Even the London Start-up scene slows down in August ( especially when it coincides with Olympics). Meet-ups grind to halt, new product launches get put back until September and quiet new businesses start to panic about whether anyone will ever buy from them again. So I thought I would list 25 cool things (Money, Interns, Space, Programmes) available for start-ups in London this summer. Do check them out below:
Cool Accelerators (7)
I love them (perhaps a little too much) but I sincerely believe that they are the best way of enabling innovative and potentially scalable early stage business to generate early market validation and potentially investment. Of course you could follow the lead of London Start-ups Role Point and Pop -set and get yourself on one of the USA version listed here but if you stay in London then these are the ones I would check-out:
There are also accelerators that are focus exclusively on a sector like the recently launch Med Tech Accelerator Health Box or Telefonica’s Mobile focused Wayra. We encourage and help start-ups to apply. If you are not sure which one is right for you then get in contact.
Finally, although technically not an accelerator, the Start-Up Leadership programme (presently open for applications) is (by using the collective wisdom peer-to-peer mentoring sessions) a fantastic new way of helping new entrepreneurs succeed.
Cool Space (8)
My favourites are as follows:
In fact the coolest (or at least most attractive space for a start-ups to reside in in London is RCA’s Incubator space in Battersea. Only one problem you have to be a graduate of the RCA to get in.
Summer Internships. (3)
There are some fantastic offers of internships presently available. For students I would look at Red Orchre’s offer to spend thirteen weeks learning about green energy in Seville, one of the world’s outstanding centres of green development.
Alternatively you may want to check out the new partnership between CE members Enternships and the British Computer Society. Lot’s off lots of well-paid internship opportunities at http://www.enternships.com/bcs
Finally for SME’s in London looking for a fully paid intern this summer then there are still a few places left on http://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/support/internship-progamme
Cool ways to raise money. (7)
There is nothing cool about raising finance for a new business. Unlike the Millwall Football Chant no one may like you but you do care. That was before the emergence of crowdfunding. The first and best investment crowdfunding platform for start-ups is Crowdcube. Riding high after raising 600K seed funding for Escape the City, the co-founders Luke and Darren are keen to get more businesses to register there “investment ready “ businesses on the site in time for big promotional push in the Autumn.
Not to get left out in the cool stakes, is East London Small Business Centre, who with the Arts Council, have recently launched a new loan of up to £25k for creative businesses. East London Small Business Centre is still one of the few places left in London that offers free professional business advice and training to start-ups and with its new loans and new programmes continues to go from strength to strength.
But since the most popular enquiry to Capital Enterprise is still a request for info on where they can find free money ( closely followed by a business mentor and a pop-up shop) then I thought I would end the blog on some amazing competitions you can enter over the summer.
Capital Enterprise has won a bid from the Greater London Authority (GLA) to work on a project called ‘LIVE’ (London Innovation Voucher Exchange) to provide scalable and growing enterprises in London with vouchers, worth between £5-10K, to use on purchasing Research and Development support services ( such as Rapid Prototyping, User Experience Design, Beta testing, and Innovation Coaching) from London’s leading universities and specialist innovation experts. The LIVE project is part-financed by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund. As LIVE project manager, you will ensure the successful delivery of LIVE’s outputs as agreed with the GLA. You will report back on the progress of the project to the Project Steering Board ( members include UCL, Technology Strategy Board, NESTA, British Computer Society) and the GLA EPMU team. Your main day-to-day responsibility will be to coordinate LIVE activities across Capital Enterprise’s network. You will be responsible for all communications with the businesses the project supports, gathering information on their progress and the reporting of feedback to the CEO of Capital Enterprise.
Capital Enterprise was formed in 1993 as the membership body for deliverers of enterprise support services in London. Its mission is to facilitate and support entrepreneurship in London via its 50+ (current) member organisations and through the development of new and innovative pan-London programmes. Our members provide support services to both pre-start and trading entrepreneurs and small business in all 33 London Boroughs and include universities, incubators, enterprise agencies, business libraries and specialist support providers.
We are seeking someone who will have
The post is on a fixed term contract until 31st March 2014.
Salary for this role is £33,646.50 p.a. (plus travel card)
Where specific UK qualifications are required we will take into account overseas equivalents.
