Innovation and enterprise blog

04 October 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on at the British Library

Add comment

Start-up Day promo banner

With Start-up Day 2019 drawing closer, we take a look at what’s going on in London and introduce you to some of our speakers…

Whether you’re looking for motivation, practical advice or some tailored advice, Start-up Day is for you. Our full day of free talks in the Knowledge Centre cover a range of business topics, from UK trends, advertising, mental health and more, you’ll be able to apply what you learn directly to you and your business practices.

If you want to know more about the UK market trends, Mintel’s Jack Duckett will be looking at the ‘experience economy’ and how businesses can stay relevant in today’s competitive market.

Jack Duckett
Jack specialises in reports exploring, the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

How do you combine profit with purpose? 24% of last year’s Start-up Day attendees said their motivation to start a business was the opportunity to make a difference. With our partners at Expert Impact, we’ve brought today a panel of case studies to discuss how they built a thriving business that helps makes the world a better place and how you might be able to maximise the positive difference you make as you turn your business idea into a reality. Moderated by Lee Mannion, Head of Communications and Community at Expert Impact

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion is the communications manager for Expert Impact. He previously worked as a journalist for four years, writing stories about social enterprises for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Pioneers Post.

If advertising is causing you confusion, Arjun from the Facebook Family of Apps will be talking you through how to define your advertising goals, reaching your target audience and how to measure a successful advertising campaign and more. This talk will not be webcast.

Arjun Paliwal Facebook
Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook Family of Apps.

Mental health impacts both business and personal lives and at last year’s Start-up Day, 16% of people said they wanted to start a business to improve their work/life balance. At our talk on how to build a business without burning out, Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign, presented by Dane Krambergar, and Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company will arm you with strategies to keep on-track when it all gets a bit too much.

Dane Krambergar - Mind
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services.

Whether the idea of networking can fill you with dread or confidence, to build a sustainable business, networking is key. Our panel will talk you through how they mastered the art of building their networks to allow their businesses to grow.

Ken Davey
Ken is an experienced business to business corporate sales specialist and SME business owner, mentor, author and international business advisor, with a strong business development, marketing, commercial and financial management background.

20% of 2018’s Start-up Day attendees said that lack of finance held them back from starting a business, but can you start-up on a shoestring? Our panel, founders of We Built This City, BathrommsByDesign and Pip & Nut, share their hints and tips for keeping costs low as you scale your business.

Sam Colwil
Sam, founder of BathroomsByDesign, a multi-channel retailer who invest heavily in proprietary technology to help service customers more effectively with our 3D design software, customer VR app, online shop, customer portal and ERP system.

Holding the day together will be Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor, best known for her radio show Self-Central on Colourful Radio and host for the Precious Lifestyle Awards and Precious Nights.

Lisa Bent
Lisa Bent

Our keynote speaker will be Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.

Steph has progressed from Black & Decker engineer to BBC Breakfast business reporter and co-presenter as well as fronting Watchdog, Pocket Money Pitch, Made in Great Britain, and Shop Well For Less. In the process, she’s been trained in lean production, explained monetary and economic policy, danced an impromptu Irish jig live on-air – and been subject of an awkward mistaken identity in Grimsby Fish Market.

Steph McGovern
Steph McGovern

It isn’t just our free talks taking place on the day, we have a workshop on how to use the Business & IP Centre, plus a tour; free headshots and advice on how business photography and speed mentoring.

Experts will be on hand throughout the day to give advice on a range of topics including:

  • Protecting your business idea
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • What you need to know about standards and regulations
  • Managing cash-flow
  • Getting your business online
  • Funding your start-up
  • Building your business brand

To book your place or to find the closest Start-up Day to you, visit our event page.

01 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 - What's going on in the Start-ups in London Libraries boroughs

Add comment

SUD-Promo-banner-944x90px

Start-up Day takes place on 11 October and the libraries involved in our brand new Start-ups in London Libraries programme did not want to miss out on being a part of the BIPC's biggest day of the year. For the first time ever, events will not only be taking place across the country in our BIPCs but also in the SiLL London boroughs - Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The London boroughs have drawn on their local resources and localised knowledge to bring specific start-up advice to each of their business communities.

There are activities going on from morning to evening across our partner boroughs. For more details, have a look below and click on any of the links to register our place in your local borough:

Morning

Some of our boroughs are taking part in our co-ordinated coffee morning which is a great chance for networking and to meet your local Champion. If you are close to Walthamstow Library, Brixton Library, the Woolwich Centre or Bexley’s Central Library, register your place at these links and pop along for a coffee and a chat.

If you’re looking for advice on digital marketing, stay on at Woolwich Library for a workshop on the topic, which will aim to help you identify the right channels for your business and give you advice on building your digital community through them. This is followed by a workshop on personal branding between 13.30 and 14.30.

From 10.30-13.00, Croydon will be having a mammoth Start-up Roadshow, with local exhibitors, such as Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and Croydon Business Hub, and organisations like Santander who will be on-hand to offer guidance and advice. It’s also a great opportunity to network so make sure to book your spot if you are near South London and head to Croydon Central Library for that.

Between 11.00-12.00 and 14.00-15.00, Tower Hamlets will be running introductory sessions to the library business resources at Idea Store Whitechapel. These workshops will take you through key information sources accessible in your library that can help enhance your business performance. Attendees can also use their own smartphones to access the Council website and be guided by staff to some of the services that have moved online. To request more information on Tower Hamlets’ Start-up Day offering, please email the local Champion.

