Few business nurseries focus on learning; but some do

Aside

WORKING IN STARTUPS Founding a business attracts a lot of young people who have little or no business experience; but only a few business development programmes put much emphasis on learning – Village Capital, EntrepreneurFirst and the Clore Foundation among them.

 Becoming a company founder, some suggest, is to-day a more popular career than any other, but it is fraught with failure. Brent Hoberman has depicted it as like throwing yourself off a cliff and learning to build an aeroplane on the way down. While some succeed (YCombinator seems to attract heavy-weight innovators), many fail; (in the UK just under half new businesses apparently fail within three years), and many of those who start businesses simply become self-employed (or are out of work.) We desperately need to identify, select and train – for the various skills that are needed.

In 2016, Village Capital in New York launched a development programme for young people aimed at filling the gap between their education and the need for them to become employable in today’s venture-oriented world. It involved companies that would receive ‘training on business model development, customer hypothesis testing, financial modelling, partnership and customer development, and investor engagement. Entrepreneurs also have one-on-one time with mentors, industry experts, investors, top business leaders and potential customers’.

EntrepreneurFirst, an Accelerator for graduates to found new businesses, has become expert in putting people together who form effective teams, as has Village Capital in New York. EntrepreneurFirst achieves this by forcing its recruits to examine compatability in relation to purpose, in the very early stages of a startup.

The Clore Foundation, originally about leadership in the arts, runs a variety of leadership development programmes – for people in social enterprise. They are all part time; in groups; online as well as residential; a mixture of reflection – with coaching, and instruction; and all of them about working together to tackle their various current leadership challenges.

John Whatmore, June 2018

 

 

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A support programme for hi-growth young ventures

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A Growth Builder programme for hi-growth ventures

At last programmes are being initiated, based on the elements of the Accelerator but provided on a periodic basis, that fill a gap in aiming to help hi-growth businesses to grow faster. Every incubator should follow suit.

Sherry Coutu CBE, serial entrepreneur and investor, identified in her report of 2014 a need to support rapidly expanding ‘scale-up’ companies to create a significant proportion of the UK’s economic growth; RBS analysis suggested an additional 238,000 jobs and £38 billion additional turnover is possible if the ‘scale up gap’ is reversed; and the 2016 Barclays Report puts its finger on specific needs concerning management and finance.

The Growth Builder programme is one of several recent responses to her call for Government, entrepreneurs, educators, investors and large corporates to work together to support these businesses, and it has been built specifically to help established British businesses that want to take on the next stage of growth.

The first cohort consists of businesses from a range of sectors, carefully picked based on existing proven successes and their potential for further growth – by a panel of esteemed industry experts. The 48 businesses will enjoy access to Government, university innovation, corporate expertise, investors and successful entrepreneurs, including programme ambassadors like Brent Hoberman (lastminute.com, made.com, Founders Forum and Founders Factory), Sherry Coutu CBE (Founders4Schools), Sarah Wood (Unruly) and Ed Wray (Betfair), among others.

The programme which has been designed by UCL, Natwest, UKTI, BT, PIE Mapping, Fast Growth Forum, the UK Business Angels Association and Loughborough University, consists of 12 monthly meetings, starting with a day focused on getting to know one another and formal assessment of where each business is and where it hopes to go, based on the Business Model Canvas. The second meeting – a half-day meeting, will see the participants working in small groups, based on such things as size, sector, technology etc; at which the members of each group will present their progress together with their problems, to which group members will contribute their thoughts, their own experience and their ideas. Some mentoring is provided by ‘growth tutors’. Future meetings are expected to alternate between these two models – the provision of input and small group working. Meetings rotate around the premises of the various contributors.

This format brings together the best of a number of existing programmes, all of them evidently highly valued, and adds the intimate involvement of a wide variety of different contributors – provided pro bono. Every incubator can put together a programme with this objective (and every Science Park, Innovation Centre and Tech Hub too.)

John Whatmore, June 2016