Month: October 2018

INSPIRE GROW CELEBRATE – York Business Week is BACK

York business week 2

York Business week 1

The York Business Week Team is bringing you a selection of carefully crafted events focused around four key themes. From showcasing ‘World Class York’ to helping you take the practical steps to start your business with a bang, we will help you take your business to the next level. As well as our own core events we have partnered with some of the city’s brightest businesses and support organisations to bring you a series of insightful and inspirational hosted events.

It’s set to be a fantastic week – Check out York Business Week for full information, but here are a few highlights!

CONFERENCE

On the 13th of November, there is a TOP CLASS business conference on the theme of ‘World Class York’. There is an excellent line-up of speakers in and the event will be hosted by Jon Hammond, former BBC journalist and Governor at York St John University our speakers will include:

William Derby, Chief Executive, York Racecourse , Richard Harpin, Founder and CEO, Homeserve, Noirin Carmody, Co-Founder and COO, Revolution Software, Tim Leigh, Marketing Director, Stage One, Andrew Swift, CEO FERA Science Ltd, Lee Statham, Global Innovation Lead Confectionary R&D, Nestle, Peter Cowling, Director Digital Creativity Labs, Isabel Jago, Product and Communications Lead, York Instruments, Mark Christie, CTO Piksel, and James Browne, Managing Director, Hiscox Direct UK.

You can find the full details here.

START UPS

For newer businesses, there is the Business Growth Showcase…from start up to scale up. Learn how to start, fund and scale your business! York Business Week have teamed up with Make It York, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce & AD:VENTURE to bring you an exciting showcase event focused on all you need to know to start up and grow your early stage business.

Taking place at the recently refurbished De Grey Rooms, the event will feature inspirational talks from founders and business leaders and a series of panel sessions designed to give you all the information and encouragement you need to go away and do it yourself.

Our speakers will include David Kerfoot, Chair of York, North Yorkshire & East Riding LEP who built up a hugely successful North Yorkshire business. He will share ‘Kerf’s Top Ten Tips’ illustrated by stories and mistakes he made but learnt from along the way. You will also hear from Dr John Park, a serial technology entrepreneur and award-winning academic who has successfully developed and launched products with some of the world’s biggest companies including Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.

Our panel sessions will provide you with a wealth of expertise, business advice, featuring a range of York based businesses alongside experts from Business Enterprise Fund and the AD:VENTURE Start-up programme, amongst others.

OPEN DAYS

Through the week, 10 companies have ‘open days’ to showcase their business and offer an insight to how they work : You can find more details here.

TEDX

There’s also a TedX event, two themed days (business growth and skills) and a whole range of other events to participate in. The full programme can be found here.

Yorkshire women encouraged to start businesses with free academy training programme

SME training

An academy designed to help women run businesses and build work-related bonds is inviting entrepreneurs and executives across the region to sign up for its programme.

The programme is free and runs for 10 weeks. Yorkshire-born Debbie Wosskow OBE and Anna Jones are leading the lineup of female leaders delivering the academy’s free online course content.

Debbie, who was born and grew up in Sheffield, set up her first company when she was 25 and in 2017 sold her company, Love Home Swap, for $53m.

Anna, who was born in Harrogate and grew up in rural Yorkshire, became the first female CEO at publisher Hearst UK in a century.

So far, over 3,000 women have signed up for the digital UK academy.

sme training

AllBright Academy partner, Harvey Nichols, will be providing the venue for Leeds meet-ups in its city centre store, as well as playing host to work sisterhood networking in its Manchester, Bristol, London and Edinburgh stores.

Deb Bee, group marketing and creative director of Harvey Nichols, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be working with The AllBright Academy to help women succeed in business and smash glass ceilings.

“The alignment between Harvey Nichols and AllBright could not be a better fit as both businesses are committed to celebrating and empowering women.

“The free Academy program is a fabulous idea and we’re excited to be hosting in our stores across the country.”

In a recent survey of UK women commissioned by AllBright, 13 per cent of those questioned in Yorkshire and the Humber area said they wanted to start their own business or be self-employed within a year.

A further 15 per cent were undecided about taking an entrepreneurial leap.

Debbie Wosskow OBE, AllBright’s co-founder, added: “We know that lack of confidence, especially in the 25-35 age group, is one of the reasons that women who want to start a business don’t.