People networking at Start-ups in London Libraries workshop

Afternoon

If you aren’t able to make it to the British Library for our jam packed afternoon of talks, some of the borough libraries are live streaming the panels and speeches direct to their libraries. You can find these at:

If you need help researching your market and protecting your idea, some of the boroughs are focusing on COBRA – the Complete Business Reference Advisor – Southwark is running a whole day training session on the system which you can book for here, while Newham is running a session on the system as well which is bookable here.

Lambeth’s afternoon session will be between 12.00 and 13.45 and will be led by Drew London, a Lambeth-based branding and digital communications agency. The masterclass will be on branding and digital communications so head to Brixton Library if this is an area you are looking to focus on and are looking for tried and tested advice.

Lewisham will be hosting Santander who will give a talk on several topics such as cybersecurity (14.00 – 14.45), funding and finance (15.00 – 15.45) and starting a business on a shoestring (16.00 – 16.45) at Lewisham Library. With time for questions, it is sure to be a comprehensive afternoon with expert advice on starting up.

Participant talking during workshop

Evening

We are not 9-5 people in the boroughs so we also have some events taking place in the evening. If you are based near Haringey, there will be a talk on how to grow your Business and Client Base using Digital Media with local partners from Visual Marvelry, 4U2 and Frame Perfect

SEO is a term that can be thrown around yet still remain a bit of a mystery, yet it's integral to getting your business' name out there. Newham aim to help debunk it by running an evening talk by SEO expert, Mike Loomey, on making the most of Google for your business.

Lewisham will be hosting evening networking drinks between 17.00-18.00, while Lambeth’s drinks event is in collaboration with Brixton Bid until 18.30.

Two participants talking and networking

So whether you decide to hop around different boroughs on the day or choose one and soak up everything that borough has to offer, Start-up Day is sure to have something that will set you on the road to making your idea a reality.

You can find a round up each of the borough’s booking links (where applicable) below:

25 September 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on around the Network

Add comment

Start-up Day 2019

It’s not only the British Library hosting Start-up Day 2019, this year we have over 40 public libraries around the country holding their own Start-up Days. The day aims to support start-ups and small business owners with talks, workshops and interactive sessions designed to take the first steps towards turning a business idea into a successful enterprise.

On average, our National Network helps create an average of 15 new businesses every working day[1]. Most of these were started at home, with 40% of them beginning in a home office and almost a third from the kitchen table. These new businesses are far exceeding national averages for success rates – 90% of them are still trading after three years, compared to UK-wide rates of 60%.

Here you can find a snapshot of the highlights going on around the country and discover what your local Business & IP Centre will be doing for the day…

Start-up Day Birmingham

If you’re in or near Birmingham, they will be running activities including:

  • Market research using IBISWorld
  • Brexit & business with Enterprise Europe Network
  • Why your IP is valuable with Forresters

Start-up Day Brighton & Hove

Our new pilot centre will be live streaming some of the British Library talks and panels and introducing the new BIPC.

Start-up Day Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

A wide variety of drop in sessions throughout the day at Cambridge Central Library with organisations and businesses including:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Prince’s Trust
  • Santander
  • Growth Hub

They also have free headshots with Elton Cilliers, a start-up photographer himself, as well as talks on decluttering for business, fraud and cyber-crime as well as live streaming some of the talks from the British Library.

In Peterborough, they will be holding one-to-ones on accountancy, legal advice and intellectual property, amongst other workshops.

Start-up Day Devon

Taking place in both Exeter and Barnstaple, there will be a full programme with workshops and talks on:

Exeter

  • IBISWorld
  • Introduction to intellectual property
  • FabLab tours
  • Marketing videos on a budget with BitPod
  • How to avoid legal mistakes with Cartridges Law

Barnstaple

  • Branding with South West Growth Hub
  • Bookkeeping with Mark Ponsonby Blue Ink Bookkeeping
  • Panel on the challenges of starting up
  • IBISWorld

Start-up Day Glasgow

BIPC Glasgow is our only Centre in Scotland and will be running a day of workshops and talks, such as:

  • Finance with Santander
  • Lifecycles of a company
  • Trade mark starter pack

Throughout the day there will be option to watch the live stream from the British Library as well as talk to relevant businesses and organisations at their trade stands, including:

  • NLS
  • Prince’s Trust
  • Santander
  • Codeworks
  • Gilson Gray
  • People Plus
  • Business Gateway
  • Jobs & Business Glasgow
  • Trading Standards

Start-up Day Hull

For those thinking of starting a business in Hull, you can attend workshops and talks on:

  • What you need to do in the first 90 days to increase your chance of business success
  • IBISWorld
  • Developing a social enterprise
  • Market research with Mintel
Hull Start-up Day 2018
Hull Start-up Day 2018

Start-up Day Leeds

As well as some of the talks being streamed from the British Library, BIPC Leeds will be running talks and workshops on:

  • Getting inside customers’ heads with Ad:Venture
  • Global trends with Mintel
  • Personal branding with Stepp Digital
  • How to combine profit with purpose with Agency for Good

There will also be a Start-up Stars panel, with local entrepreneurs about how they started their business.

