09 December 2021
According to Mintel research (which you can access for free in many BIPCs around the UK), 25% of consumers say they are shopping more with local businesses due to Covid-19*. This isn’t just via the traditional bricks and mortar stores, but online as well, with 44% of consumers shopping more online during the pandemic, as detailed in their COVID-19 Retail and E-commerce: A Year On in the UK report. So, we’re bringing you a selection of small businesses who have used the BIPC services around the UK, to give you some inspiration for gifts, not only for Christmas, but year round.
Treats for everyone
One business who received support from BIPC Glasgow, Cubby Salve, founded by Margaret (or Mimi to her cubbies), makes gentle, small-batch, skincare. Each Salve & Body Bar is made with natural ingredients and is blended and hand poured by Margaret in Cubby’s Salve Kitchen.
Cost: Gift sets from £28.99
Where to buy? Cubby Salve
For those with green fingers
Sacpots are tough yet lightweight ethical plant pots designed to be shaped by you. Sacpots are rot-proof, water resistant, and can be placed inside or outside, available in hundreds of colour mixes. The elastic neck lowers water consumption and the insulating fabric accommodates root growth with full stretch indicating it’s time to pot on. Dispatched with a liner in a post box friendly envelope, your washable Sacpots will store flat after use. Handmade by Marcela Livingston in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Marcela received IP guidance to protect her idea and help with general market research with BIPC Leeds through the free access to its databases.
Where to buy? Sacpot
Pott(er)y about ceramics
Elena creates handmade functional and decorative ceramics at Sunken Studio and in her own studio in Leeds. Products include handmade mugs and bowls can be purchased via Instagram. Elena likes to play with surface patterns and geometries and decorate her creations with bright colours and uses natural elements she finds in her garden such as leaves to imprint and enrich surfaces. She is inspired by her surroundings and loves finding details and harmony in the shapes and colours of everyday life. Elena also finds inspiration from the places of her childhood, waves and rocks by the Sardinian sea. Elena used BIPC Leeds' ERDF funded Start-up Leeds programme to take her business to the next level, which included attending weekly workshops.
Cost: Various (bowl, pictured, £30)
Where to buy? Instagram
For the bookworms
Afrori Books has the biggest selection of books by Black authors in the United Kingdom. Covering every genre that you are looking for with thousands of books in store and online. They have a simple mission: Support Black authors, create diverse bookshelves and be a voice for justice. Founder, Carolynn, had a one-to-one with BIPC Sussex to finding funding opportunities and to access their free databases, including COBRA.
Where to buy? Afrori Books
For the chocoholics
Lucocoa Chocolate, is London's first bean to bar chocolate making company based in North London. You won’t find any refined sugar or artificial sweeteners in these bars, instead Lucocoa opts for the healthier alternatives of coconut sugar and lucuma while also sourcing the best flavoured cocoa beans from around the world. Amarachi, founder of Lucocoa, used Innovating for Growth experts' advice to help scale her business as demand for her product grew rapidly.
Cost: Food and Drink hamper £60
Where to buy: Lucocoa
Get mistletoe ready
Our Circular Economy Start-Up Day panellist, FRUU, is a pioneering cosmetics company that specialises in turning fruit by-products into sustainable cosmetics. Started from the spare room of founders Terence Chung and Kelly Yee in 2017, FRUU developed as an initiative to add value to the waste produced in the agricultural waste stream, reduce the use of resource intensive materials, whilst making sustainability an accessible lifestyle. All products are designed, manufactured and produced from their workshop in London and FRUU is currently stocked in 1000+ stores in the UK, EU, Australia and South Korea. Terence also took part in Innovating for Growth to access professional expertise and advice on critical business areas, strategy planning, marketing and intellectual property.
Cost: Gift boxes start at £2
Where to buy: FRUU
Another from our Start-Up Day Circular Economy panel, Natasha from Urban Cordial started her business by foraging for ingredients in her allotment to turn them into cordials. Over a third of global food does not reach our plates, often because of the appearance of the item, even though it is perfectly safe to eat. Natasha, being aware of this issue, contacted local farms to source their surplus food produce and to date, Urban Cordial has helped to save over 100 tonnes of fruit from landfill. Urban Cordial’s production process is also zero waste with all fruit pulp going to the local farms to become animal feed.
Cost: Get the full range for £48
Where to buy: Urban Cordial
For those cosy nights in
A collection of single origin hot chocolates made with tablets and flakes of real chocolate; starting with White and then in varying cocoa percentages from Venezuela 58%, Organic Peru 70%, Academy of Chocolate Gold winning Haiti 75% up to a 100% pure cocoa! Everything, but the White, is registered with the Vegan Society so you can make it with your favourite milk.
Cost: Prices vary; use BLGIFT at checkout to get free shipping on all orders over £10.00 until the end of December!
Where to buy? Kokoa Collection
Handpicked luxury for the home and garden
At Sophie Conran they know that giving a personal gift to a loved one is the ultimate treat. Their collection has something unique to suit every special person in your life. From Sophie’s licensed ranges, exclusive collections and hand picked products, they have curated an inspirational shop for the whole home and garden.
Where to buy: Sophie Conran
I’m dreaming of an Italian Christmas…
Primo Aperitivo encapsulates the very best of Italy making the Italian Aperitivo easy to enjoy in a sharing format. In addition to the most famous Italian Aperitivo, the Negroni cocktails, Primo Aperitivo is the first brand to release the Americano and Sbagliato cocktails, carbonated upon bottling, which create the first ever range of classic Italian Aperitivo cocktails in a ready to serve format. Primo is committed to serve the best and most authentic cocktails sustainably: each cocktail is produced and bottled using 100% renewable energy and every ingredient is produced at the distillery to reduce carbon footprint and wastage.