A job description can be accessed at the bottom of this page.
To apply for the vacancy please click on the ‘Application form’ link below complete and return back to Carly Lloyd: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please contact Carly Lloyd on 020 7679 4598
The closing date for applications is 15th August 2012
Capital Enterprise member, the University of East London is also recruiting for a project manager for an ERDF funded enterprise programme called “Make It Global”. The closing date is the 12th August and details can be found at http://jobs.uel.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=071S2012
INVITATION TO SUBMIT TENDER
Capital Enterprise is pleased to invite your company/organisation to quote to deliver Eight “Lean Start-up business bootcamp and a minimum of 6 follow up peer-to-peer mentor sessions for entrepreneurs seeking to:
A: Start an ambitious growth orientated business.
B: Learn about the latest Lean start-up/ customer development principles ( As developed by Steve Blank and Eric Reis) .
C: Develop and test a business model- using the Business Model Canvas.
D: Use Open Innovation principles to leverage the insights of peers and fellow businesses to overcome innovation challenges.
The Bootcamps are to take place between July 30th 2012 and March 31st 2013.
Any income generated through ticket sales will be directly paid ( minus fee handling costs) to the organisation chosen to deliver the programme.
Capital Enterprise total budget for delivering this programme ( including marketing, materials, room hire and refreshments) is between £20,000-£25000.
Your quote should be completed in accordance with the instructions provided and returned to Carly Lloyd (email@example.com) to arrive no later than 12:00 on July 24th 2012. Any quote received after this deadline will be rejected as non-compliant. If there are additional attachments for answers to the questions below, please specify the name of the attachment(s) in your response.
Any queries that arise as you are preparing your quotation should be sent to John Spindler, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0207 679 4598.
CapitalEnterpriseis not bound to accept the lowest or any quote submitted as a result of this invitation. CapitalEnterprisealso reserves the right to accept all or any part of an offer and, if necessary, to establish trading arrangements with more than one supplier
Applicants will be notified of the award decision as soon as is reasonably practicable.
The ‘Business Bootcamp’ project is an initiative by Capital Enterprise and the Open Innovation Interreg 4 ERDF programme, to provide intensive business training programmes delivered through a flexible framework by Partner Organizations. The uniqueness of the Bootcamp model is that it provides a tailor-made, sector specific and value-added approach to delivering workshops.
CapitalEnterpriseis looking for an organisation that would like to become a ‘Business Bootcamp’ Partner. The Partner will be responsible for providing a “lean start-up” program while adhering to the Bootcamp framework.
The Partner will be responsible for designing and delivery of this program, including, but not limited, to the following responsibilities:
The IP for the programs resides with Business Bootcamp and partners can utilise the programs within the geographical boundaries. The IP will be lost if the partner does not provide repeat programs
Applications to become a partner are welcome and will be chosen based on the following criteria:
Providing all criteria are met, priority will be given to Capital Enterprise members, however all applicants must:
IF YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO BE A ‘BUSINESS BOOTCAMP’ PARTNER AND IS INTERESTED IN SUBMITTING A TENDER, WE WOULD REQUIRE YOU TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS IN THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS.
Knowledge/ Experience of “Lean Start-up” principles and tools/ techniques
What experience do you have of delivering similar content to ambitiosw early stage entrepreneurs?
What is your previous experience in dealing with clients in this sector?
What are the specific issues and challenges will your bootcamp address?
Please provide the programme budget in Excel. The budget should be based on your estimate of the costs of running the programme in each of the following categories.
WHAT DO WE NEED
You need to provide answers to the following: pre-programme, financial, programme details, post programme. We are not insisting on any particular format but we expect approximately 2-3 A4 pages the budget. The deadline is 12:00 on 24th July 2012.
Lord Young - 10 Downing street Enterprise Supremo- has published a report Making Business Your Business that sets out the coalitions government thinking, policies and flagship programmes to encourage and enable entrepreneurship in the 21st Century UK.
Capital Enterprise gets a mention (which is more than nice) but it does not mean that we agree with everything laid out in the report but this is really beside the point. The report is really a challenge to the UK enterprise support providers to adapt to the new realities as seen by this government. Not only in this times of austerity little or no government funding for enterprise support but there is also a need to adapt to the new economic drivers that means that this government ( amongst may others) no longer think the old ways of supporting entrepreneurs are appropriate.