Start-up Day Liverpool

For those in and around Liverpool you can get tips on marketing your small business and accounting, as well as hearing from local entrepreneurs, such as Owen Drew Luxury Candles.

Start-up Stars Liverpool Start-up Day 2018
Liverpool Start-up Day 2018

Start-up Day Manchester

Start-up Day is not only taking place in Manchester Central Library, but throughout the region in Ashton-Under-Lyme Library, Blackpool Central Library, Bolton Central Library, Eccles Library, Oldham Library & Lifelong Learning Centre, Preston Library and Stockport Library. You can find networking and coffee mornings, speed mentoring as well as talks on:

  • Preparing your business plan with Santander
  • Marketing with Tidal Wave Consulting
  • How to be a healthy and confident entrepreneur with Amina Waldron
  • How to tell your story with Steve Rawling
  • 10 mistakes I made in year one with a local panel of entrepreneurs

For a detailed programme in your local library, please contact the library directly for their full schedule of events.

Manchester Three Rivers Gin - Machester
Manchester Start-up Day 2018 with Three Rivers Gin

Start-up Day Newcastle

Join BIPC Newcastle for workshops on setting targets and goals, branding and IP, as well as a coffee morning with their experts in residence.

Start-up Day Norfolk

Whether you’re in Norwich, Kings Lynn, Thetford or Great Yarmouth, there will be talks for you. Each Library will have a networking coffee morning and streaming of British Library events. There will be more talks in Norwich, including topics such as getting your product to market, creative product development and start-up funding.

Start-up Day Northamptonshire

A full day of talks and networking will be taking place which includes how to manage your Portfolio Career and maximising the benefits of networking amongst others.

Start-up Day Nottingham

BIPC Nottingham will be hosting two presentations as well as speed mentoring and a networking coffee morning during the day.

Start-up Day Sheffield

A variety of business-related talks, which include:

  • Tips when starting a business with Business Sheffield
  • Researching your business with IBISWorld
  • A start-up journey with local entrepreneur Katie Bain
  • Using social media to boost your business
  • Social enterprise and investment
  • The Sheffield tech scene with Digital Llama

Start-up Day Worcestershire

Our new pilot centre will be running business support clinics all day with Enterprising Worcestershire as well as hosting talks on:

  • Digital marketing and social media with Quick by Design
  • Crowdfunding with Be The Change Café
  • Business plans with Blue Orchid
  • How to assess your big idea with Blue Orchid

For more information on Start-up Day or to book your place in any of our Business & IP Centres, click here to visit our event page.

 

[1] Economic Impact Survey 2019. Analysis from January 2016 – December 2018.

16 September 2019

Inside an ethical fashion business

Add comment

Our Project Manager for the Business & IP Centre's scale-up programme, Innovating for Growth, Vanesa, not only manages the programme by day, but also runs her own sustainable fashion business by night, weekend and everything in between. Here she discusses why she started her side hustle and what values are important to her business.

Vanesa Vinhas jumpsuit

Vanesa Vinhas is a sustainable fashion brand for women, the idea starting when Vanesa couldn’t find ethical clothing in her style below the £500 price mark. “My designs are aimed at women who are looking for elegant and chic sustainable clothes at reasonable prices. Our style takes classic cuts and gives them a contemporary twist, using good quality organic or recycled fabrics. Most of our outfits are the sort of thing you could wear for work or pleasure.” After launching in July 2018 her products have been selling online through her Vanesa Vinhas website, online sustainable fashion marketplaces like MAMOQ and pop-up shops around London.

Starting a business seemed inevitable as Vanesa explains, “It’s definitely something in the blood. I took the name ‘Vinhas’ from my grandma - it means ‘vineyard’ in Spanish. She built two highly successful food shops after becoming widowed in post-Civil War Spain and had to provide for her children. Back then Spain was very much a ‘man’s world’ and life was very hard. But she was a really brave lady and a strong character. She also helped a lot of people in her local area who were in need. My dad followed in her footsteps, starting his own factory and helping a lot of people to start their own businesses. So ‘business talk’ has always been familiar to me from early childhood - but rooted as well in a very strong set of values.”

Seeing first-hand the amount of determination and energy it takes to start and run a business didn’t deter her. “I always had doubts about starting a business myself. My career choice at the start was to support other entrepreneurs. And for over a decade, here in London and also New York, I have done that, helping people at all stages of growing small businesses. But several years’ back I took an evening course in fashion design at St Martins’ and the idea of starting my own line of clothes took root.”

Vanesa Vinhas kaftan

If it wasn’t making dresses for her dolls as a child, or getting hooked on clothes through her three sisters (and the hand-me-downs), which sparked her love of clothes, her career starting in the fashion industry, working for the fashion designer Antonio Miró did. “I can spend hours looking at clothes and never get bored! Last year I finally decided to go part-time at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre so I could set up my clothing brand. In the end the ‘bug’ got me!”