Where to buy: Primo Aperitivo
Precious stones for a precious person
Innovating for Growth business, Tomasz Donocik, designs and manufactures bespoke and high jewellery sold worldwide in stores such as Saks Avenue (New York), Isetan Men (Japan) and Tsum (Moscow). If you are looking for something extra special, they also offer a bespoke tailor made service where clients can turn their dreams into modern day heirlooms.
Cost: Prices start at £250
Where to buy: Tomasz Donocik
For the creatives
Stitch & Story is a craft kits company based in London, revamping knitting and crochet as simple, modern and aspirational skills. They empower people to start their own creative projects and tell their own stories using chunky yarns, easy-to-follow instructions and online video tutorials. Stitch & Story believe in the power to create, personalise and achieve something meaningful by bringing out the artisan in everyone. Co-founder, Jennifer Lam, took part in our Innovating for Growth programme and with the help of IP experts; she has launched her business in international markets.
Cost: Various gift offers
Where to buy: Stitch & Story
Fashionable butchers for a Christmas lunch
A small but growing butchery located in Peckham and Beckenham, Flock & Herd aim to provide the very best possible quality and range of produce, combined with their service and experience. This Christmas they have carefully selected the best festive treats from Appledore Free Range Turkey to a perfectly dry aged Ayshire Rib of Beef, whether it’s a small lunch for two or a family feast there are plenty of tasty and delicious delights for you to enjoy.
Cost: Various + £30 deposit payable on the phone
Where to buy: Flock & Herd
For those with a sweet tooth
If you're tired of board games and looking for a fun family activity to do on Christmas day, Sweet Paper Creations have just what you need! The business supported by the Start-ups in London Libraries project in Waltham Forest make and sell piñatas, made from recycled materials, for any occasion, you can even commission your own bespoke character! The profits from their shop help to deliver their “Make It and Break It” workshops, which provide a creative outlet for those suffering from mental health issues, stress, bereavement.
Cost: Various (Snowman, pictured, £30)
Where to buy: Sweet Paper Creations
Visit Delmora's online shop for the perfect gift to add a touch of Christmas sparkle to any outfit. Delmora took part in the Start-ups in London Libraries project in the borough of Bexley, they offer a variety of beautiful jewellery items and accessories to help you turn a 'good look' into a 'great look'.
Where to buy: Delmora
Make a splash
Haus of 420 have just what you need to unwind after the big day of festivities! Handcrafted using pure and organic CBD, essential oils and detoxifying natural spa mineral salts. It offers you consistency, relief, balance and calm resulting in the best nights sleep you’ve probably had in a while. Each bath bomb contains 50mg of CBD and 100% peace. Haus of 420 received local support in Lewisham from the Start-ups in London Libraries project.
Where to buy: Haus of 420
Spread the Christmas cheer
MerryCherie offer a beautiful range of positive wellbeing cards for you to share with your friends and family over the festive season. They are proud to be as environmentally friendly as possible, the cards are wrapped in recycled brown paper and safely and securely packaged in hardbacked/padded envelopes for postage. The Start-ups in London Libraries local support in Lewisham helped Sheree-Marie to start her business MerryCherie.
Cost: (Gingerbread card, pictured, £2.95)
Where to buy: MerryCherie
Handmade with care
Crafty North Londoner is a group of London based artisans producing non-mass produced handmade products, with sustainable and ethical practices at the forefront of their activities. The business supported by Start-ups in London Libraries in Haringey offer beautifully created products so you can make sure the gift you give is the most unique one under the tree.
Cost: Various (Mini Necklace Kit, pictured, £24+)
Where to buy: NorioKnots
15 October 2021
In 1969, John Lennon said, “we’re trying to sell peace, like a product…like people sell soap or soft drinks”. That same approach is needed today to sell sustainable goods and services and we need data to help us figure out how to get them to resonate with people.
Some of the most popular sustainable behaviours according to Mintel’s research are driven by frugality, led by meal planning to avoid wasting food (61%) and buying fewer new clothes (58%). The sustainable consumer groups we have identified are more likely to agree with the statement ‘I have a budget that I try to stick to as much as possible’. It is this ‘return on investment’ mentality we need to appeal to when pushing solar panels and EVs, not just environmentalism.
Sustainable products and services should also appeal to people’s sense of well being and self-preservation. A sharp indication of just how seriously UK consumers are taking climate change and pollution is shown by the proportions interested in buying air conditioning (30%) or air purifiers (32%) to make their homes cleaner and safer. Health also informs the growth in greener transport behaviours seen this past year and those who have walked (45%) or cycled (17%) more often.
Sustainably-minded consumers have stronger peacock tendencies, being more likely to agree with the statement ‘I like to stand out from the crowd’. Refurbished tech reseller Back Market appeals strongly to these values, addressing the growing problem of e-waste by selling products 70% below their new price, all delivered in a Freedom campaign that celebrates being ‘different’ from the sheep who line up en masse to pay more for the latest phone.
There’s still time to make a personal difference
The good news is that a small majority (54%) still believe we have time for redemption, and slightly more (56%) believe that their personal actions can make the difference. For brands, the opportunity here is to become the chosen partners of those consumers looking to make a difference. The challenge thereafter is for brands to maintain that relationship by proving what difference they’ve made and reporting back on that impact. So how can they do this?
1. Don’t cross consumers’ ‘red lines’
When asked to choose their top five considerations when purchasing coffee, socks or soap, consumers typically select two or more sustainable features, but they won’t sacrifice product quality, efficacy or brand familiarity for sustainability. We should never forget that a sustainable coffee must first and foremost deliver pleasure, taste and quality before anything else. These rules apply to packaging too: its primary role is to protect the product within to ensure that the energy and other resources that went into its production are not wasted. Their footprint will be much higher than that of the packaging itself. Patagonia is one of the very few brands to have had the courage to explain its reasons for using plastic in these terms.