“AllBright is on a mission to change this. The AllBright Academy will be a lifeline for many budding entrepreneurs and business women and in particular, the ‘Doing It For Yourself’ section is something that would have helped me enormously if it was available when I set up my first business.”

To register for the next Academy cohort (kicking off late November), please follow this link https://www.allbrightcollective.com/apply-academy/

BUSINESS IDEA TO BUBBLES AND BACK AGAIN!

Start-up advice

When Selby based work colleagues, Cassie Fennell and Wendy Langfield, went out for drinks with a friend one Friday night the last thing they expected was to wake up with a sore head and a business – but that’s exactly what happened.

As two trained accountants working for the same firm, which specialised in servicing larger organisations, the pair had become frustrated with the number of small businesses that were often turned away and left to look elsewhere for support. But, little did they know at the time that this would start a journey that would see them launch a company and never look back.

It was during this particular night out that Cassie and Wendy started to talk about their concerns and realised that they could pick up these start-ups and young businesses and provide them with a professional service that they could rely on.

Cassie comments: “We had no intention of talking about work, we were simply on a night out to have fun and to let our hair down. Yet, after a glass of fizz we started to discuss how frustrating it was to send people away to find help when we were perfectly capable of offering it ourselves!

“Our existing employer didn’t cater for smaller businesses or one-man bands so the more we thought about it, the more we realised we could manage these clients in our own time and earn some extra cash in the process. It made perfect sense and before we knew it, we had a business.”

Waking up the next day both ladies had time to consider the decision that they had made but were still adamant that this was the right thing to do. Taking the next step, they approached their boss and explained the situation. Rather than be annoyed or upset, he gave his support and that is when WJC Solutions went from being a plausible idea to an exciting reality.

It was while on holiday in Benidorm that Cassie met with a local friend who recommended networking and although she initially felt it wasn’t right for her she went along to a Selby Council networking event when she got home and found that it wasn’t half as bad as she had expected.

As well as the usual introductions, Cassie was introduced to Heidi Green, the Business Adviser from Selby District Council and Growth Manager for Leeds City Region LEP who put them in touch with AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme that offers practical and match-funded grant support to start-up and young businesses throughout the Leeds City Region.

As a result of that they had their first meeting with Lisa Whalley the regional adviser and then registered on to a selection of workshops that would give them the practical support and confidence that they felt they needed to start and run a business. They also accessed sessions that would teach them certain specialisms that they felt would be important including marketing.

Wendy comments: “What is great about the AD:VENTURE events and workshops is that you know everyone is in a very similar boat. It’s good to share experiences and to learn about the different skills you need, which you would otherwise not have come across.

“The programme is also supported by Selby District Council, so that gives you extra confidence that the events you are accessing are credible and delivered by professionals.

“As well as understanding more about how to market our business, we are also looking forward to accessing training about social media. In addition, we are working with an AD:VENTURE Business Advisor to look at possible ways in which we can access funds to support the design and development of our website. This will be a further big step in our journey.”

In just over a year WJC Solutions now has over 45 clients and although, like all businesses, it has come across a number of challenges, the founding Directors say that they would not change a thing. Their decision to start a business during a night out turned out to be less hangover and more happy ending.

For further details about the AD:VENTURE programme please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates including case studies of the businesses that have benefited from practical and match-funded grant support, please follow on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook 

AD:VENTURE supports 3 events to celebrate women in leadership

Business women mentoring

A series of free business events exploring the role of women in driving forward innovation and growth in business will be hosted by Leeds Beckett University across West Yorkshire as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The Women in Leadership events take place at Leeds Beckett’s University Business Centres in Halifax, Wakefield and Leeds on Monday 12 – Wednesday 14 November. For full details and to book a place at any session, please visit the women in leadership event calendar.

These business event supported by AD:VENTURE mark the closing of this year’s annual Innovation Network series, delivered in partnership between Leeds Beckett, the Yorkshire Post, Lupton Fawcett LLP, WGN Accountants, Yorkshire Bank and Exa Networks.