Vanesa started with a simple principle, “our customers shouldn’t have to make a choice between looking good and wearing clothes that have been made responsibly. Sadly most of the clothes on sale today are made in a way that creates so much waste and damage, often in the poorest parts of the world”. From there the creative part begins, “I usually start with a mood board where I play around with ideas, before I start to draw concept designs. The history of the garment itself and the people who’ve made it iconic is a big part of my inspiration. Like Elizabeth Taylor wearing a kaftan in the Palm Springs desert. What interests me is how garments can be identified with a certain place. The jumpsuit collection is inspired by London. The jumpsuit is an outfit with a lot of history, but also very 21st Century. It's something you can wear for work or play. A bit like Londoners, it’s very versatile and constantly reinventing itself.” She then works with a freelance seamstress who works from her home in East London with hourly rates well over the London Living Wage. The outfits are made from GOTS certified organic cotton and TENCEL and are delivered to the customer in recycled packaging by Royal Mail. 10% of the profits go to charities that empower women facing injustice, violence and poverty. 

Vanesa Vinhas collection

Waste is something Vanesa is very cautious of, “I don’t want to make clothes that end up in landfill, so we make small batches and repeat orders in response to demand. Most importantly, I design my clothes for customers who want to feel stylish wearing something day in and day out until it is literally beyond repair”.

Other social causes impact the way Vanesa Vinhas is run, making sure those who make the clothes get a fair salary and work in safe conditions, all values Vanesa grew up with. “My family always took being an employer as an important responsibility. I come from a small town and as a child it was easy to see the role that our businesses had in the community. Buying organic isn’t just about the environment, it also means workers, often in developing countries, aren’t exposed to dangerous chemicals and have basic workplace rights. I couldn’t imagine having a partner in my business who isn’t treated fairly - it’s out of the equation.”

The customer is also an important consideration, “the end product has got to be an essential component of someone’s wardrobe. For me that’s something you can wear day in day out, and feel comfortable in, at work or with friends. The process of making this takes time and a lot of team work, but it’s where the magic happens. It involves sourcing the right fabric, getting the design right with my pattern maker and then figuring out how to construct the clothing with the seamstress or manufacturer. Everything needs to come together - the style, the quality of the fabric, the sustainability of the product and at an affordable price.”

Looking ahead, Vanesa’s looking at future growth and where she sees the business in the future,the brand is very new and I am still learning. What I’m working towards is that by the end of 2020 I can be profitable enough to take a part-time salary. It seems small, but the reality is that businesses take time to be profitable. It would be a big achievement as a micro-entrepreneur!”

Vanesa is currently investing everything she gets back from sales into the business. “I have chosen to grow organically instead of looking for external funding. I would like to continue designing a few new pieces each year and bringing back my most popular garments. My key focus is to increase direct sales through my website and be listed on more online platforms, pop-up shops and boutiques. I am very excited that I am soon going to be joining Gather & See an online sustainable fashion marketplace.”

Working at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre has also been beneficial, “It’s a fantastic place to work and I get to help some amazing entrepreneurs who come through the Innovating for Growth programme, so the business needs to fit around this.” Vanesa has also taken advantage of the market research reports, such as Mintel to access consumer trends, specialist sector-specific workshops which take place at the Business & IP Centre with Fashion Angel, as well as other workshops such as PR with Jessica Huie.

As with any business, there are highs, lows and lightbulb moments, “one of my most memorable moments was doing the first ever shoot for Vanesa Vinhas. The collection was inspired by a trip to the California desert earlier that year when I had my lightbulb moment and realised I wanted to start a ‘slow fashion’ brand, but I didn’t have the budget to go back so soon, so I had to find a creative solution.

“One evening I’d been joking with my husband about using the Tabernas desert in South Spain where the Sergio Leone ‘spaghetti westerns’ and Lawrence of Arabia were filmed. Then we realised it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. And could be combined with our summer holiday!

Vanesa Vinhas
Vanesa, founder of Vanesa Vinhas

“On the day, everything started to go very badly - the model cancelled, some of the samples were delayed and I fell down a marble staircase at the hotel and hurt my arm. But then it all started to go back on track. The photographer Michael knew the desert and the light by the back of his hand, and he found our model Cristina. Together they really captured the mood I wanted the clothes to evoke. It’s moments like this, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, that are the most rewarding!”

 

For more information on the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, visit our website. To see more of Vanesa's collection, visit Vanesa Vinhas' website.

09 September 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Alasdair Inglis, Grow

Add comment

Alasdair Inglis has been running marketing masterclasses at The British Library Business & IP Centre for a decade and is our Marketer In Residence.

Grow pic

He runs two marketing masterclasses at the British Library Business & IP Centre.

About the Digital Marketing Masterclass

The digital marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs gain clarity about their digital marketing strategy, so they can focus their spending and efforts on gaining new customers.

The masterclass covers inbound marketing, email marketing best practice, the basics of SEO and keyword research, using Google Ads, content marketing, blogging and paid Facebook marketing.

The masterclass demystifies digital marketing so every attendee understands the key areas of digital marketing. Everyone gets a 25-page workbook with plenty of step-by-step instructions. There are opportunities to meet and work with other entrepreneurs during the workshop and questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their digital marketing.

Grow

About the Marketing Masterclass

The marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs focus on their marketing strategy and business model. The masterclass covers understanding customers' key problems, how to focus on ideal customers, learning how to increase revenues from every customer, mapping out and improving customer journeys, creating a system to gather testimonials, how to create offers for new customers and where to hire part-time marketing people.

There is lots of partner work during the workshop and all attendees get a 26-page bound workbook. Questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their marketing strategy.

Grow workshop

Who should attend the Marketing Masterclasses?

Alasdair’s masterclasses are aimed at start-ups, aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs with established businesses. His practical no-nonsense style of teaching and the in-depth workbooks enable people with differing levels of knowledge too all benefit.