2. Educate on and disclose impacts
Consumers are fixated on ocean plastic (62% say it’s a top three environmental concern) yet even accounting for its production using fossil fuels, its incineration and disposal it generates less than 4% of annual GHG emissions. More consumers prioritise ocean plastic than a loss of biodiversity in the oceans as a concern, but Sea Shepherd’s revelation that 46% of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually fishing nets, confirms that fishing and food have a far greater impact than packaging when it comes to damaging the ocean and the role of its biomass in storing carbon. It’s the duty of brands to be transparent on their business’s biggest areas of impact when it comes to releasing carbon or methane.
3. Offer tangible, local solutions
When it comes to accepting the reality of climate change, it’s a case of ‘seeing is believing’, with national levels of concern around climate change grounded in what people experience in their own countries. The visibility of ocean plastic is one of the reasons why it resonates so highly and this element of tangibility will also be key in whether people engage on issues. This may hardly seem an earth-shattering insight, but it signifies the importance of tangibility and localism when it comes to delivering sustainable solutions, confirmed in characterisation studies showing ‘sustainably-minded consumers’ to be distinguished by the high emphasis they place on values like ‘community’ and ‘localism’. This means that corporate initiatives – wherever possible – must deliver local visible benefits like cleaner local air from brands using EVs or investing in urban tree planting schemes.
4. Sell in the science
Just 45% of UK consumers agree that “science can provide solutions to the climate crisis”, which is pretty disappointing when we consider how intrinsic available technologies (solar panels, batteries, fuel cells, hydroponics) and those still in development (carbon capture, climate engineering, zero-carbon manufacturing materials, chemical recycling and lab-grown foods) are to us achieving emissions reductions. The pandemic has afforded us a zeitgeist moment to seize upon the speedy and spectacular successes in RNA vaccine development and trust in science needs to be built up by brands to help us achieve progress to net zero. Brands need to be brave enough to explain the benefits of science and synthetics instead of taking the easy option of celebrating ‘natural’ for all of its’ supposed purity. Palm oil, beef and coal are all “natural” resources, but they are finite and threatened and release GHGs in their production.
5. Use clear metrics and language
What will convince consumers to purchase products that claim to have environmental or social benefits?
To build belief in science and to convert potential into actual purchases, companies need to offer a new sustainability lexicon and use simple data and metrics that consumers can understand. Some 44% of UK consumers want labelling that shows a product’s environmental impact and 40% want this communicated in terms they can understand (eg litres of water used or km travelled). Mondra has developed colour-coded on pack “eco scores” that will go on trial in the UK this autumn and go some way to meeting that need.
Richard Cope is a Senior Trends Consultant at Mintel and author of the Sustainability Barometer. Join Richard at our Start Up Day 2021 event on 11th November. He'll be hosting a session on understanding sustainability trends in the UK right now - an unmissable and informative event for all small businesses wanting to start up sustainably.
13 October 2021
Our annual flagship event, Start-up Day is back again. Our free day of online panel discussions, talks and training is back on Thursday 11 November and will feature more than 50 speakers all helping aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to not only start-up, but start-up sustainably.
Over the years, we’ve had thousands of people attend our events both online and in person around the UK. We’re catching up with some to hear what they’ve done since joining us.
Sara-Jayne Slocombe attended BIPC Manchester’s Start-up Day in 2019 and was self-employed supporting other businesses with their annual reports and admin. This then developed into project work and Amethyst Raccoon was born. Hearing from other people who had been in her shoes, who were now the ones giving the talks was one element of the day Sara-Jayne connected with.
‘The biggest takeaway from Start-up Day was appreciating how much and what is involved in starting up a service-based business, and learning that it is completely do-able and can be dealt with in bite-sized chunks.’
Since October 2019, Sara-Jayne’s business has gone from strength to strength, despite the pandemic. ‘If anything, I’ve had more business. For me, the main effect was being flexible with payments to support clients who had been impacted by Covid. Looking ahead, I hope to pick up more clients, finish my booking keeping qualification and connect with industry leaders.’
Speaking to those who are thinking about starting their own business, Sara-Jayne says, "Get really clear on what you want to do, why you want to do it, and who you want to do it for."
Norwich-based magician, David Fung, started his business with the help of BIPC Norfolk in 2018. ‘I first attended Start-up Day and gained many tools and much knowledge near the beginning of my journey. I later signed up for an accounting one-to-one session, which answered many of my questions and put my mind at rest.’
Start-up Day helped David get more knowledge and understanding of the ‘business fundamentals – there’s so much to learn if you’ve never done this before. In addition, the BIPC has given support in local networking and increasing publicity, and are really accessible if I have questions or need other support.’
David’s advice for others looking to start their own business, “Plan first, then just do it. You can learn by doing. I remember attending Start-up Day and asking a business mentor “What’s the next step after this workshop? Is there a part two?” and she replied “The next step is to do it. Start your business.” Take small steps; before you know it, you’ll be running a business.’
Start-up Day can also provide networking opportunities and allow people to share their skills to support other entrepreneurs. Northamptonshire-based business, Clock and Compass Coaching, founder by Daniel O’Connor, made many connections during BIPC Northamptonshire’s Start-up Day in 2019. ‘One of the people I met went on to design my logo and website, I met the person who runs local networking events and from a workshop on copywriting, I then used that copywriter for my website. There was one other person there I met through networking on the day who became my mentor for a year. Lots of great workshops and lots of great connections which have led on to helping me really boost my business.’
