Category: News

Bradford based Power Sheds founders named Disruptors of the Year

Power Sheds Award Win

The founders of Power Sheds, Jack Sutcliffe and Simon Hobson, have been named Disruptors of the Year for the north west at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Power Sheds, based on the Euroway Trading Estate in Bradford, manufactures garden sheds, potting sheds and bike sheds.

Now in its eighth year, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in partnership with Starling Bank celebrate the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs in the UK, rather than the business’ balance sheet.

The category looked for purpose-driven pioneers of change who spot the gaps and problem areas in markets to bring solutions that make our lives better – someone who brings unique, alternative products and practices that improve their sector and disrupt the status quo.

With Covid-19 restrictions preventing the regional finals taking place at a live event, Jack and Simon won the award during a virtual award ceremony joined by finalists across every region.

In a video message to finalists, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Entrepreneurs have shown they stay strong, even during a global pandemic. Coronavirus hasn’t stifled enterprise.

“Entrepreneurs are creating new businesses and adapting to the crisis, as seen in this year’s entries. And that’s what we need to happen if we want our economy to bounce back. We need all of you to keep inventing, keep taking risks, keep creating new businesses.

“It’s my job as Chancellor to celebrate, champion and support you.

“Congratulations to all the winners. Thank you to all of you for everything you’ve done.”

Francesca James, founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: “Jack and Simon have a wonderful entrepreneurial story and I’m delighted for them to win this award. I’ll be keeping a very close eye on what they do in the years to come and look forward to welcoming them to the community.”

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “We’re entrepreneurs and we have spirit. We fight back and we’re very good at dealing with adversity. And Jack and Simon are an example to us all, of entrepreneurs that are creative, innovative, and changing the world.

“I’m so excited that Starling, a business I founded in 2014 and now the Best British Bank, is sponsoring such an important Awards. And as one entrepreneur to another, congratulations to getting where you are this evening and best of luck for the future.”

The winners of each category will now go to the National Final of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, with a date to be announced due to restrictions on large events.

Local Wizards Looking for Hole In Wand with New Crowdfunding Campaign

Wizards-in-chiefs Phil Pinder (L) and Ben Fry (R) launch their Crowdfunder campaign to bring a new family-fun experience to York. CREDIT Frank Dwyer

After years of adding a sparkle to York’s famous Shambles with their enchanting potions, two entrepreneurs are looking to bring their magic to a new family-friendly experience in the heart of the city. And they are offering the chance to be part of making this dream a reality.

The city of York is certainly a magical place. Equally famous for its chocolate heritage as it is the plethora of ghosts and ghouls who continue to make the city their home. Now it is the turn of the witches, wizards and warlocks as two of the city’s entrepreneurs take on the challenge to bring more magic to York with their new venture – magically-infused mini-golf targeted at the family audience.

“We are so lucky to live and work in York, but when I come into town with my kids I sometimes struggle to find something that the whole family can all enjoy year-round. That’s what inspired the idea behind The Hole In Wand – an experience that all ages can enjoy and, importantly, keep returning to time and time again.”

Comments Chief Enchantment Officer Ben Fry – also known to many as the official Town Crier for the City of York.

With early concepts for the courses named Dragon’s Breath, Unicorn’s Folly and The Enchanted Forest in the works the team are already showcasing the whimsical approach The Hole In Wand will take.

The experience will open in the former premise of Patisserie Valarie, Coppergate, in early 2021 and is being designed to appeal to the city’s resident population, as well as welcoming York’s many family visitors throughout the year.

“What’s important to us is that The Hole In Wand becomes part of the everyday life of families in York. We want to be the place that families flock to as a special treat and to relax and unwind. We also want our marvellously-magical birthday parties to be the constant talk of the playground.”

Continues Ben

To bring their vision of an enchanting putting experience to life the team are looking for support from magic-fans in the community. They are aiming to raise £20,000 to bring their magic-infused dream venue for families into reality. In exchange for this support they are offering a series of special Crowdfunder offers, all with membership to their new ‘Magic Wanders’ club included.

“What we’ve done with our crowdfunding packages is to think about how we can add real value to what we are offering. From the smallest donation to our top package, everyone will be an equal member of our Magic Wanders Club. Whatever you can give you will get something spellbinding back and you will be a big part of our story.”

Added Phil Pinder, Director of Wizardry of York’s Potions Cauldron and Chair of the city’s Retail Forum.