What can attendees expect in the Masterclasses?

Attendees can expect a fast paced, practical approach to learning marketing with minimal theory and jargon. Expect to meet with and work with other entrepreneurs during the sessions. Alasdair understands that a lot of learning comes from group discussion and questions so expect some lively interactions.

In every workbook there’s an exercise at the end to create your own personalised marketing action plan.

About Alasdair Inglis

Alasdair has taught his marketing masterclasses to thousands of entrepreneurs, and is the BIPC’s marketer in residence where he offers pro bono sessions every month to established business owners. He has taught marketing on the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme, and teaches and mentors at The School for Social Entrepreneurs in London and at Idea London, a tech incubator.

Though his company Grow Alasdair has mentored hundreds of Scale-up entrepreneurs from the London area and he lives and breathes marketing. He comes from an entrepreneurial family in the highlands of Scotland where his father and uncle ran restaurants for over 50 years.

 

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

26 July 2019

Working the crowd - how to successfully crowdfund

Add comment

My Friend Charlie is an offline dating events company based in London, offering unique activities at local venues for sociable singles. In the past 18 months, the business has gained significant traction - with an engaged database of over 2,000 users and over 50 events held in London alone, which have attracted 700+ attendees. 

Here we talk to My Friend Charlie's founder and Innovating for Growth alumni, Charlotte Spokes, about how her company successfully crowdfunded when they were setting up, and she helps us to demystify the complexity of crowdfunding. 

Let’s start right at the very beginning, what is equity crowdfunding?

In short, you are asking the ‘crowd’ (family, friends and strangers) to invest money into your business in exchange for equity. The appeal of crowdfunding is that most people invest small amounts (anything from £10), so it allows everyday investors to get involved where previously they wouldn’t have been able to. The main platforms for equity crowdfunding in the UK are Crowdcube, Seedrs and SyndicateRoom, but there are lots of others, so do your research to see which will be the best fit for your business, based on the industry and the amount you need to raise. There are lots of success stories from these platforms including BrewDog, Monzo and Revolut, and of course there are much smaller companies raising money there too.

Charlotte Spokes, founder of My Friend Charlie

Why do people choose crowdfunding over other methods of raising money?

There are many ways to raise money to finance a start-up, but crowdfunding has a very strong appeal to early-stage businesses and for good reason, most importantly the fact that it is quite straightforward. It also works as a way of getting external validation or marketing your business to a whole new audience and, when potential investors ask questions on your pitch, it’s a useful way of getting feedback on points you may not have considered. Given that crowdfunding campaign costs are based on a successful raise, it can be an inexpensive way to raise funds, and relatively low-risk to do too. As long as you’ve got the skills, the upfront costs for producing your video and writing your pitch can be kept to a minimum.

What are the pitfalls of crowdfunding?

The biggest downside is that if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get any of the funds raised, and you’ve done a lot of work for no reward. This means it is a high stress, high energy process that takes several months to prepare for and then carry out with no guarantee of success. Plus, you have to be prepared for questions and a lot of constructive criticism, as you’re opening your business up to scrutiny from not only your nearest and dearest but a whole host of seasoned investors.

What made your campaign for equity crowdfunding successful?

There isn’t a single factor that made our campaign a success but there are four critical points which ensured we hit our target:

  • Traction - as an existing business we could show what we had done to date: what worked, what didn't, and where our clients came from. In essence, we had proof of concept before going out to the crowd. This isn’t always the case and doesn’t mean that without traction you can’t raise successfully but it helped us to clarify our pitch and put it across succinctly to investors.
  • Preparation - be prepared to answer lots of questions (and the same ones over and over again). We created a crib sheet so that when the same questions came through we could copy and paste answers that we knew were well thought through, rather than rush a response because we felt time-pressured. It also helped to keep our messaging consistent and on-brand.
  • Raising privately - we raised 39% from our private network before going live to the public network. You can go publicly live at 20% on Crowdcube but you’ve got a much higher chance of success if you raise as much as you can from your own network first, which means family, friends, your business network, and existing guests/clients.
  • Social media - we really hammered this. We posted on every channel available to us, including our personal accounts, for the duration of the private and public raise. LinkedIn is a great tool here - use it to your advantage and start making people aware of the opportunity as early as possible. We learned quickly that people take a long time to make decisions when it comes to parting with money.

Charlotte Spokes at one of her events

How did you promote your campaign?

Social media was our main channel but we also sent our regular updates through our own newsletter and via the Crowdcube platform. I spent a lot of time emailing anyone who’d shown interest in the campaign and followed up with them regularly. We also had a dedicated landing page on our website to make sure we reached as many people as possible. We decided not to spend money on paid advertising on Facebook or Google Ads, as we’d heard that the return on investment is low and we didn’t have a big marketing budget.

Who can help prepare my Crowdcube pitch?

We opted to use Drop Studio and signed up to their crowdfunding accelerator as well as getting them to produce our pitch video. This basically gave us a marketing team for the duration of the raise and we couldn't have managed without them. There are lots of companies offering a similar service, so do your research and find someone who fits your needs and budget.

A My Friend Charlie offline dating event

What are SEIS & EIS?

SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) and EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) are UK government tax relief schemes for investors and they are incredibly generous.