Speakers include: Dorothy Monekosso, Professor of Computer Science at Leeds Beckett; Eve Roodhouse, Chief Executive Economic Development at Leeds City Council; Merran McRae, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council; Rachel Engwell, Partner at Grant Thornton; Griselda Togobo, Owner and Managing Director of Forward Ladies; and Ellie MacDonald, Founder of PR, marketing and communications firm MacComms.

Speaking about the events, Professor Dorothy Monekosso said: “I studied engineering at university because I was passionate about the subject and about building things. After a decade in industry, I joined academia to pursue research. There is a serious issue with retention of female engineers compared to their male counterparts.

“We have witnessed in the past two decades an exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare innovation. It is important that women are part of this revolution. I am currently collaborating with universities across the North of England on the Inclusion Matters project where we aim to boost the participation of under-represented groups in engineering and physical sciences.”

Eve Roodhouse said: “These events are a great opportunity to encourage more women into leadership, especially as they are being delivered in Global Entrepreneurship Week where we celebrate innovators and job creators launching start-ups that bring ideas to life and drive economic growth.

“It’s vital that women feel confident to explore their options, both within a workplace, or starting up their own business, and these Innovation Networking events will pave the way for aspirational women to access peer learning, and programmes like AD:VENTURE, designed to boost the growth of new businesses across the region.”

Women in Leadership takes place at Piece Mill in Halifax on Monday 12 November, at 9 – 11am; at the ASIC building, Wakefield College, on Tuesday 13 November from 8.30 – 10.30am; and in the Parkinson Suite, No1 Leeds, Wellington Street, on Wednesday 14 November from 8.30 – 10.30am.

Each location is the home of a Leeds Beckett University Business Centre, providing office space, meeting facilities and a programme of business support to early stage businesses who are looking to grow.

Katie Rigarlsford, University Business Centre and Regional Business Development Manager at Leeds Beckett added: ““From 2007 to 2017, women’s board representation in FTSE 100 companies raised from 11% to 28%. Since the 2008 downturn, 58% of the newly self-employed have been female. So why do women account for just 17% of business owners?

“Men are twice as likely to be entrepreneurially active as women and apparently 10% of the female population are thinking about starting up a business. So, I am interested in hearing speakers’ stories to help us better understand the issues and to start thinking about what else Leeds Beckett University can do to support women in entrepreneurship.”

AD:VENTURE is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project, bringing together universities, councils and private sector partners across the Leeds City Region to provide expert support to young businesses with an ambition to grow.

Ambitious Yorkshire tech firm expands with six new recruits

Business expansion 2

Huddersfield-based tech firm, yboo, have recruited six new staff as the company continues its ambitious growth strategy to bring the money saving app to 60 million  smartphone users in the UK.

Loren Birkett, Keely Robinson, Josh Hoyle, Helen Cullinane, Mike Constantinou and Phil Kershaw all join the firm to raise the profile of yboo in the UK and launch a range of new features within the app to help consumers understand more and get the right mobile deal for them.

New features include detailed signal strength measurements where users live, work and hang out and rewards for sharing yboo or switching networks via yboo.

business expansion

Loren, A graduate of Huddersfield University, joins as Social Media Manager.  Loren will be delivering campaigns to ensure yboo is able to listen to and understand what Consumers want and need.  This will drive the launch of new yboo products in Q1 of 2019.

Keely, a graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University, joins as Affinity and Affiliate Campaign Manager.  Keely will be focusing on delivering yboo Social Responsibility activity including working with schools to ensure families without broadband have access to yboo mobile broadband devices.

Josh joins as Project Developer, is leading a website redesign and leading yboo outreach to Consumers raising the profile of the yboo brand both Nationally and Internationally as yboo moves into new markets and new verticals, while Helen, who has 20 years’ experience in the telecoms industry, joins as Head of Delivery. Helen will be responsible for implementing a governance structure and ensuring people, processes and technology come together elegantly to support yboo growth.

Mike and Phil are talented developers with passion for solving real problems using cutting edge technology to process and understand millions of events and bring real value to Consumers and Mobile Operators alike.

Founder and CEO Martyn Gould said of yboo’s new recruits: “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Loren, Keely, Josh, Helen, Mike and Phil to the yboo team. Each person brings something different, new skills and new views.   We now have a great blend of experience and talented youth as yboo continues its rapid ascendancy.

yboo is the only product that recommends on price and service quality saving the average Consumer £156/year with zero effort.  We compare 300,000 deals across the whole of the UK market in seconds giving Consumers real benefit and matching them to the best deal based on their unique usage pattern and behaviour.