At the up-coming Capital Enterprise AGM on the 20th June we will debate the report’s implications and looking to the future examine how best we can:
A: Make virtual light touch enterprise advice and support work for the client and agency.
B: Build an enterprise support service built on volunteers.
C: Incubate and accelerate potential high growth entrepreneurs.
D: Offer alternatives to bank finance and embrace the growing crowdfunding/ peer-to-peer lending alternatives.
The Lord Young report points out that more people are starting a business or more accurately going self-employed than ever before. It has never been easier to start a business and yet our economy is not growing and new small business survival rates are falling and those who survive are less likely to go on to employ people.
The challenges facing enterprise support providers are big and require new approaches. Can we adapt is our big challenge.
I have not blogged for a while. I have been very busy but that’s no excuse. So I slight change of tack. From now on I am going to just to jot down things of interest that I have picked up on my travels in the past 7 days that I thought might be of interest. Well here goes:
1- I am more and more convinced that the traditional way we support people to start a business (especially if it is the 5% of entrepreneurs who want to do something big) is not going to work. The process of validating a would-be entrepreneurs idea, helping them develop a business plan and then helping them raise money and get customers fails, because although it might have worth as a process of business education, it has no predicative value. We as advisers cannot know whether a business can work prior to their actual engagement with the market. A business plan is a useless tool not believed by investors, bankers or any other key stakeholder. We like everyone else end up judging the credibility of people behind the business rather than the business, backing the jockey and not the horse. We need another approach.
2- The doll house fallacy is the belief that a new or small business is just a miniature version of an established or big business. But it is not true, just as a child is not a miniature adult; they do not think the same, act the same or need the same type of support or nurture. So we need to have a different tool kit and different measurements of success if we are going to help support and nurture early stage ambitious business. Things like cashflow forecasts, marketing strategies and defined job roles can wait until they become appropriate and in its place comes an offer of a “sandbox” where people can learn to design and build a product/service that customers might want and develop a business model that they can execute. What’s in this “sandbox”, who will be invited to play and who will pay for it has yet to be determined. I have some ideas that I hope to have an opportunity to try out soon but in the meantime I am keen to hear yours.
3- I am more and more struck by how different an ambitious early stage business is from traditional new business that, as advisors, we mainly encounter. In the case of the standard “Skillspreneur” we support (whether they be a management consultant, graphic designer or hairdresser) we know that they are selling a “twist” on a standard offer to a set of customers that they believe will buy their service rather than a market rival. We may want to assess their “unfair advantages” (the credibility of their CV, portfolio and strength of their contacts) to see if there business idea can succeed (and if we are organisations such as the Princes Trust we might try to use our contacts and resources to help those without many “unfair Advantages” to compete) but in the main we know what the criteria of success is: Customers, Profit and Cash. In ambitious early stage businesses getting the first paying customer is not as important as finding a business model that is relatively predictable, repeatable and scalable. I found myself saying to a client this week that the £20,000 she had made by selling to existing contacts was less important, interesting, praise worthy than the £600 she had made selling to strangers through a virtual platform. We both found it odd that this was true but of course one is repeatable and perhaps scalable, the other is not.
4- We launched the new Lean-start-up bootcamp called www.be.foundercentric.com this Saturday. We had 26 very bright entrepreneurs learning the basic tools and lexicon of the lean-start-up approach. From now on every 2nd Monday they are due to meet at Google Campus to receive mentor support from both Rob and Sal and their course peers. The next programme is on the 16th June so do check it out, and at the end of the month we will be taking a version of the programme to 3 outer London Enterprise Agencies- Brent, Enfield and Wandsworth. I learned yet again to appreciate the knowledge and experience of Rob and Sal. I also leaned that we better create a dictionary of lean-start-up terms before we go to the suburbs. I also had the insight that if tech start-ups often fake it (use non-scalable activities such as events to acquire their first users and customers that in turn through these users word of mouth recommendations help the product go viral) then can we not apply the same reasoning to certain existing businesses. These trading businesss have acquired a customer base using non-scalable activities, so with an adaption of their business model could they not also use these customers to make their product/service go viral. I wish to explore business model innovation for established small businesses further. Interested?