SEIS allow an eligible investor to claim 50% on investments up to £100,000 per tax year in qualifying shares issued on or after 6 April 2012 .

EIS is aimed at the wealthier, more sophisticated investors. People can invest up to £1,000,000 in any tax year and receive 30% tax relief. However, they are locked into the scheme for a minimum of three years.

They are great tools to help persuade investors to part with their money by effectively reducing their financial risk.

It is dependent on each individual and there are certain criteria for the business in order to get advanced assurance so it’s worth getting some advice on this. Additionally it takes around six weeks to get advanced assurance so apply early!

What’s next for My Friend Charlie?

It’s all go! We’ve just launched our own events and CRM platform. We’ve built it from scratch based on the pain points we’ve encountered over the last two years and it’s looking great, and we’ve got native apps to follow which are based off the same tech. We opened in Bristol last month (which was incidentally the day after our second birthday!) and we’ve got three more cities in the pipeline (Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh). It all started with our crowdfunding pitch and look at us now!

22 July 2019

PRECIOUS Nights at Manchester Library

Add comment

Business & IP Centre Manchester became the first venue outside of London to host PRECIOUS Nights, an evening aimed at professional women of colour. 

PRECIOUS Nights 2

The founder of PRECIOUS Awards, Foluke Akinlose MBE FRSA, is a Mancunian at heart, so it was extra special being able to host the event in her city.

Foluke explained, "It was hugely exciting to take PRECIOUS Nights on the road and even more exciting for me personally to host the first one in Manchester, my home town.

“It was also a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work of three Manchester based entrepreneurs contributing so successfully to the GDP of the city and beyond. We had a lovely audience, they were really welcoming and engaged which led to a very open and honest conversation about being a women of colour in business in modern Britain. Huge thanks Manchester Business & IP Centre for hosting us so warmly. We cannot wait to go back!"

As well as hearing Foluke's story, the rest of the panel included:

Roselene Thomas: Director and founder of Thomas UK Consulting Services Ltd, a company that provides IT software testing services with headquarters in Manchester, UK and offices in India.  

Dijonn Taylor: Founder of two award-winning businesses. Starting with a desire to empower and reward children at all levels of education through experiencing a traditional graduation ceremony, in 1997 she staged the first ever cap and gown graduation ceremony in the UK at a Manchester Primary School. Soon after her business Young Graduate was born.

Her second business venture Savvy Guest was created to facilitate pre-career meetups between adults and employees for pre-career chats. Dijonn realised people were experiencing barriers when trying to gain access to employers for a conversation to gain realistic career tips and insight into job roles and the industry.

Lisa Maynard Atem: Social media strategist with a proven track record at the world’s most famous luxurious department store, Harrods, where she worked with numerous luxury brands including CHANEL, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and GUCCI.

Lisa built and developed a global social portfolio that now boasts over 2.5 million followers across key social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Harrods is now the most followed luxury department store in Europe on Instagram and one of the most followed in the world, with over 1.1 million followers.

It was hosted by transformational counsellor, blogger and the founder of Self-Central, Lisa Bent.

Audiences at PRECIOUS Nights can hear from previous PRECIOUS Awards finalists and winners about their business journey, get actionable tips, be inspired and build networks with new contacts. The PRECIOUS Awards were founded in 2007 to celebrate and applaud the professional achievements of women of colour in the UK. The organization has a dynamic and passionate following, gained over twelve years of bringing brilliant women into the spotlight and celebrating the 'Best of British' by recognising and rewarding exceptional determination, innovation and entrepreneurial skills across multiple sectors and inspiring women of colour to succeed in business and professional life.

Jonathan Ebbs, Service Development Specialist at Business & IP Centre Manchester said, “The evening was full of powerful, inspiring stories including lots of shared tips and anecdotes from the audience. It was one of the buzziest events Business & IP Centre Manchester has seen, with lots of laughter but also a real passion and desire to help each other to succeed”.

Precious panel

For more information about PRECIOUS and to see upcoming events, visit their website. You can discover everything Business & IP Centre Manchester has to offer here.

19 July 2019

How the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas can help your start-up

Add comment

Business & IP Centre workshop partner, Neil Lewis, explores how the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas give start-ups the stamina and vision to succeed.

The Breakthrough Canvas v3.0 A4

Question: What’s the secret to building a successful start-up?

Answer: A powerful sense of purpose that provides the ability and stamina to keep going through both the good times and the tough times whilst always providing an attractive draw to supporters, resources and potential customers.

Hence, you’d expect a start-up business model to prioritise ‘purpose’ in the earliest stage of planning, but this key feature is lacking in the standard business model canvas.

The original Business Model Canvas remains rooted in a logical left-brained deductive process that fails to build unique and exciting business models. Nor does it capture the purpose, the energy or the passion of the founders that stand behind their start-ups.

That is why we completely rebuilt the canvas as the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas and place ‘purpose’ as the heart of this new innovative model.

The Breakthrough Canvas 3-0

Why does Purpose matter?

Two key reasons: Vision and stamina

Firstly, as a start-up or scale-up you are making promises about what you *will* deliver and what you *can* deliver in the future. You need a variety of people; customers, partners, investors, supporters… to come alongside you and ‘buy into’ your vision.

Even if you already have a functioning product, your supporters still have to ‘buy your future vision. And to be convincing, you have to show why your team is built for this future solution, why it is in your DNA, why it is your purpose.