Jessica Runyard, founder of Runyard Editorial Services, studied English Literature at university as she knew she wanted to go into the editorial world. However, living in Devon meant the opportunities were few and far between. She set up freelance and is helping self-publishing authors. Jessica also worked with businesses, helping with their websites. She offers a wide range of services around editing for the local area as well as being a freelancer where she has also worked with people overseas.
Jessica attended BIPC Devon's Start-up Day and found the discussions about networking very helpful, the importance of networking but not over networking. Jessica feels like if she could’ve networked more this year than she could’ve been making a bigger profit by now.
"The most memorable thing about Start-up Day 2019 was the talk on accountancy and business banking – things that I knew very little about but were very interesting. After the talk I knew where to look and who to contact, which was very helpful."
She also took away from the Start-up Day some key things for starting a business that she never knew, for example, when she needed someone to do her accountancy. She learnt how long she could stay a sole trader, when to be registering for VAT – all very important things for when starting a business which she didn’t know about before attending Start-up Day.
Jessica’s advice for others starting a business; “Be confident. Imposter syndrome isn’t a thing, you may feel like an imposter but, everyone feels like an imposter, just do it. The more you sit there and say you can’t do it, you will never start if you come up with an excuse."
Start-up Day is in partnership with Santander
29 September 2021
As businesses across the country closed their doors in March of 2020, it was unclear just how long these doors would remain closed. Small businesses found themselves facing a frightening and confusing time, having to pivot and adjust to the continually changing landscape. In many cases, however, this pause in time allowed some to reflect on their career goals and even prompted them to launch their own businesses. We spoke to four such businesses, who either pivoted or started up during the pandemic and explored how they were able to grow despite unpredictable circumstances.
For Carolynn Bain, the pandemic and the civil rights uprising that started to unfold in the summer of 2020 highlighted the importance and need for her to start up her Brighton based business, Afrori Books. Afrori Books is an online bookshop that specialises in books by black authors, their mission statement is simple; to support black authors, create diverse bookshelves and be a voice for justice.
As a National Network business, we were able to assist Carolynn by providing local information and resources to help her grow during this time, specifically ways to source funding to expand the business into a physical shop via our Business & IP Centre Brighton & Hove.
"Starting a business during the pandemic is an unusual thing to do. However, I think what had a bigger impact on us was starting a business during a pandemic and during a civil rights uprising in terms of Black Lives Matter – they can’t be separated for us. Many people were at home, reading books and for the first time ever really the world was sitting still, watching these things unfold before them. That had a massive impact on us and, in a positive sense, bought customers to us who previously maybe would not have considered looking at books by black authors. As we go forward, we are in the middle of crowd funding as we are looking to open a physical shop – working in partnership with a charity in Brighton who have given us a shop space. That has also come off the back of the civil rights movement, as they want to see Brighton change and become a safe space for black authors and black people living in the city. It’s all interconnected."
Another National Network business, who recently took part in our Innovating for Growth programme, that has seen growth during the pandemic is The Woodlife Project. The Norfolk based business, founded by Hazel Russell manufactures beautiful, innovative, eco-friendly wooden products for the family home with a focus on meal times. The Woodlife Project, who got support from BIPC Norfolk, mostly sell online on their own website and wholesale through a variety of different retailers, most notably during the pandemic they are now available on John Lewis and, like Afrori Books, will be looking to have in store product space soon too. "Our proudest moment in business so far has been getting into John Lewis, as they were one of our ideal retailers from the offset. We are online at the moment - in the nursery section with our bear, fox and rabbit plates. If all goes well we will be in store soon."
Jennifer Lam also took part in our Innovating for Growth programme, she is the co-founder and CEO of Stitch and Story based in London, which is an online crafting company on a mission to make crafting simple and easy to learn. During the numerous lock-downs, confined to their homes, people were getting back in touch with their creative side which bode well for this crafting business and allowed them to grow despite the uncertain circumstances.
"We’re here to inspire a new generation of crafters with our DIY kits, yarns and materials. During the pandemic Stitch and Story grew enormously. I think we were one of the lucky companies who were able to grow because everybody was in lockdown, looking for a new skill or hobby to pick up at home. Stitch and Story provided many customers with a new skill in knitting and crocheting and so we expanded very quickly online predominantly, albeit it was very stressful!"
One of the biggest changes to Stitch and Story was the team; they more than doubled the team during the pandemic from seven to 22. "We had to recruit everyone virtually at the time and it was stressful as we had no experience in doing that before - the BIPC really helped in providing us resources for this."
Start-ups in London Libraries business, Delmora, founded by Judy Chicangana-Matthews, offers a variety of beautiful jewellery items and accessories for women. Judy launched her first product at the end of February, weeks before Covid hit. "The impact was huge. In the beginning, people were buying the essentials such as food and toilet paper, so jewellery was considered a luxury. Nowadays, many people are concerned about their jobs and how that is going to impact their finances.
Covid also affects my KPIs in terms of delivery. I use the service Royal Mail 24, and I have had severe delays on the delivery of the parcels. To compensate my customers, sometimes I offer discounts as a part of the customer service. This practice has seriously affected my margins, so surviving has been very difficult."
Thus, the need to pivot and test out new business models to grow her business came about. By adding a loyalty program to her business, she was able to ensure repeat purchases and a loyal customer base. "My response has been offering discounts to my customers and creating programs to increase the brand’s recognition. For example, I offer the Delmora Club discount to all my customers in which the members have exclusive access to special discounts and pre-launch of our collections. We also recently created the program named Delmora Brand Champion that aims to get more positive reviews around our online presence."