5- Finally some recommendations:
• Check out Sal Virani’s blog - there is gold there
• Check out Rob Fitzpatrick’s bootstrap challenge- Will he or won’t he make it?
• Check out Eze Vidra’s blog on Robert Cialdini, author of the “Psychology of Influence”- More gold.
• Check out Popset- I gave a small grant to Jan Sendarek, the founder, 18 month’s ago and at least 3 pivots later, a stay at Y-Combinator – he now has a business going viral. What did I say about jockeys and not horses? I am such a hypocrite
• Check out Giftcannon- The brilliance of reciprocity will make Jordan a lot of money. Well I am an avid fan.
• Check out London Co-Founders Club meet-up on the 18th June- We are the not so generous sponsors.
• Check out the “From Idea to Investment” workshop at Google Campus on the 26th June. In the past 4 months we have helped to fast-tracked 8 past attendees to seed investment and helped 4 to be successfully accepted on to Wayra.
I was at two events last week that got me thinking that we need to radically think again about what we do in London.
On Tuesday the 12th March I was in Liverpool for the Global Entrepreneur Congress where an audience of 3000+ entrepreneurs heard what for me were 2 important facts:
1. That the Northwest Region of England (home to both poster boys of 1980’s deprivation Liverpool and Manchester) now has significant lower unemployment (9.3%) than London (10.2%). The fact that London is now the region with the fastest growing level of unemployment should shame us all.
2. The respected Kauffman institute repeated the research findings that almost all the new jobs created in the USA are created by companies that are less than 5 years old. This amazing fact accounts for the fact that partly through a bi-partizan effort to support entrepreneurs by all USA Federal, State and City governments the USA is now creating jobs at a rate of almost 3 million per year. More and better entrepreneur is what this fantastic presentation points out is a necessary if USA and by direct implication London, is going to create jobs.
Therefore, I was interested to hear what all the 4 major candidates for the Mayor of London had to say on the subject of job creation and entrepreneurship at the Mayoral debate organised by the London Business Board last Thursday evening. The news I am saddened to say was extremely disappointing. Not a single candidate had anything to say about tackling London’s growing unemployment. Not a single candidate said anything practical about how to enable and increase entrepreneurialism in London. Instead we were treated to the usual banter about who could best manage the TFL infrastructure, who best could control the unions, who best could ensure the police do their job of policing the streets and who can best promote London to oversee businesses.
In left me thinking, in a room of 200 so called representatives of London’s business community, if I was the only person in London that thought none of the candidates cared or had a clue on how to tackle London’s economic crisis. The questions I want answers to from the candidates for Mayor of London are:
▪ Do you care about employment in London- if so what are you going to do about it?
▪ Do you know that businesses less than 5 years old create all the net new jobs and if you do what are you promising to do to make London an entrepreneurial city?
▪ Are you ashamed that you have an agency called London Partners whose job is to attract foreign firms to set up and create jobs in London but nothing (no agency, no funding, no direct support) to encourage and enable Londoners to become entrepreneurs? Based on empirical evidence if you cared about job creation where should you put your investment? You guessed it in supporting London’s entrepreneurs, in helping them not overseas firms to de-risk their investments in this city.
▪ Are you aware that City leaders from across the world are passing laws to make it easier to start and scale a business, providing tax breaks to encourage investment, releasing unused public buildings and land and providing grants to set-up incubators for the next generation of entrepreneurs and using tax revenues to fund education and training programmes to encourage and support both young and old to give it a go and become an entrepreneur? I suspect not so if they were interested I recommend they look at the 50+ initiatives that Mayor Bloomberg of New York is pursuing in a co-ordinated programme to make New York’s economy more than Wall Street or better still look at why a country like Israel (with a population a little less than London’s) is a world leader in creating the next generation of entrepreneurs and jobs.
Today we have the release of the Experian/ BBC Local Growth report that finds London is the number 1 region for having employers in sectors (primarily business services) that have the best growth potential but is the worst performing region in England for the % of firm that could potentially export or potentially grow.
The Experian/ BBC report concludes that simply targeting sectors identified as having high growth potential, will not create the level of growth the economy needs. There are champions in every sector and the level of job creation varies in each and it is these “business Champions” that will create the vast majority of new jobs in the economy in future years.
