A Pathfinder’s pathway

A Pathfinder’s pathway Jack is a creater of Accelerators. With a seemingly endless appetite for more, how many can he handle? With about 130 new business support programmes started in the last three years, where do leaders like him come from?

His very first startup was a social enterprise selling slow cooked pork for a charity in Camden Market!

He was instrumental in founding Citrus Saturday with Tim Barnes, an experiential learning programme developed by UCL, aimed at teaching entrepreneurship and enterprise skills to young people around the world, now in use in 16 countries across Europe and Africa. Participants create a lemonade product, brand it and sell it to the public, then keep the profits from their work.

When he realised that some of the joiners to his current incubator had come from Accelerator Entrepreneur First, Jack experimented in 2017 with an 8-week Accelerator (called Bloom Accelerate) for 8 startups, whose focus was on finding customers. Based on 1-1s for 3-5 days a week, he describes it as ‘pragmatic’. And this has formed the basis of his incubator’s offering ever since.

At the same time, he ran a food business incubator in shared kitchens, which he describes as an almost impossible situation. Over 6 months it helped 4 food businesses (2 Street Food, 1 catering, 1 coffee shop offering) to get off the ground and test their ideas in a very low-risk setting. The catering for the Bloom Accelerate events (above) came from the catering company; the events were held in the coffee shop and the chefs from the street food stalls came to the workshops, and learned more about running their businesses.

Jack is now setting up another such incubator – in Malvern, where he has acquired a lease on a building which he is refurbishing at low cost – to house 6 businesses (12 people), with an eventual maximum of 20 businesses – enabling them to feed off one another, and opening them to local links as well as to London links. It will focus on Proof of Concept, and is for people with ERDF grants. And he has his eye on another site in Ledbury, and then yet another in Plymouth.

Jack has connections with some seven incubators in EU countries, which enable him to draw on their experience as well as offering to members of his own incubator the opportunity to spend time there free of charge.

He also works with a Japanese group which connects large industry sponsors and investors in Asia with startups. It has an annual prize called Tech Planter – for identifying engineering and tech issues and pre-seeding them in startups.

Who will join me in nominating Jack ‘Startup Supporter of the Year’?

John Whatmore, February, 2019

 

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