing rights with Sony and Warner Chappell for a song sang by Kygo that we want to use. It’s our first contact with them and we want a quote from each publishers.

16.45 Finally returning the calls from my voicemail. I know it was meant to be this morning!

17.30 I speed read the different reports I have received from everyone including my assistant, the marketing team, WIB Limited, Human Connections and so on…

I am done for today! And I’d better try on my costume for Halloween that I received on Monday and just did not have the time to try. It’d better fit or tomorrow will be an intense shopping day as well.

18.00 I am on the phone with my sister.

18.55 Getting ready for my dinner date.

20.00 Dinner at Koji.

22.15 Night Routine.

Saturday (full moon) I am awake around 8.30 but stay in bed until 10.45, when I receive my Gousto for the week.

11.00 Coffee and croissants in front of my iPad on La Redoute, Maje, and Net-A-Porter to get some dresses and style inspirations for the winter. 2021 will be a better year! Did I mention that I like fashion and have a soft spot for dresses? I rarely go into stores (unless I’m in my home city of Paris and strolling around cute boutiques). Yes, I am a proper millennial, from food to clothes, if I can avoid wasting my time and use it more efficiently for family, friends, and socials. I will. I’d rather go to the theatre to see a play. Well, when they open.

12.00 Morning Routine.

13.00 I grab a quick sandwich on my way to the hairdresser.

14.00 Hairdresser. I spent two hours there to hear all about conspiracy theories about the COVID-19. Very entertaining.

17.00 Walking home and chatting with a friend over the phone.

17.30 Getting ready for my Halloween afternoon tea and dinner with my dearest girlfriends.

18.00 Afternoon tea at Home House. The atmosphere is intense. Boris has just announced a second lockdown starting on Thursday at midnight. We are even more willing to have a great night and enjoy these fun and dearest moments.

22.00 Heading home.

22.30 Call with mom.

23.34 Night routine.

Sunday (at home with the boyfriend) This time, I stayed in bed until 11.00.

Noon Brunch at Delloway Terrace.

14.00 Back at home checking/planning for the week ahead. Checking my emails and diary.

15.30 Enjoying my book, magazines, and other reading.

16.30 Chat with my brothers, my best friends, catching up on our latest adventures.

18.00 Watching a documentary on the American elections.

20.00 I cook my first Gousto meal.

22.00 Night routine and good night!

This was a fairly lazy weekend. In a world without COVID-19, I, or we, would probably be enjoying a matinee at a ballet, theatre, or cinema. Or doing some outdoor activities. But considering the intense week, I wanted to have a quiet weekend.

This was a week in my life. It’s not that much different to a regular week the I would have had pre COVID-19. But, add in the flights delays, cancellations, my trips to the Nordics, the USA and Greenland, the getaways in Europe over weekends, or the night outs in operas, theatres, ballets and gigs and you would have a real idea of what it is to live a week in my life. Happy lockdown!

16 November 2020

Meet our delivery partner: Paul Grant, The Funding Game

Paul Grant has been running workshops, webinars and masterclasses for more than a decade at the British Library's Business & IP Centre, principally focusing on funding and growing a business.

Paul Grant

About Paul’s funding events

One of the biggest hurdles of early stage companies is fundraising. Entrepreneurs looking for investment often face difficulty when navigating their way through the many funding options available without giving away too much control of their company. Paul has spent many years demystifying the funding game for entrepreneurs so that they can take the right decisions when it comes to launching and growing their businesses.

What’s covered?

Paul delivers online and in-person coaching, events and courses that break down the steps to getting funded into straightforward, practical actions.

As part of the British Library's new Reset. Restart programme, Paul runs a free monthly session on Your Funding Options which helps entrepreneurs discover routes to capital that they may not have heard of before, and decide on the best approaches for their business. Included in the session is advice on the latest government loans and support initiatives, and how to take advantage of angel investment and crowdfunding.

Paul’s half-day anchor workshop, How to Attract the Right Investors, walks entrepreneurs through the whole process of securing equity investment through crowdfunding, angel investors and venture capital.

Attendees leave with a simple, step-by-step plan for funding their business, as well as proven pitching templates and strategies. The workshop includes an interactive session with a top angel investor who shares insider information on the way he makes investments.

Paul also delivers regular online events to give entrepreneurs the best chances of raising the capital they need. His Fast Growth Series covers four key areas:

The series also includes several free question and answer sessions with top angel investors, debt-financing experts and legal professionals.

Paul is a regular presenter on the British Library's Innovating for Growth programme, a free European Regional Development Fund initiative designed to help small businesses that are looking to grow.

Who are these events for?