The crowdfunding campaign will be in addition to the investment already being put forward by the enterprising duo, who have seen significant growth in their Potions Cauldron business. They now supply Hamleys of London and countless other stockists across the UK, as well as welcoming thousands of protege witches and wizards each year to their shop on The Shambles.

To pledge your support and to join the Magic Wanders club visit Crowdfunder and keep up with the progress of the campaign on Social Media using #HoleInWand.

5 Top Tips for Creating a Resilient Business

If the events of the past few months have taught us anything, it is that the world of business has shifted irrevocably.

Whole industries mothballed, household names brought to their knees, and entirely new business models forced on us with either days or even hours notice.

Whether we wanted to or not, we have all become practitioners in managing change, and it is some small comfort that we are very much all in this together.

However, some businesses will ride out the storm better than others and, more often than not, it will be because they have a more resilient business model. Granted, some of them will just be lucky, but there’s nothing wrong with making your own luck, so here’s our 5 top tips for creating a more resilient business.

No. 1 – Have a plan

It sounds obvious, but if you’re going to navigate your way through the numerous challenges we’re all facing right now, you need a plan. Not a 50 page essay that sits in a folder and never sees the light of day, but some clear direction of travel, a few top level metrics of how you can measure your progress, and some financial guidelines that let you know you’re doing the best job you can.

The best plans are re-visited regularly, updated and tweaked, but nevertheless they act as a sanity check on why you’re in business in the first place, and what you want out of it. Don’t be afraid to get a one-page version printed out and display it visibly in the workplace, because the best plans are the ones that the whole business signs up to, and where everyone knows what their role is.

No. 2 – It’s all about the money

Don’t let anyone kid you that money isn’t important because the tougher times get, the more important it becomes. Lenders love giving money to successful businesses, which is usually when you don’t need it, but you just try securing some funding when your numbers aren’t where they should be, as thousands of SMEs have found to their cost over the past few weeks.

From pre-arranged overdrafts to asset-based loans, there are several ways to inject cash into the business. By far the best approach though, is to be self-funding. This means being careful with any spare cash, making sure you build up a decent buffer to protect you from unforeseen circumstances, and if you own the business – don’t be too greedy.

No. 3 – Let your fingers do the walking

Those of a certain age will remember this slogan from a Yellow Pages ad (an old style, paper version of Google my Business!), but today it serves as a reminder to harness technology to save you any unnecessary legwork.

From cloud-based project management and accounting platforms, to automated inventory updates and e-commerce transactions, technology allows us to focus our efforts where they are most needed, and not on day to day admin. Plus, a leaner business is a more resilient one, thanks to lower overheads and a more agile business model.

No. 4 – Fail fast and succeed early

One of the key tenets of running an innovative, and therefore more resilient, business is to be open to trying new things, but also ring fencing those experiments so that they don’t bring the company down with them.

Don’t be scared to ask the market what it wants, and then trial your answer to see if you can make it work. Revise and re-iterate your products as you go, but above all else bear in mind that good enough is fine when you’re developing new products or services. And when the going gets tough remember – James Dyson built over 5000 prototypes before his first vacuum cleaner was a hit!

No. 5 – There’s no I in Team

It’s one of the oldest adages around when it comes to building a successful business – surround yourself with people who are better than you.  In these times of constant change and flux, you need to know that your team is on it, so recruit carefully and work hard to make them happy.

From instilling the right culture and values, to developing a world beating staff retention programme, it is your team who will help you pull through when it all goes wrong – your job is to help them to help you!

Free Support!

If you’d like a raft of free support in building a more resilient business to cope with our ever changing world, AD:VENTURE’s Survive & Thrive programme is now available to businesses in the Wakefield District.

If you’re an SME based within the Wakefield District area, predominantly working in the B2B arena or looking to grow that market and have been established less than 3 years, then we’d love to help you.

Find out more here, or watch our explainer video below!

Wakefield businesses given support to survive and thrive

Entrepreneurs  in Wakefield are being encouraged to join a programme of business support to help them survive and thrive in a post-Covid world.

The series of online events and one-to-one mentoring is open to all Wakefield business under three-years-old and is being run by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and AD:VENTURE, a support programme for businesses in North and West Yorkshire.

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for Economic Growth and Regeneration said: “Now more than ever, businesses need support. The pandemic presents the whole business community with huge challenges and creating more resilient new businesses is at the top of the list of what we need to do now.

“The programme and course content will help businesses reset for the current climate and give them the skills, insight and confidence to ensure they are fit for an ever-changing future, whatever the challenge.”