Despite the devastating effects of the pandemic, we are pleased to see small businesses surviving, thriving and growing through it - it has highlighted the importance of small businesses, which are innovative, provide jobs and support local communities. In turn, there has been an increase in public support for local small businesses, to help ensure they remained profitable - a trend we hope continues long after the pandemic has ended.
Although restrictions have been lifted across the UK and many of us are returning to normal life, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt around the world. Our Reset. Restart programme launched to help businesses pivot and adapt to the changing climate throughout the pandemic and will continue to support many beyond that. We have caught up with businesses who attended these free webinars to see how the programme influenced their business operations and what changes they have made since.
One start up that benefitted from the programme is INTARIS founded by Oliver Hickmet; a full-service video marketing agency combining the power of digital film with analytics led strategy. Starting a business can be very lonely, and even more so during a global pandemic. For many, our webinars provide an opportunity to build and connect with a network of entrepreneurs from various backgrounds and expertise. “Reset. Restart was an invaluable way to stay connected during lockdown and learn from others sharing experiences and the dynamic conversations that always arose in the sessions. The presentations always had something interesting you did not know before and it was a perfect way to start the day with a hot cuppa.”
For some business owners, as well as networking opportunities, the support and advice offered by Reset. Restart gave them the confidence and push to grow their business. This was the case for Keira Simpson, owner and founder of Daisy Days Virtual Assistant. She provides PA and administration support to small businesses, helping them to save time so they can focus on their core business operations. It was through one of the small businesses that she was assisting at the time, that she discovered the BIPC. “My client wanted me to research the BIPC and to find out what support and services they could offer to help with the set-up of her Community Interest Company (CIC). This is why I love what I do, I get an insight to so many networks, and I get to experience the fabulous support and services that they offer.”
Keira began by attending BIPC Sussex’s free Reset. Restart webinar – Tools for the Job. This gave her an insight into what digital platforms and software was available to grow her business. Like Oliver, it also provided an opportunity for her to connect with other start-ups and share her knowledge and tips, building her confidence in her business. “I gained an insight to other platforms and gained confidence in how I can support my business. The people that I have had the pleasure in talking to from the BIPC, whether that be from the webinars they offer or via email with a question that has arisen, have been so helpful and supportive. They also offer ideas and information - like speaking to a representative from the centre for advice on your business, to other topics which will steer you in the right direction.”
Julia Alcamo and Dan Hodgson founded documentary production company, Happenstance Films in February 2020, weeks before the world went into lockdown. Although this was a difficult time for the creative industries, it was also a time for Julia and Dan to rethink their goals and strategies.
“The last year has been tough because of the pandemic. Many of the initial plans we made fell through and our hopes of starting out strong were quickly squashed. But, it gave us crucial time to doubly rethink our approach to this new way of making branded content: how would we convince the marketing departments? How could we position ourselves to be ready? What did we really want to do differently?”
While their business idea has remained the same, Julia and Dan were able to tap into the wide range of databases and expert advice from our delivery partners that guided them to the clients their business should aim to target. “To hear others care about how we would get out there and find the right clients was amazing! Since, we have used the databases to create a potential client ‘hit list’, a roster of local small and medium-sized businesses who work in specific sectors who we then prepare pitches for. The services have helped us directly with our growth in so far as they identify potential clients and allow us to gain clarity. It’s been crucial in feeling like we have the necessary inside knowledge to be a player in the local economy. Just having that sense is very empowering for a small business. It's also been really great to feel the support from the team and a have a place to go should we have further questions on business development, local resources or tapping into the community most efficiently.”
Although Reset. Restart began as a way to support businesses, like Happenstance, through the pandemic; many entrepreneurs who have used the service started their business as conditions highlighted by the pandemic pushed them to.
This is the case for Roxy van der Post, a Dutch-born documentary filmmaker and lifestyle photographer who began Myosotis Film & Photography in the summer of 2020. For her, the ongoing pandemic emphasised the many social, racial, and climate injustices that were difficult to ignore. The corporate world was no longer a world in which Roxy felt her values and ambitions were shared, so she forged a new path and now works with purpose-led people, social enterprises and charities to amplify their voices through the collaborative practice of visual storytelling.
After settling in Brighton in February 2021 and having no prior knowledge of Brighton or its business community, the Reset. Restart sessions run by BIPC Sussex were a fantastic introduction to the city and its ambitious entrepreneurs. The informal nature of the Reset. Restart workshops meant Roxy could easily engage with likeminded business-owners and quickly grow her network. “All sessions included interviews with entrepreneurs whose fascinating stories of business growth provided much inspiration and motivation, an informative presentation on topics ranging from finding your ideal customer to pricing models and how to establish valuable connections, and room for open, but facilitated discussions, all expertly woven together by Lucy Paine of alwayspossible.” It was through these events that Roxy was introduced to Business Model Canvas, which “was an absolute game-changer that provided more clarity and confidence than any other business plan.”
Following on from the Reset. Restart sessions, Roxy booked an online one-to-one information clinic with BIPC Information Specialist, Gemma Miller. “There is a wealth of information out there and it can be rather intimidating to explore these extensive databases and conduct benchmark research, but Gemma was very helpful and reassuring, she showed me some of the best options as a filmmaker and photographer. As a sole business owner, I valued the opportunity to talk this through with someone outside of my network. The next step is becoming a member of the library and visiting in person, which - as a bookworm and meticulous researcher – I am very much looking forward to!”
Another business that was born during the lockdown period of the pandemic is Nicola Austin’s Life of Libra. Life of Libra is a Professional Organising and Decluttering business, which began in January 2021.