All Paul’s events are designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs who are struggling to figure out which route to take to fund and grow their business, and who are seeking clarity, direction and a clear set of practical steps towards securing investment.

Paul’s How to Attract the Right Investors workshop is ideal for ambitious entrepreneurs who are either in the start-up phase and are unsure of where or how to raise the capital to launch, or are already trading but need more capital to reach profitability and scale.

The Fast Growth online series is designed for entrepreneurs who are keen to secure equity funding as quickly as possible and includes special events on crowdfunding and agile funding which are increasingly popular ways for business owners to finance their growth.

What can attendees expect?

Attendees can expect pacy and highly interactive sessions packed with valuable content and practical guidance. All events include follow-up information and support, as well as road-tested formulas and templates for attracting investment that have been validated by hundreds of investors. Paul’s aim is for everyone attending his events to leave with clarity and confidence about securing the right investment, so they are free to spend more time on their business.

"Paul is one of those advisors that is talking from experience rather than from a textbook. These events will save most people a fortune." - Managing Director at Arated.com Corp. Ltd. More testimonials.

About Paul Grant

Paul Grant is founder of The Funding Game which offers practical guidance, support, tools, events and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs seeking capital for their startup and scale-up ventures. Paul is an experienced entrepreneur and was founder of a London-based company for seven years which was funded through equity and debt finance. The company offered London-wide catering to the corporate and retail markets. Paul then worked with BA Capital and Capital Partners Private Equity Ltd. where he built a network of over 500 business angels, while coaching entrepreneurs individually and in groups on all aspects of funding and growing their early-stage businesses.

Paul has been featured in The Guardian and in several industry blogs and podcasts, and has run mentoring sessions for the British Library's Business & IP Centre, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, Cass Business School, City University, London South Bank University, the Impact Hub network, Innovation Warehouse, Google Campus, Rainmaking Loft, The Princes Trust, The Business Funding Show, Big Venture Fund and many other incubators, innovation hubs, accelerators and organisational partners in and around London. He also provides pitch training for entrepreneurs delivering successful pitches on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Paul’s passion is playing a part in helping other entrepreneurs enjoy the game of launching and running their own successful businesses.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.

Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.

02 November 2020

A week in the life of… Catherine Farrant, founder of Ossa Organic

Catherine, founder and CEO of Ossa Organic took part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme earlier this year, so we wanted to find out more about how she leads her company and what it involves...

Catherine Farrant, founder of Ossa Organic sat at a table with a hot drink

Ossa Organic is a food business on a mission to inspire people to change the way we eat, from choosing fast and convenient to nourishing ourselves for optimal gut health and wellness.

Our first product to market was organic and traditional bone broth, which was also the first to hit UK supermarket shelves in 2015. As a business we are focused on tradition not trend, and a lot of mine and the teams’ time is spent in educating and inspiring people to move away from 0% fat diet culture and processed foods, and instead to use ancient nutrition as a way to heal themselves and feel well. A great example of this was our Bone Broth Bar held in January of this year, where we held a pop up for three weeks in the iconic Selfridges food hall in Central London, serving hot cups of chicken, beef and vegan broths and chatting to customers about gut health and these nourishing traditions.

Ossa Organic products and ingredients

I joined the Innovating for Growth programme, just before the pandemic hit and the world as we knew came to a halt. During this time the programme was an exceptional form of support and motivation and reminded me of the many vital practices for entrepreneurs, which help us to refocus and reprioritise our working lives:

  • To plan and think strategy in a quickly changing landscape
  • To visualise my goals
  • To be creative
  • To collaborate
  • To make time to rest

All of these now make up my primary focuses in a working week as I continually learn to be more kind and patient with myself and remember my favourite mantra, ‘You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.’

My week

My weeks are always different as I do keep a routine, but am someone who thrives in a dynamic and varied environment. I spend every day working to grow and build Ossa but make my family and my children a priority as well as myself.

Self care

I am sure there are many female entrepreneurs who are mothers that understand if you are not giving time to yourself, you will ultimately fail. Self-care gives you more energy and ultimately it is this positivity and motivation that you can gift back to your family and your business.

Once I have completed my maternity leave, I will resume my weekly routine which includes:

  • yoga three – five days per week before the house wakes up (a rare moment for stillness and inward reflection)
  • I also practice meditation and do a 10 minute breath work session or journey most days. This helps me still my mind and some of my best ideas for the business or moments of clarity to make better decisions, come in this time. I always keep a notebook close by to jot down any ideas that spring to mind.
  • I rest and recalibrate by using the sauna two times a week for 20 minutes, which promotes detoxification, gut health and digestion and gives me time to detox from the digital, putting myself in a space where it is literally impossible to check Instagram or emails.