There are several characteristics, which business champions have in common:
All in all these reports and findings demonstrate that it is not surprising that London is failing to create sufficient jobs for its ever growing, predominately young population. The recent Office for National Statistics report showed that between 2002-2010 we have has a 25% increase in the number of firms in London that employ no one other than the founding directors and that this non-growth, non-employing businesses now make up 78% of all firms operating in the Capital.
So no more complacency- what we need is a Manifesto that will make London yet again the Entrepreneur dynamo for the county.
Capital Enterprise has been offered 3 pop-up units in an exceptional location for 11 months beginning immediately.
You have to be a Capital Enterprise member to be eligible, so if you are an individual you may wish to contact one of our members and discuss collaboration.
We are looking for bold, edgy and innovative ideas in enterprise support. Do you want to showcase your clients’ / students’ products, prototypes or services? Are you thinking of doing market testing with the members of the public? Whatever it may be, this is an incredible opportunity to make it happen!
Please click here for further details
Two years in and apparently now is the time that the government, specifically the Department of BIS, decides its all about implementation and not policy change. As the dust settles we can now see that the hard cash that the governments is prepared to spend to support entrepreneurship and small business growth boils down to one strategy and four broad programmes.
They are all linked to a determination to focus what are extremely limited resources on supporting a relatively small group of SME’s to grow. As NESTA reported last year, about 6% of all small businesses account for over 50% of the job growth in the UK. These growth businesses, the so called gazelles, are predominately established businesses, with an experienced management team, respected brands within their sector and sufficient internal cash to fund growth.
The government’s view is that is a relatively low risk strategy to focus on helping those already growing rapidly to grow a little more, and a little faster.
So the Department of BIS strategy is to fund programmes that can help these high growth businesses ( under 5000 in London) to grow. The 4 arms to this strategy are:
The government’s flag ship programme to support High Growth businesses is of course Coaching for Growth, whose website went live last week. Delivered by Grant Thornton, PERA, Winning Pitch and Oxford Innovations I hope to reveal more how it will be delivered in London in the next few weeks. But essentially it about providing tailored high quality expertise that can open up new opportunities and overcome barriers to growth for a relatively small number of businesses.
If only we could get more firms to export – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/9090333/Helping-Britains-smaller-companies-to-go-global.html is the present governments thinking. So it has doubled the number of SME’s the UKTI needs to see and support. The programme to be delivered in London by Capital Enterprise member GLE is not to be confused with the UKTI Tech City initiative which is unique to London and is presently focusing using the Olympics as a catalyst to create more inward investment from international tech companies.
The government is using a combination of tax breaks ( R&D tax credits), the competitions and awards offered by the Technology Strategy Board and changes to the way research councils fund universities to encourage businesses to invest in R&D and universities and others to support innovation. London is well placed to take the lead in this area with its universities and knowledge based business clusters and new initiatives funded by both the government ( such as Innovation catapults) and the EU will be announced soon.
The government has focused most of its efforts to date on getting the banks to lend ( by underwriting or providing them with cheaper credit). The Chancellor is likely to announce more news on this front in the budget along with confirmation of the SEIS tax breaks for investors. Coaching for Growth will also be supporting the top 6% to prepare business plans, write investment proposals and raise growth finance.
Other initiatives, previously funded by successive governments, will from now on be either outsourced to LEPS to fund ( no joy there for London) or be assigned as Big Society Initiatives that are either to be self-funded (Start-up Britain) or delivered by volunteers mentors or advisors(Mentors me).
So gone, for at least the next 3 years, is government cash to fund face-to-face advice for start-ups and the 94% of businesses not deemed to be high growth. Out is funding for training (again especially missed by start-ups) and direct support to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the disadvantaged) despite Dept of BIS own findings that face-to-face advice is vital in helping the unemployed and disadvantage setting up a business or going self-employed.
Just as importantly everything is having to be delivered with a lot less money.
Of course other government departments like Department of Work & Pensions have their initiatives to either support the long term unemployed to go self-employed or for SME’s to employ the young unemployed and Capital Enterprise members are playing a big role in their implementation.