Secondly, by creating your start-up or scale-up out of your sense of purpose, you are telling your supporters that you have the stamina to follow through — that you are determined to make it work and that you have the energy and passion to overcome the barriers and challenges that we all know you will face.

And this outward expression of your inner drive that so effectively engages with start-up and scale-up supporters, does not come from better business model engineering but by discovering your purpose and passion and learning to express that purpose with greater clarity and increased impact.

As the original business model canvas fails to capture this raw emotional connection, we lose sight of a crucial part of what makes your business attractive, what makes it unique and why it should be supported and championed.

You might say the purpose of The Breakthrough Canvas is to ensure your startup or scaleup remains ‘unique’!

“There are already lots of copycat businesses out there — so be different, be unique, be you and be uncopiable, unmatchable!”

And, because The Breakthrough Canvas is emotionally powerful for your team, they too will also have a powerful motive to take action and to inspire others to become supporters — customers, team members, investors and so on and so forth.

Pivot in — not Pivot out!

Pivot

How the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas can help you and your team will depend on the questions you are asking and the challenges that you face.

However, a typical conundrum that start-ups face is whether to pivot or not. In this example, The Breakthrough Canvas has helped entrepreneurs switch from ‘pivoting out’ to ‘pivoting in’. For instance, a media team found that their sector — gig reviews and student media — was awash with people willing to write for free.

Their question began as — “how do we change our business to find a sustainable economic model? Do we switch to writing generic marketing copy or website blogs because they pay more money?”

Following a session using The Breakthrough Business Model Canvas and refocusing on what this team really loved to do, we discovered a new business model — working alongside the student media editorial teams at their high-pressure publication dates to provide last minute reviews, editorials and editing.

This switch of focus happened when we changed the question from ‘who will pay us for our words’ to ‘what are we exceptionally good at (because it’s our purpose — our ‘why’) and who works in that space that we can add value to’.

By asking the ‘purpose’ question first and following through with questions about customer needs and motivations, this start-up pivoted inwards and deeper, rather than pivoting outwards and into the headwinds of a lot of competition where they would have been ‘good’ but not standout exceptional.

What next?

Manchester bl 2

There are regular workshops at the Business & IP Centre London on The Breakthrough Business Model Canvas which can help you uncover your purpose and super-charge your start-up’s growth, visit our Events and Workshops page to find out when the next one is. Alternatively, you can search online for a coach who can take you through the canvas to help you uncover deeper and more powerful answers.

Neil Lewis, founder of Media Modo

Neil delivers coaching, tools and workshops to help you discover your start-up purpose, gain lift-off and magnify growth. He is a regular workshop leader at the Business & IP Centres in London and Manchester.

08 July 2019

Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre launches in Glasgow

Add comment

April saw the launch of Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre outside of England, in partnership with Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and Santander. Business & IP Centre Glasgow take us behind the scenes of the launch event…

18942404
Dr John Scally, CEO National Library of Scotland & National Librarian, Dr Bridget McConnell, CEO Glasgow Life and Roly Keating, Chief Exec British Library

The run up to the launch was not without its challenges! Co-ordinating the diaries of the heads of service from Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and the British Library was no easy feat  - so we were delighted to welcome Dr Bridget McConnell (CEO Glasgow Life), Dr John Scally (CEO National Library of Scotland and National Librarian) and Roly Keating (CEO British Library) to the Mitchell Library on Friday 26 April 2019, fittingly on the same day as World IP Day, to sign the collaboration agreement to officially launch Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre in Glasgow.

Glasgow’s Centre offers local businesses and entrepreneurs access to intellectual property and business information, workshops, one-to-one advice sessions and inspiring events. Our latest evaluation showed we helped to create over 340 new businesses in the last three years with our Business @ The Mitchell service and during our pilot Business & IP Centre phase.[1]. Business & IP Centre Glasgow is delivered in partnership with the National Library of Scotland. A strategic partnership which effectively benefits Glasgow’s business community through enhanced access to business resources available from The Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland’s Kelvin Hall campus. Under the Business & IP Centre brand we have been successful in attracting additional delivery partners including our first Entrepreneur in Residence, Rachel Jones (CEO of Snapdragon IP, Director of Totseat). We are also proud to be accessible and welcoming, which has encouraged a variety of users, including 68% women and 45% under 35s, with 46% of entrepreneurs describing themselves as having a social and environmental aim[2].

At the launch event, our partners and local entrepreneurs heard from our panel of speakers Dr Bridget McConnell (CEO Glasgow Life), Dr John Scally (CEO National Library of Scotland and National Librarian), Roly Keating (CEO British Library), Sue Douthwaite (MD Santander Business) and local entrepreneur Kevin Cowan (x10 Solutions), who outlined his experience of using the business information resources and services at The Mitchell to grow his business.

Annie
Annie Campbell, founder of Campbell Medical Illustrations

Another entrepreneur who has benefitted from the Centre is Annie Campbell, founder of Campbell Medical Illustrations, which was established in May 2018. After attending the introductory workshop on how to research her market and intellectual property, she had the reassurance to take her business forward, “The tools and free resources available at the Business & IP Centre Glasgow are second to none and the staff are great. I have a new sense of confidence and motivation.

To celebrate World Intellectual Property Day we finished the launch event with an IP workshop delivered by Business & IP Centre Glasgow’s business information librarian, Tony Lyon.