I am a mother of three and have just welcomed our third child into the world, so I am currently on maternity leave. At such a pivotal time in a woman’s life, I have been so proud to take time out and realise what we have created in Ossa Organic.

Through my pregnancy, labour and birth (which took place at home) I sipped on bone broth and remembered how it all began. Ossa was born when I was pregnant with my first son and in search for an all-natural and organic source of nutrients for my body and found an elixir in bone broth. Hailed for millennia as “liquid gold", bone broth is rich in the nutrients from slow cooked bones including collagen, gelatin, glycine and amino acids to help seal the gut, strengthen immunity and much more. It was then I realised that there was nothing readily available and that it was time to share an alternative away from processed fast foods and bring these ancient nourishing traditions to supermarket shelves. Now, five years after launching, as a new mother I am able to enjoy the product that my body really needs during this pivotal time of rest and recovery.

Ossa Organic products and ingredients

Living my own brand

It has been so powerful for me to live my own brand over the lifetime of the business. I started looking into ancestral nutrition as a way of life seven years ago when I was pregnant with our first child. Ossa Organic was born five years ago, and since then, my team and I have worked weekly to inspire others to make their gut health a priority and to learn about bone broth and natural, organic and traditional foods. We share more on our blog.

My team and I have become experts at working remotely, considering the current times. We work on two team meetings a week which can be one – two hours long. We spend time looking at our micro and macro goals and then give each team member dedicated tasks.

As a female entrepreneur and a mom, the power of a strong team behind me is everything. To have trust and support from people who understand and grasp your business, gives me strength as a CEO and allows me to focus more on what I want to achieve for the business.

I work five days a week and start very early, as I am an early bird. I like to finish work by 15.30 to be able to collect the children, and on days this is not possible, I know I can make this time when I need to. This is vitally important to me.

I also spend a portion of time each week reading, researching, and discovering new ideas and trends in the way of health, mindfulness and biohacking. All these areas relate to Ossa and help keep me at the cutting edge and inspired.

I am most recently very interested in regenerative farming and soil health as all this links to the microbiome. Having left a corporate job where I was a Partner in a large firm in the City of London, I have spent two years out of that world and immersed in my own business where I have had the pleasure of being able to design my own life. The power of having control over how you work, allows you to create a life that suits your best interests. I believe this way of living has made me more productive and more inspired in both business and everyday life.

29 October 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary – The Street Food Company – part 2

Hi, and welcome back to part 2 of The Street Food Company blog (read part 1 here if you missed it)! After another great six weeks, we have finally finished the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme and have managed to build a solid growth plan that we are so excited to start actioning.

After all the workshop learnings from the first half of the programme, part 2 really allowed us to tailor this work to our business with focussed one-to-one consultations.

Everything kicked off with one of the most overlooked areas of a business, market research. Not only did we have access to thousands of up-to-date market reports via the programme, we also had Oliver, our dedicated Business Library researcher. Oliver was able to help us answer specific questions we had e.g. were young people engaged in cooking sauces? How has COVID-19 changed people’s eating and cooking habits? Getting these questions answered gave us a much clearer picture about the opportunity in the market and how our products and offering could be as competitive as possible.

Two cheeseburgers being held

With this research in hand we decided to engage a design agency to help us reposition our brand and get the key messages right. During this design phase, we fortunately met with Alex and Ceyda from Briffa, a specialist IP law firm. They were able to give us advice about protecting trade marks and other business intellectual property, both in the UK and abroad, and reviewed our existing confidentiality agreements and privacy policies. We now feel so much more confident in protecting all our work.

Our final meeting was with Uday from Red Ochre where we brainstormed final thoughts and ideas from all areas of the course so we could confidently walk away with an actionable growth plan that will truly make a difference to our company.

We are now incredibly excited to launch our updated brand and products and to crack on with our mission of making truly unique, adventurous and fun products with crazy bold flavours that other companies are afraid to do; that challenges the status quo and pushes the boundaries of food and flavour. If you are as passionate and creative with food as we are, subscribe on our website and be the first to find out!

All in all, it has been a fantastic journey and couldn’t have come at a better time. I would like to thank the British Library for accepting us on this course with a big shout-out to Julie and Anna the Relationship Managers, who have been fantastic. Also big thanks to all the mentors who have helped so many companies with their growth plans in such volatile times.

Although it’s goodbye to the Innovating for Growth programme, we are now looking forward to joining the BIPC’s Growth Club and getting access to their amazing guest speakers. For those thinking of taking part on the course, all I can say is get over to the Innovating for Growth page on the British Library website and apply.