“Before the pandemic, I was juggling school runs, a long work commute, after school clubs and the everyday pressures of life. I knew how full, cluttered and unbalanced our homes and lives can sometimes feel. The pandemic allowed me valuable time and space to think, read and reflect on my strengths, on what I enjoyed doing and what I wanted to do going forward. After attending a training course run by APDO, (the Associated of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), I decided this was the industry I wanted to work in and joined the organisation. I founded Life of Libra soon after.’
It was through a fellow Professional Organiser at APDO that Nicola became aware of the Reset. Restart programme and she signed up for several of our free webinars. “The sessions were practical, insightful and current. They really impacted my thoughts and actions, especially the sessions on Mindset, Digital Productivity Tools, Business Model, and Products and Services. I reviewed my business case using the Business Model Canvas, re-evaluated my customer segments using the Empathy Map Canvas and considered how best to validate my market research. I learnt about net profit, cash flow and operating costs. I was introduced to Brightbooks, Process Street and Airtable, all free software products that I am now using in the day-to-day running of my business.”
Like Roxy, Nicola then arranged a one-to-one information clinic at the BIPC Brighton & Hove, BIPC Sussex’s regional Centre, where she was given recommendations of networks and people to talk to, suggestions about information resources she could access and websites she could refer to through the library. “I had no idea what to expect, but again found myself impressed. I spent an hour talking to two excellent Information Specialists about my business, my ideas for growth and the challenges I was facing.”
One Dareham-based business, Crescent Research, used BIPC Norfolk and MENTA’s Reset. Restart programme to help generate new business ideas, look at digital marketing tools and strategies, as well as building customer relationships and re-adjusting and re-assessing their cost base.
Tracey, founder of the business, which helps locate missing heirs and reunites individuals with unclaimed assets, also attended networking sessions, which has allowed her to meet other entrepreneurs and hear about their business journeys. “Getting to know others who have also started the new business journey has been beneficial and it’s great to see how everyone is progressing at different stages of their journey, sharing tips, ideas and resources.”
The programme also allowed Tracey to look at the different areas of her business using the Business Model Canvas and focus on the areas which needed more time, resource and thought.
Another Norfolk-based business, bear, founded by Bryony Fayers, which sells sustainable and responsibly sourced products for the family used Reset. Restart for one-to-one sessions with MENTA just as she was starting her business. “The team has been ever so accommodating and understanding about how different people are approaching setting up a new business and for me, it’s been chaotic. The one-to-one sessions have been incredible. The session was warm and relaxed, and so, so useful.”
Lottie Katie Russell, founder of L K Designs, a graphic design and illustration studio, also used BIPC Norfolk’s Reset. Restart networking sessions, “They were so informative and filled with a diverse group of like-minded people in very different fields. They were monthly meetings with a guest speaker at each to discuss different topics that we hadn’t necessarily thought about before. This helped me to drive forward with my small business and put into practice a lot of the skills I had learnt to create my website, social media pages and Etsy shop.”
Another business which benefitted from discussing their ideas with like-minded people was BIPC Worcestershire’s Wise Owl Tuition Kidderminster founder, Danielle Hickey. “The small groups that we worked in enabled us to have more specific discussion that was relevant to our individual business. Feedback on our ideas from the trainers and other participants proved equally valuable. It was most beneficial to be taken seriously as small business owners, but to be supported and be amongst others who were at a similar stage in their young businesses too.”
“The support has enabled me to focus on the next steps for growth of my business, and how to achieve them. It also encouraged me to consider my valuable difference as a business, and what I specifically contribute to the market. I made a timeline business plan in pictorial format to hang on my office wall and have achieved the first three steps of it six months ahead of schedule. The opening of another office suite downstairs and taking on two associate tutors to cope with demand - before I have even started to advertise! I was afraid to look to expand, due to my lack of experience in business. Rob and Phil helped me during my one-to-one to develop the confidence to commit to my ideas.”
08 June 2021
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.
19 March 2021
Not everyone can afford a professional photographer, especially when you are starting a new business and having to spin a number of plates including and not limited to marketing, research and finance... But these days almost everyone has a great camera in their pocket or bag. Today’s smartphones are all pretty good with a good quality lens (or maybe multiple lenses) and software that makes some great photography decisions for you.
I’m Sam Lane and I have been taking photos since I was around 10 years old. I have over 30 years of experience in Marketing Communications working for some amazing brands including Microsoft and I set up a Limited company in 2013 covering both Commercial and Social photography projects. Commercial clients include the British Library, Network Rail and High Speed 1 (that owns and operates St Pancras International station); I have had the pleasure of photographing the Queen, Sir Elton John and John Legend as well as over 85 weddings including two in Australia and one in the US!
So I know what it is like to work in a business and not finding enough time to work on the business. A few years ago the Business & IP Centre ran a(nother) fantastic Start Up Day and invited me to do a session on smartphone photography. This evolved into two-hour workshop – face to face when we are allowed, but now perfectly manageable via Zoom – which gives some practical tips and tricks about how to take better photos using your smartphone, whatever make or model; whatever your skill level; and whatever your business needs.
This workshop is aimed at start-ups, small business owners and entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas but maybe not the money to pay for professional, outsourced help.
We start by looking at ways of optimising your camera phone settings and identifying some features that are going to be helpful as you take more photos – switching on the camera grid being one great example.
We touch on how to actually take a photo, and moving you from taking a snap to taking a more considered photo.
And really getting to grips with storytelling as “a picture speaks a 1000 words”.
We also look at the importance of planning to make sure that you don’t waste your valuable time. Imagine you are paying someone else to take pictures for you – they’d need to know where, when and what you want the photo of, but also why and how they are going to be used…
We focus (you see what I did there?) on what makes a good photo with the key photographic principles of Lighting and Composition. Ever heard of the Rule of thirds for example?