Businesses that sign up for the Survive and Thrive programme will benefit from a one-to-one diagnostic session to assess their needs, before being assigned an adviser from AD:VENTURE. They will be invited to attend eight interactive webinars that will cover topics from planning and finance to developing new products and services, and marketing.

AD:VENTURE, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), supports pre-start and new businesses which have been trading for up to three years and have ambitions for growth, with a mix of offerings, including mentoring, events, access to finance and grant funding.

Since AD:VENTURE started at the end of 2016 it has helped more than 3,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved more than 160 grants.

Among those who have received help from AD:VENTURE is bolt, which specialises in growth marketing, website design, customer relationship management (CRM) and branding for high-performing professional service organisations, including financial services, tech, engineering and commercial real estate.

The company, which turned over £680,000 in its first year, has its headquarters at the Junction workspace in Horbury, Wakefield, and has grown its team from two to 16 since setting up in summer 2019.

James Coughlan, head of operations at bolt, said: ““AD:VENTURE has opened doors for us by introducing us to local networks and contacts which have been invaluable in growing our operation in Wakefield and attracting talent in the region.

“Everyone at AD:VENTURE have been genuinely invested in our growth strategy which has really helped us develop as a business.”

AD:VENTURE’s partners include the region’s nine local authorities, including Wakefield Metropolitan District Council; the Business Enterprise Fund; the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, and higher education partners, including Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.

For more information about the Survive and Thrive programme please  go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/survive-thrive/

Wakefield agency turns over £680,000 in first year

A Wakefield marketing agency celebrated its first birthday with a turnover that has already reached £680,000.

bolt, which has its headquarters at the Junction workspace in Horbury, Wakefield, has grown its team from two to 16 since setting up in summer 2019. This has included taking on an apprentice, with plans to take on two more apprentices and other staff by the end of 2020.

The agency also has offices in London and Macedonia and a new location in Warsaw in Poland, which has begun hiring.

bolt specialises in growth marketing, website design, customer relationship management (CRM) and branding for high-performing professional service organisations, including financial services, tech, engineering and commercial real estate.

To support its expansion plans within the Leeds City Region, bolt has received mentoring through AD:VENTURE – a programme which helps pre-start and new businesses with growth potential in West and North Yorkshire including offering mentoring, events and access to finance.

bolt was set up by business partners James Coughlan and Jamie Clifton. The pair met in 2013 while working for a direct marketing agency in London.

James Coughlan, head of operations at bolt, said: “At bolt it’s our aim to become integral to a client’s business, helping them with client acquisition and growing their company profits. In our first year of trading we’ve been successful in securing contracts around the world, but it’s always been our aim to create a name for bolt closer to home.

“AD:VENTURE has opened doors for us by introducing us to local networks and contacts which have been invaluable in growing our operation in Wakefield and attracting talent in the region. Everyone at AD:VENTURE have been genuinely invested in our growth strategy which has really helped us develop as a business. We’re looking forward to working with them into the future.”

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “bolt is a fantastic example of the type of ambitious company that we are so proud to have here in Wakefield. They are creating jobs and boosting the local economy even in these difficult times.

“And it is important that we do our bit to support them, which is why the AD:VENTURE programme is so vital.”

Since AD:VENTURE started in early 2017, the programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has helped nearly 4,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved over 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Partners of AD:VENTURE include the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, with businesses also able to access academic input through programmes delivered by higher education partners, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.

Self storage company beats lockdown thanks to tech

A family-run self-storage company that opened in York just nine months ago has kept ahead of the competition, thanks to investing in online resources. 

Go Store self storage was set up by Rory Windham, his uncle Norman Galbraith and his cousin Jamie Galbraith, and offers storage space for people and businesses at its premises at Monk’s Cross Drive in York.  

The 900 storage units range from the size of a car boot to a squash court, and everything in between. In total the facility offers rentable spaces in 35 different sizes. 

Before and during the lockdown, thanks to grants of just over £11,000 from business support programme AD:VENTURE, the company had invested in IT improvements, such as VoIP telephones; website development, including dynamic pricing and booking; with plans for an online facility to sign contracts digitally, thus removing the need to meet face to face. 

The technology means Rory and the team can manage the facility remotely, allowing monitored access for customers and enabling the site to operate safely under Covid19 restrictions 

“It was a bit of a stroke of luck that we had all this in place for lockdown. It means the business was immediately more resilient and able to offer something many larger and more established storage sites couldn’t do,” said Rory. 

“We are competing against the big boys with deep pockets and the grants meant we can actually compete on that level. The new technology has helped us remain ahead of the market, and business is continuing to grow as we ease out of lockdown and the restrictions. 