The firm continues to recruit for additional staff to support its future development strategy which includes the delivery of an insight portal launching in early November. The portal enable will provide anonymised data to enable mobile network operators to fix blackspots in network coverage and build dynamic products to bring better value to the consumers they wish to target.

Blog Spot – Grant Funding FAQs.

Business Funding FAQs

Something we get asked about, ( A LOT!) when talking to businesses is grants.

A lot of businesses tell us they are put off making a grant application initially because they think it’s hard work. We wanted to share this blog we wrote for the Yorkshire Powerhouse website, which answers a lot of the FAQ’s we come across when chatting all things grants & SME funding.

The Yorkshire Powerhouse website also holds a lot of free resource and tools you might fight helpful when starting up or growing your business, and we’ve put links through the blog that you can use to access templates or further guidance.

We hope you find this blog useful, and if you want to chat with an adviser about applying for up to £25,000 in match funded AD:VENTURE Growth Grants, just give us a call on 0845 524 0210 or complete our easy programme registration form HERE

So…..here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers to help you get started.

I heard grant applications are really complicated?

In truth, grants are no more complicated than applying to any other financial lender, and you would present your case for a grant in much the same way you would for a loan. The added benefit of a grant is that you don’t have to pay it back.

To start the process, you need a sound business plan which should evidence how and why the grant money will increase the growth potential of your company. Grants are usually aimed at delivering growth, innovation or new products to market.

In our experience most businesses that receive a grant think this is a fair price to pay for an injection of capital to sustain their growth plans.

Why is it all about jobs and growth and innovation?

Most business support programmes and grant schemes are designed to help businesses expand and create new jobs. Even where the focus is on improving productivity or increasing exports, for example, the ultimate aim is to help businesses grow, boost the economy and create sustainable growth and employment. This is often linked to development of new products and innovation. Grant applicants will usually need to evidence their plans will create growth through employment, and will be expected to provide details of any jobs created. This is often linked to the funding offer, and can mean full grant cannot be claimed until this is provided.

How can I make sure I put in the best application and not waste my time?

Grant funders want see applications that are likely to be successful, so always discuss your application with your business adviser before you apply. Most organisations offering grants have advisors who can help you through their process. They can advise you on the kinds of things that can be included in your application. This might be considering how your growth meets the criteria for the grant scheme, and ensuring you have presented your best possible case.

This is also helpful when considering a blend of finance options and understanding what to use the different funds for, maximising the benefits of your grant.

Your adviser will act as a critical friend by going over your application, and giving you advice on areas that may need development or more clarity.

Having this support through the grant process will make it more likely your application will succeed.

My business plan is in my head!

While many SMEs often start without a comprehensive business plan, when it gets to the finance-raising stage this would be a must for any lender, demonstrating why the company is viable for lending. This usually includes forecasts of revenue, outgoings and activities associated with these, market researchcompetitors and promotional strategies.

This sounds like a lot of work………how hard is it?

A business plan does not have to be 100 pages!! Our friends at the Yorkshire Powerhouse have written an article extolling the virtues of a one page business plan! Business plans vary as much as businesses do, but they should give a clear line of sight for the business’s financial forecast, sales figures and demonstrate to any potential investor or lender why you are a viable business.

Ok – so how can I get help to develop my business plan?

There are a number of ways you can get help with this, depending on your needs . If you have a plan but need some pointers, regional advisors and support programmes can offer you advice and even feedback. They can’t write it for you, but can advise you.

You can also access workshops, aimed at helping you understand the business plan itself, and events to develop your understanding of essential areas, such as marketing, branding, market research and financial forecasting. Check out some of our FREE events.

Why can I only spend grant money on certain purchases? It’s confusing!

Grant programmes are aimed at helping companies invest in growth and it’s important to note that most, if not all, will not support what would be considered running costs.

The grant is designed to help make the investment happen – for example, where there’s a shortfall between how much you need to invest and the cash you’ve got in the business or SME funding you’ve been able to raise from the bank or other lenders. Sometimes, it’s about making an investment happen quicker so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity for your business.