Even as a professional I know that life is too short to spend time editing so I will give you some tips on making simple edits, mainly using the in-camera editing tools, that help take your images from good to great.
We touch on saving, sharing and storing the images and then focus back on YOU.
My favourite part of the workshop (apart from seeing and hearing your “lightbulb moments” – AE/AF Lock to mention just one) is then finding out about your businesses, looking at your website images and social channels and getting peer group insight from other attendees about what looks good and / or could be improved.
I’ve been amazed - and humbled - at the talent I have seen. People who are thinking about it or just starting out; and those already running small businesses and even growing them - from belly dancers and fitness instructors to tango shoes and pet accessory manufacturers – all with unique challenges but the one common factor – the desire for great photos.
From my experience of running the workshops, we all learn something, especially me!
I look forward to seeing new and inspiring people and hope to meet people face to face at the BIPC later in 2021!
You can find Sam's workshops listed on our Events page: https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/workshops-and-events
25 January 2021
Meenesh is the co-founder of Wholey Moly, alongside his wife, Parul. They started their mission to prove that an afternoon snack didn’t have to be a rash, overly sugared vending machine decision by creating delicious cookies made from the best ingredients and free from refined sugar. After taking part in the Innovating for Growth Mentoring scheme in 2017, their cookies were snapped up by some of the finest food retailers in the UK such as Selfridges, Whole Foods and Daylesford. They are new moving towards launching globally and have been using this period of lockdown to focus on improving their digital strategy and recouping retail costs through online rather than in-person sales.
‘We have been on a rollercoaster this year with our little cookie company taking its next steps to become what we imagined. Myself and my wife Parul, have had to keep on our toes since starting our business, especially now with a little cookie monster of our own to take care of.
We successfully applied for the government bounce back loan and we decided to use this to move our strategy from retail to more online focused. We knew it was a completely different kettle of fish and decided to take on some help for this and so we hired an E-commerce Growth Manager to help us create a more digital led strategy to get our name out there online.
During this madness we have been doing our best to connect with retail suppliers and stockists ready for the re-opening of stores and have been getting some great results. It is refreshing to see the support retailers and external organisations have in the underdogs/ family run businesses. So hopefully the public will be able to taste our cookies in shops and cafes near you soon.
Here’s a look at what a week can look like, but I have to be honest it rarely flows to plan, it all depends on what projects we have going on for example at the end of 2020 we had a rebrand of the business and launched a new webshop so for 3 months it was all about branding, website development and digital marketing.
Friday It is probably better to start with Friday afternoon as that is when I plan my following week.
I have a 3 month plan which I try to break down each week, it doesn’t always go to plan but it ensures I’m moving in the right direction. The weekly plan means I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing come Monday Morning.
Monday My day typically starts around 6am when I squeeze in a bit of exercise – but I have to be honest it’s not always the case. From 7-9am is a daily battle of getting our son who is 3 years old up, fed and packed off to nursery.
My working day then starts at around 9am.
Mondays I cover operations. This means looking at stock levels, forecasting ahead and scheduling new production runs. I also try to catch up on any industry news, reading The Grocer/LinkedIn etc.
Tuesday I keep a minimum of 2 full days for sales, I follow up on any sales leads from prior weeks and work on new business development.
This can mean anything from calls, site visits (although not so much under the current climate) and preparing presentations.
Wednesday I find that meetings can be quite disruptive for productivity so try and schedule my meetings all on the same day – usually Wednesday!
The calls vary massively including funding, sales, industry calls, networking and being pitched at from suppliers.
It can be quite a full on day so I try and get out for a walk on some calls.
Thursday Back to sales! Here I follow up from anything on Tuesday but I also spend time with our e-commerce manager and Amazon person looking at our online sales and how we can better optimise it.
We are new to e-commerce so there’s a lot to learn and I find it quite fun to tinker with the various marketing levers.
Friday I leave Friday to catch up on all back office things, most notably finances – paying bills, issuing invoices, doing cashflows.
I tend to clear out my inbox and then look at my 3 month plan and start to plan the following week.
Since lockdown I really miss those water cooler conversations so I’ve started to book in calls with my peers just to have a chin wag on Fridays, which is a great way to finish off the week.
Make sure to check out our new website and if you would like to try any cookies here’s a discount code for our fellow British Library businesses BRITLIB20.
08 December 2020
Teal is a digital platform with a mission to demystify food allergies and empower the estimated 2 million food allergy sufferers in the UK. It provides practical support for allergy-sufferers (and carers) in the event of a reaction with key emergency features including translations, e-commerce access to free-from products, education, and community to bridge the gap between individuals, the medical fraternity; brands and businesses to name a few. The name itself comes from the international colour for food allergies and stands for clarity and communication.
We spoke to Caron, co-founder of Teal, about the very personal story behind the multi-digital support platform including website, web based and native apps and how it came into being, with the support of Start-ups in London Libraries.
‘My three year old daughter suffers from life threatening food allergies and experienced her first anaphylaxis a year ago while abroad - this was a poignant moment in our life as to how we need to protect her future. Suddenly being transported into this world within the last three years, it became apparent how common it is to a have fragmented & long winded journey to diagnosis and management; with reliance on limited offline touch-points for support. Like many others we have spent a lot of time on “Dr Google” and Social Media which may not necessarily provide qualified or correct information. We spotted a gap as it seems there is not many apps in the food allergy space, and none that provide holistic support.