Thanks for now and Let Your Taste Buds Travel!

James and Kevin

28 September 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary – The Street Food Company – part 1

We are once again following another business through the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, The Street Food Company. You can read last year's diary from JR Pass and The Good Slice’s diary from earlier this year. You will hear first-hand about the programme’s different sessions and how they are using these to focus and change their business direction. Let’s here more from James.

“Hi, I’m James and together with my co-founder Kevin, we started The Street Food Company.  The business sparked from our backpacking adventures and tasting the world’s best street food, from Bangkok’s shredded mango salads, chorizo chilli mint hotdogs from Havana to the toasted coconut curries of Sri Lanka. Back in the UK, we couldn’t find the same electrifying flavours and inspiring dishes anywhere and were bored with the more mainstream dishes everyone was offering.

Street Food market selling grilled foods

We decided to make a range of bold, adventurous and unique Street Food sauces that helped others easily recreate the world’s best street food with just a few simple ingredients, no need for specialist skills or hard-to-find herbs and spices. We started supplying university chefs to help them provide street food for their students, but the business has recently grown into theme parks, football stadia to pub chains and hotels across the UK. Our simple mission to help anyone easily recreate the world’s best street food that we find on our travels was well underway!

Fast forward to March this year and all that changed.  All our customers had to close their doors and the food service sector as we knew it changed overnight. We quickly decided to turn our focus to diversifying our business and to launch a retail side for consumers who wanted to cook more adventurously at home with bolder world flavours. The Innovating for Growth programme couldn’t have come at a better time as we now had access to a group of specialist advisors who could help us in every aspect of our new retail growth plan, to ensure we focussed our limited resources in the right direction at such a critical time.

We kicked off with a session by Rasheed Ogunlaru, owner of Soul Trader. The meeting was not only a great way to meet and interact with the other businesses on the course, but it also focussed on us as founders and the importance of looking after ourselves and that we have a clear vision, mission and plan for our own lives as much as we should for our business.

The rest of the course was focussed on our growth plan, which centres around a simple one page Business Model Canvas tool, that helps you layout how you will deliver products and services that your customers value and will pay for. Our opening strategy session with Robert from Red Ochre identified the key to our growth as being:

  1. A clearer value proposition for our products.
  2. More defined target customers.
  3. Finding the right marketing activities.
  4. Identifying the right partners to sell the products through.

With a much clearer focus on what we needed, we dived straight into brand sessions run by Dave and Sandra from ABA, which helped us realise the importance of branding, it being the sum total of everything your company does and how it behaves. It’s how customers feel about your brand and not what you think they feel. This focussed our thinking on the purpose of our company, what we could be best in the world at and how we should communicate this to our customers.

Our company purpose has now changed from helping people to make street food at home to one with a much bigger mission of making truly unique, adventurous and fun products with crazy bold flavours that other companies are afraid to do; that challenges the status quo and pushes the boundaries of food and flavour. We are reinvigorated as the potential and possibilities feel limitless.

Drunk Pony Ribs from The Street Food Company

We excitedly jumped into a Marketing session with Helen from ABA where we learned to create detailed customer personas to really understand our customers, focus on communicating the emotional benefits of our products and to detail our customer’s journey to give a five star service at every touchpoint.

With customers on our mind, we met with Dean from Fluxx, an incredible product and service innovation company.  We felt we knew our customers, but Fluxx challenged us to question our assumptions and delve deeper, suggesting great techniques like diary studies and split testing to really get inside the heads of our customers and understand how and why they use our products.

Last, but certainly not least, was financial planning with Julie from Metavalue. This session addressed our questions over budgeting, pricing and KPIs, helped us to create a financial forecast and plan and has instilled a commitment in us to review our P&L (profit and loss), balance sheet and key financial information monthly.

The programme has been incredibly useful in helping us work through our new business direction and we can’t wait to get stuck into Part 2 and let you know more! Feel free to follow us on Instagram and Facebook or contact us at hello@discoverstreetfood.com. ‘Till then, Let Your Taste Buds Travel!"

Read part 2 here.

24 July 2020

How Innovating for Growth is helping business throughout the crisis

For the first time in the programme’s history, Innovating for Growth has taken place entirely online. Participants can now have virtual one-to-ones with our external consultants, ‘meet’ each other in online workshops. It’s not only the way the programme is currently being run which has pivoted due to the current crisis, the goals of the businesses taking part have also changed, some struggling to keep going, many changing the way they operate, others trying to keep up with the demand their product or service has seen increase.