Most grants cannot, however, be used for general day to day running costs or overheads such as rent, wages, energy bills or for buying in stock.

To help, here are some basic examples of eligible and non-eligible spend, with a brief explanation

  • Monthly marketing costs – these would be considered an ongoing business cost and would not be eligible.
  • IT equipment – where new kit is purchased to support production and generate jobs, this would be eligible.
  • Advertising campaign – a focused time limited campaign to access new markets or promote new product with a view to generating greater turnover and increased productivity could be eligible.
  • Office equipment & furniture – where the purchases are supporting expansion activity – e.g. Desks and computers for new members of staff – these would usually be eligible.
  • Production equipment – new kit to increase capacity or add new lines and products, as a growth focussed activity would usually be eligible.
  • Website development & design – whether starting up, or redesigning your existing, as long as the activity is intended to generate business growth, this would usually be eligible.
  • Rent – this would not be eligible as this would be classed as a running cost.
  • Consultancy costs – if the consultancy is aimed at developing the company, product or processes to deliver a project, this would be eligible. However, if it was an essential to the running of the company on a day to day basis, such as a HR person, this would fall within a running cost, and not be eligible.
  • Salaries – these are not be eligible as salaries would be classed as a running cost

 

What is match funding?

Most government grants are match funded. This means the business has to match the grant cash with some of their own. The level of match funding can vary from one grant programme to another.

For example, the Leeds city region ad:venture grant scheme has match rate of up to 50%. This means, in most cases if a business had a project that would cost £20,000, they could apply for up to £10,000 in grant, which is claimed back after the spend.

The match rate can vary depending on the grant, so it’s crucial that you understand what your level of match would need to be. This sort of information would be provided the grant provider or adviser.

Does the match have to be money in the business?

Not always. It can be from cash within the business but it could also be finance raised in other ways, for example, a business loan, external investment, a low rate government loan or even personal or family loan. Your business advisor can also advise you on other financial solutions and products to match with the grant. We work with a range of partners, some who also offer lending solutions including the Business Enterprise Fund. You cannot use money from other grant schemes as match funding, as rules say the business has to contribute.

Why do I have to provide evidence and quotes for purchases?

Most grants require quotes and evidence of final purchase for any products or services purchased using grant money. This is for audit purposes – so it has to be done – and is designed to help make sure you and the grant provider get value for money by testing the market. Where it’s a product, you can easily check the costs of a like for like product. For services, this would usually be done with issue of a spec for the service, with the potential supplier providing a quote or payment schedule.

Grant advisers and local support providers can give guidance on this, and have templates and examples if this is something you need assistance with.

Do I have to buy the cheapest then? What if it’s not the best?

No, the quote process is about due diligence, market fairness and value for money. You may feel one provider is a bit more expensive but their service or product is of a higher standard. You should select based on best value and what is right for your business.

Remember, a percentage of the cash spent is yours too so you want to make sure you have the best price and right product.

We use a basic template that can be used to evidence your assessment, and to make the process easier for you.

Why do I have to spend the cash before I can claim the grant money?

Not all grants work this way, but the majority do, and it’s important to be aware before you apply. The purpose of the grant is to help the business sustain itself financially at the crucial period when an investment has been made and cash flow may be under pressure as a result. Claiming the grant after the money is spent, this ensures you have the injection back into the business at the time it’s most needed. This can be also be done in stages as you spend, depending what works best for you and your business.

Grants & Funding FAQ’s summary

It’s likely that you will have more questions than we can provide answers to!

The answers above cover the majority of the questions we are usually asked. Take a look at the links and explanations of the various regional grants available by clicking on the grants and funding page on Yorkshire Powerhouse site. You can contact the funding providers with your specific questions, or for businesses under 3 years or new, AD:VENTURE advisors can help you navigate your options, and for those over 3 years, the Leeds City Region LEP have dedicated growth managers who can support you.

A final thought…….if you are starting, running or growing a business, there is a great deal of support out there and you don’t need to navigate it alone. You can also access invaluable non financial support that adds genuine value and clarity to your business.  Don’t miss out because you didn’t ask!

Check out some examples of AD:VENTURE Case Studies of business who didn’t miss out.

Think BIG…Think AD:VENTURE