The UK has 2 million allergy sufferers of which 8% of UK children are allergic reactors. The rise in allergic reactions in the last 20 years has cost the NHS £900m in admissions and primary care with reactions peaking at 16-25 year olds and outside the home. Additionally, the Free-From industry has doubled in five years to an estimated £934m in 2019 as reported by Mintel, combined factors of a growing space and market. There is currently limited online and offline support for the UK allergy community; a mobile first; internet driven, tech savvy country as reported by OfCom in 2020.
The motivation to start Teal was to ensure that my daughter and millions others like her are not held back from living their best life as a result of their allergies; and that their parents don’t struggle for information like we did. I wanted to be in control of doing all I can to improve her future and instrumental in driving change. So often they are isolated and excluded as a result of not having the right information or support. As this next generation has been born with technology, it made sense to develop a digital solution so that families like ours and children in their independence have immediate access to the key tools that will help reduce allergic reactions and provide support through emergencies.
Following my daughter’s birth I gave up working to concentrate and care for her various medical conditions and complicated paediatric pathway. My previous professional experience was developing customer strategies so I am passionate about the world from the individual’s point of view. I also spent the last two years up-skilling as a qualified digital marketer through the CIM, as digitisation is driving the future for the next generations and there is a need to be relevant to support them and integrate online and offline experiences.
Pandemic or not, allergies are on the rise. COVID-19 was a massive factor for launching now, as Teal has become more relevant for families - the reliance on digitisation, anxiety around food shortages, external factors as the economy reopens and education resumes. All these highlighted that we need to provide more support in a post-pandemic environment as allergies are increasing and a growing concern. It makes business sense to support the individuals themselves and also the enterprises that serve them; which is packaged within our platform.
I knew I wanted to do something to empower and support others, but was not able to conceptualise or verbalise these ambitions until I started attending the Start-ups in London Libraries workshops. I initially had a few ideas I wanted to develop, but needed to clarify and validate which direction to follow.
Learning about the different ways to start a business and speaking with the facilitators at the SILL workshops gave me confidence to develop and research the validity of TEAL, as it was clear I was passionate about supporting the food allergy community from my discussions.
The timing of my personal experiences and support from the SILL team have been invaluable in setting up my business. The practical considerations and advice in the initial steps on how to get started from an idea to then developing it spring-boarded the birth of Teal. The best first advice was to research, research, research. This is part of my daily mantra now and expanding my knowledge and opportunities for the business.
Sophie [our Start-ups in London Libraries Champion for Croydon] is an absolute gem - and a hidden secret! The value she continues to provide is in her ability to listen to your story and identify your needs. She is proactive about finding solutions and linking you to valid resources and connections that will progress your entrepreneurial journey.
She has been accessible even through lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions and has a wealth of knowledge and a great sounding board. Sophie clearly has an entrepreneurial mindset and has an inbuilt directory of valid contacts and practical sources of information. I have taken advantage of tapping into her 1-2-1 support and feel as if she is poised to help me succeed.
I fear that without starting the SILL project I may still be sitting on my business ideas and further behind where I am, and for that I am incredibly grateful and indebted.
I’ve learnt so much during starting up my business. Most notably that it’s not necessarily an overnight process, it will take time to develop and see the results. It is important to have stamina, so start with a plan and achievable objectives and goals along the way to measure your performance and success.
Testing is important - the idea, how it is communicated, your solutions. This will make the business stronger, because the feedback and data will provide invaluable insights for making informed decisions. Agility is important - with the ever changing socio-economic landscape, this will help leverage your opportunities and mitigate your risks.
Start and grow your network consistently - you never know who you meet and the influence they will have in the future direction and success of your business. Align yourself with people who share your ethos, values and integrity. My Co-Founder Joey; is a life long severe nut allergy sufferer and has been a rock through this year – even though he is based in the US and all our work has been remote. We are also supported by our amazing Champion Ambassador Julianne Ponan, CEO of Creative Nature Superfoods; who through her multiple-allergies created a brand around superfoods and snacks that are top 14 allergen free, vegan and organic.
My final advice to future entrepreneurs who are at the stage of wanting to start a business is to start! Start the process - research - what is the need that you are satisfying, is there a demand? Is someone else doing it, if so what are you doing differently and what is going to make you stand out? Until you start the process it will only remain an idea, so have the courage to initiate - write it down and research it. It may be the best thing you ever do and ignite an exciting and sustainable mission.
As for the website, web and native app versions of Teal, it has just launched! We are really excited about what we are bringing to the market. Keep an eye out on our social channels or sign up to our mailing list so that we can keep you updated on this. Joey and I also host the weekly Teal podcast that sources the best resources so that the allergy community don’t miss out on life’s best moments; and showcase the best of what the international allergy and free-from community has to offer.
We are also passionate about supporting other enterprises in the allergy and free from community, so please do reach out to see how we can work together. We believe in strong collaborations and growing entrepreneurship to better serve individuals impacted by allergies.
For more on Teal, visit www.teal-app.com.
For more on Start-ups in London Libraries and how to register for our upcoming workshop, visit www.bl.uk/SiLL.
16 November 2020
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.
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.
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.
- How to create a pitch deck to secure investment offers
- How to create an executive summary to get investor meetings
- How to create a financial model to gain investor commitment
- How to raise equity capital through crowdfunding
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.
Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.
Innovation and enterprise blog recent posts
- Shop local this festive season
- How Do We Sell Sustainability to Consumers?
- Turn your brilliant idea into a business
- The Pandemic Business Boom
- Revisiting our Reset. Restarters
- Nurture your ambitions with the Business & IP Centre National Network
- Meet our delivery partner: Sam Lane
- A Week in the Life of Meenesh Mistry, founder of Wholey Moly
- Meet Caron Pollard, founder of Teal and Start-ups in London Libraries participant
- Meet our delivery partner: Paul Grant, The Funding Game