Everyone at Business & IP Centre Glasgow had a fantastic time at the launch. It was great to experience the genuine enthusiasm and support for the Centre from our partners, entrepreneurs and business support organisations. Joining the network has been a positive move for us and we are looking forward to our journey as part of the Business & IP Centre National Network family as it continues to grow. It’s great to see nationally, across all Business & IP Centres that an additional 7,843 jobs have been created from the 12,288 businesses who have started up with Business & IP Centres[3].

Find out more about the services on offer click here, or follow Business & IP Centre Glasgow on Twitter.

Ruth Hunter, Partnership and Outreach Manager, Mitchell Library

[1] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

[2] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

[3] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

07 July 2019

A week in the life of…Emma Richards, Business Outreach Manager at the IPO

Add comment

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is a government department responsible for granting Intellectual Property rights including Trade Marks, Registered Designs and Patents.

Emma has worked for the IPO for 20 years after studying Business and Marketing in the University of Wales in Cardiff. She is experienced in delivering and advising on all aspects of Intellectual Property. She has worked in the Business Outreach Team for the past 12 years and travels the UK giving advice to SME’s and individuals who want help with their IP strategy.

Sunday Instead of packing the school bags ready for the madness of the school run, I’m packing my case and loading up the car to prepare for a busy week ahead. Leaving my husband with a long list of things to do, I give the kids a big cwtch and head to the other side of Newport to collect my colleague, Nick. We are heading off to Shrewsbury this evening and after a long car journey we finally arrive at the hotel at 20.30. After a quick bite to eat we retire to our rooms for an early night.

Monday I know the idea of having a hotel breakfast appeals to many people but the novelty soon wears off and the waist line tends to suffer! Nick has the right idea, he’s already been to the gym by the time we meet at 8.00 (I prefer the extra sleep myself). We’re fuelled up and ready to head over to the Shrewsbury Growth Hub. Today we are delivering an intellectual property workshop to a group of new businesses who are keen to learn the value. New to IP? Watch our short video below:

As many presenters will know, the curse of the Powerpoint is always ready to rear its head and it’s in full force this morning. With time ticking on we decide to continue minus the slides in true experienced improvisation mode.

Despite the problems with the IT, we delivered a successful workshop and after lunch I got ready for some one-to-one sessions and Nick headed off to the train station, no rest for the wicked as he was heading off to London.

After the last one-to-one session, I went back to the hotel and headed off for a run. Running in a strange location is always a bit risky, especially in the rural areas of the Shropshire countryside. After a few dices with death, I decided the safest place for me is in the swimming pool! Trying to time calling home is tricky with three young children and a husband at the end of his tether, but thanks to the wonders of the 21st century I am able to Facetime and admire the carnage! Then it’s a quick bite to eat and off to bed. Rock and roll!

Shrewsbury

Tuesday I head off to the Growth Hub again this morning to meet with another colleague. Today’s session is slightly different as the audience is now made up of business advisors. Whether a business is just starting out or already trading, IP should always be considered as part of their business plan. Our short video helps explain this in more detail:

Thankfully the IT is playing ball today and after lunch we get ready to meet local businesses. We invite two local businesses to explain their business to the advisors and during an interactive session they discuss the potential IP problems and opportunities and offer suggestions. It was a great afternoon, bringing together the role of the advisor and business and where IP fits into business planning.

I gather all my things and head off to my next location, Birmingham. Following another swim and challenging Facetime session with the kids I fall in to bed ready for the day ahead.

Wednesday This morning I am heading off to Aston Villa FC for the Midlands Expo.  I meet my colleague there who is based in the region and hoping to make contacts for further business support. The exhibition is targeted at SMEs in the area, so I am hoping to give lots of valuable IP advice today.

I start the day off with an IP talk to delegates, giving them an overview of IP and why it is important for them to consider. During the course of the day I speak to a variety of customers with many trade mark, copyright and designs queries. At 15.00 I am ready to head home and press my favourite button on the sat nav. I finally arrive home at around 18.00, but the fun doesn’t stop there! I’m faced with three excited children wanting to fill me in on the last three days in ten minutes and an exhausted husband who has clearly lost the will to live. I run the bath, start the conveyor belt of shampoo and pyjamas and get them off to bed feeling the happiness of this crazy normality.

After the craziness has calmed down my husband and I do the abridged version of the last few days and I am happy to head off to my own bed.

Thursday Today I’m heading in to the office, so after the madness of the school run I join the traffic. Being in a job that takes me out of the office most of the time, means I am in demand when I’m here. I find my day busy with meetings and planning and before I know it, it’s home time. The usual tea time/ bath time ensues and then I head off to meet my brother for some food and a theatre show.

Kids

Friday It’s my non-working day so I enjoy a nice long run, followed by a nail appointment. Having a non-working day is really important to me as it allows me to catch up on everything I’ve missed out on during the week while I’ve been away. I always make sure that we eat as a family on a Friday evening and we chat about the week we’ve had. After our meal we kick back and watch a film together before the chaos of bath time. With the kids safely in bed and allocated babysitter in place my husband and I head off to our local for the pub quiz and a bit of well-earned quality time together.

A week in my life is hectic, to say the least but a weekend with the kids…well that’s another story entirely! I end the week feeling I have made a difference and look forward to my next business event on the calendar.