We caught up with our delivery partners to find out first-hand how they can support Innovating for Growth businesses and why now might be the best time to apply for the programme…

Red Ochre – Growth strategy

“For the majority of businesses we’ve seen during the pandemic, there had been a stop or slow down in trading. However, there is a lot of positivity. For many there is an improvement in the situation, others are exploring new opportunities and others can see a positive change when various sanctions are lifted. In every case the initial panic has been allayed by the input from the consultants.

“We can help businesses identify what can they do in the short term, how to prepare for more changes in the midterm, provide someone to talk to, someone looking outside in, someone giving a wider perspective to help build resilience and sustainability.”

Since 2012, we've supported over 520 businesses

Meta Value – Financial planning

“We can help businesses be resilient and adapt and help figure out a model to make it all easier and less dependent on them (a common problem). We can also help stabilize the business and identifying the right model so they can then grow or consolidate.

“We can also help with grants, which might not be relevant for all businesses, but the option is available.”

Newable – Innovation

“It’s sometimes daunting or difficult to take the time in a business owners’ busy schedule to spend time to work on the business, rather than the day to day fire-fighting. This programme is a great way to discuss and confide in experienced professionals obstacles or opportunities they might be facing.

“We can also highlight the wealth of other resources available with the BIPC which might be relevant to your business, such as the free market research reports and programme of webinars.”

Since 2012, 50% of scale-up businesses have been female led

ABA – Marketing and branding

“We’ve seen a real mixture of those fighting to survive and those who are paddling frantically to keep up with demand or change in circumstances. Regardless of where they find themselves, the reality is (i) they were all having to deal with changing circumstances, not a static landscape; and (ii) they all needed – and I’m sure benefited – from having an expert, outside perspective on the state of their business, the state of the market, and the possible ways forward.”

BRIFFA – Intellectual property

“The businesses we’ve supported since the start of the crisis were looking at how to protect their IP whilst they ride this storm and adapt to new working conditions with the lockdown conditions rather than consideration of future prospects. We also found that some of the candidates had been considering or attempting to try and adapt their business to be digital and needed to understand on how to protect their IP online along with following compliance with GDPR and other commercial aspects like terms and conditions and registering of domains/trade marks. We can help with all of this, so whatever intellectual property query you may have, the programme will be able to support you.”

Since 2012, over 500 jobs have been created

Whatever concern you and your business may be facing, Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups can support London-based businesses to pivot, diversity, plan their finance and adapt in these challenging times with £10,000 worth of free, tailored advice. Visit our website for more information about the programme or to complete our qualifying questionnaire.

14 July 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary - The Good Slice – part 2

Hello, I’m excited to share the progress we’ve made since we last checked in. Ups, downs, turn it all arounds… It’s been a wonderful journey. Pizza in the post is nearly a go! Please take a look at our website and subscribe to our mailing list to find out when we go live.

The Good Slice stand

Calum and I haven't seen each other in person since March. We were meant to be working side by side from May through to October, hopping from festival to festival. Alas… we firmly believe that our challenges are our best teachers. We’re coming out of this stronger, with a better business in tow - thanks in no small part to the Innovating for Growth programme.

Often when problems arise our outlook can become narrow. We may focus on worrying about our own issues and have a sense that we’re the only ones going through difficulties. The Innovating for Growth programme has helped us see things from a wider perspective. Connecting with dozens of other entrepreneurs has been a joy, while the hours of dedicated service and expertise - beamed through Zoom from home to home - have equipped us with the skills needed to identify and execute on an exciting opportunity.

The Good Slice pizza

Very soon you'll be able to order a Good Slice through our website and have it arrive on your doorstep the next day. From San Marzano tomato, smoked burrata and basil to sumac yogurt, burnt aubergine, herb and sesame salad - we’ve worked to create a menu that sources local, but is truly global. And of course, as well as being healthy, fresh and sustainably sourced, every pizza will provide a meal to someone in need.

Members can choose to have pizza delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or once a month, from our ever evolving menu. They’ll benefit from free delivery and a discount. They’ll also be surprised with goodies from partner suppliers and other social enterprises. They’ll become a part of a community united by pizza and purpose. A community into which we’ll share recipes and inspiring stories, highlighting the amazing things they’re helping to achieve.

Pizza with purpose

The Innovating for Growth programme has propelled us forward in what are incredibly tough times. The advisors and consultants have inspired us, and the wonderful British Library staff have been so lovely, and so organised! Our long-term goal is to ensure all people on this planet have the nutrition they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Thank you all for helping us get there. And to anyone considering joining the programme, go for it!

Peace, Love and Pizza,
Ed & Calum

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