The Mayor of London when re-elected may also decide to look again at how they can support SME’s to start, survive, grow and create jobs and wealth.
However, the time is coming when organisations in London that support entrepreneurship need to decide how they are best placed to help deliver the governments agenda. Alternatively if they are not geared up to deliver export, innovation or coaching for growth support will they be able to live without funding in order to deliver services to those SME’s and potential start-ups not presently favoured by this government.
These issues will be the theme for Capital Enterprise next member meet-up on the 23rd March 10-12 noon at the British Library.
In February, Capital Enterprise will be running or involved in a series of free events and special offers designed to inform entrepreneurs on the best and latest ways to finance a high growth business and subsequently provide those with the support and contacts to raise the money they need .
We have decided to theme the events and offers under the banner “Finance in Feb”. The full list is below:
1. Leading for Business Growth:
Do you have a business model and management team that can achieve the type and amount of finance to fund high growth. Not sure then you should consider signing up to this workshop led by specialist from the world renown Warwick Business School http://capitalenterprise.org/event-details/?eid=123
2. Angel Fun:
@ The British Library Conference Centre
The British Business Angel Association in partnership with Capital Enterprise will be running through why now more than ever is a good time to look at Angel Finance to fund growth-http://www.bl.uk/bipc/workevents/angelfun.html
We will look at the how the Government’s new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) initiative will work in real life When launched in April this year SEIS will offer angel investors up to 50% tax breaks for a total of £100k invested in start-ups and each start-up that meets the criteria can receive up £150k equity investment under this scheme. There will be also an opportunity to question Angels on what they look for, how best to approach them and how they value an early stage business. On the latter point I do recommend you look at a recent blog by Seed Camp or the following slide-deck
3. Finance in February
Capital Enterprise will present its comprehensive guide to financing an entrepreneurial venture. The guide will be made available on the day and will run through:
A: Grants – They exist but only for the “chosen few” – are you one of them?
B: Tax breaks – What are they and why are they useful?
C: Borrowing – If not the banks, then where? If the banks, then how?
D: Angel and VC funding – Who invested in whom in 2011 – A look at 464 UK high growth SME’s who secured investment in 2011 and what it says to those seeking funding today.
E: What’s new? – A look at the new online resources of funding, crowd funding and upcoming government incentives and sources of help.
Joining Capital Enterprises to answer your questions will be a panel of experts and entrepreneurs.
To book your place click here.
4. Business Bootcamp Lounge
@O2 Workshop Tottenham Court Road.
The next Business Bootcamp Alumni Lounge will feature short presentations and a Q&A sessions with a number of London entrepreneurs who have recently raised investment funding from Angels and VC’s. If you have not been before and enjoyed the drinks, nibbles and good company then please check up out here. http://www.meetup.com/BB-Lounge/events/49243982/
5. The Beginners guide to the “Lean Start-up”. (or How to bootstrap a high growth business).
@ O2 Workshop Tottenham Court Road
The Lean start-up method is now the preferred method used by Silicon Valley start-ups and high growth USA entrepreneurs. If you want to know what it is, why it could give you a way to reduce the risk and cost of starting an ambitious business and how you can use tools such as the Canvas Business Model to get going, then enrol now for this free introductory workshop.
6. Pitching for Management:
@ Nabarro’s Holborn WC1.
Capital Enterprise has joined forces with Angel News to co-sponsor a pitching for management event for those potential high growth companies that need to find the right management with the right customer contacts to enable them to scale their business. To find out more please check out http://pitchingformanagementlondon17-eorg.eventbrite.com.
7. Special Offer- Free 1-2-1 Business Planning support
Capital Enterprise has secured a deal with its member CEME, to provide registered businesses in London who are looking to raise money, with a business consultant in order to help them complete their financial forecasts and finesse their business plans and pitches. If you are interested then please e-mail email@example.com
This blog is written by John Spindler, the CEO of Capital Enterprise. John is a skilled regeneration and business development professional with experience from both the public and private sectors. He has successfully developed and initiated a large number of projects and has worked across all areas of enterprise support. John is the director of two other companies he has started and he has an MBA from Leeds University.
John welcomes comments via email.
The views in this blog are John Spindler's own and do not represent the directors or members of Capital Enterprise.