The funding from AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)has also paid for high-quality furniture for the reception area to give customers a better experience.  

Go Store has created three jobs so far. But Rory says it has also helped create and support about ten other jobs indirectly, as local people use the site as a storage base for their e-commerce businesses.  

Rory and Norman had operated a similar business in the North East, before selling that to a national operator. 

They wanted to move to York as they saw a gap in the market for self-storage and took several years to acquire a suitable location; on a busy road by a retail park and popular drive-thru restaurants.  

“We wanted a visible site as we knew from previous experience that works so much better than being tucked away round the back of an industrial park,” said Rory. 

Councillor Andrew Waller, portfolio holder for Economy and Strategic Planning at York City Council, said “Go Store Self Service Ltd are an excellent example of how start-ups are contributing to the city’s economic growth and these will be vital to our recovery. It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company continuing to grow and create and support jobs despite the impact of Covid-19 is a much needed boost for everyone.  

Supporting our new and growing firms is an essential part of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer this much needed support to help our young firms to thrive. 

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, incubator office space, director networks and specialist sector advice. To qualify for AD:VENTURE support businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.  

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include Make it York and West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce 

To find out more about Go Store Self Storage go to https://www.gostore.co.uk/ and for AD:VENTURE please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk  

Entrepreneur hits right notes with Leeds app company

An entrepreneur who switched from classical music to app and web development is hitting all the right notes with his Leeds company looking to top £1m turnover.

Sam Ducker, who came to the city to study music, set up Lucky Duck in 2017 after deciding there were not many career opportunities playing the clarinet. The company now employs eight people full-time, is moving into new offices in Mabgate and has an office in London.

Lucky Duck works with some of the biggest, household-name tech companies in the world designing apps and complex websites. Its expansion has been supported by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Despite the lockdown Sam plans to take on four new employees this year and a further five next year. Turnover is expected to double this year from £350,000 to £700,000 and top £1m by the end of next year.

Sam says he has been entrepreneurial since he was a child; he sold sweets to his classmates at school, and has always wanted to run his own business. But he spent several years working for companies in web and app development before studying at Leeds College of Music

Sam said: “When I graduated I worked out there are literally only a handful of professional clarinet players in the country; so I went back to my plan of setting up a business.

“I was tempted by the idea of running a bar, but I had always been fascinated by the internet. Fourteen years ago my older brother who was an aerospace engineer said I should get into maths, physics and programming, and learn how to work with computers and technology.  So, I have him to thank.”

Lucky Duck was launched by Sam in his bedroom and soon grew. But Sam admits he was not so good at the admin side of the business.

“That’s where AD:VENTURE came to my help. They literally sat me down and helped me do all the stuff like accounts, sales and funding applications. And I had a brilliant mentor who has helped me every step of the way,” said Sam.

“I really can’t say enough good things about the AD:VENTURE programme. They are there for you to help your business thrive and they really encourage entrepreneurship in the region.”

As well as one to one mentoring, Sam has been helped with access to funding, including an AD:VENTURE grant of £2700 that supported a digital marketing campaign and purchase of virtual meeting kit to help the business adapt and thrive during lockdown.

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer of Economic Development at Leeds City Council said “Lucky Duck are an excellent example of how digital start-ups are contributing to the region’s economic growth. It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company thriving and creating new jobs is a positive boost for everyone. Supporting new and growing firms is an important aspect of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer much needed support to help our young firms in achieving their ambitions”

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, accelerators, grant funding, access to networks and specialist sector advice. To qualify for AD:VENTURE support businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities.

To find out more about Lucky Duck go to https://luckyduck.digital/ and for AD:VENTURE https://ad-venture.org.uk/

ACCELERATE Goes virtual to boost business recovery

Leeds Beckett University is urging the regions young businesses to sign up for the third cohort of its popular accelerator programme.

Launching in late July, ACCELERATE has been reshaped to address the impacts of COVID 19 and will give SMEs in the Leeds City Region expert help and advice to regain control, build resilience and prepare to embrace the new business landscape.

Businesses accessing the support through Accelerate will benefit from a series of 6 pre-recorded Masterclasses covering key topics such as Re-setting the Business, Re-connecting with Customers and Moving my Finances Forward, all of which can be accessed flexibly as a result of the new virtual delivery style.

The programme also includes a weekly live webinar to explore the Masterclass topics, giving businesses the opportunity to discuss the topics with an academic lead and other businesses taking part.

Those taking part will also have exclusive access to 15 hours of one to one mentoring, supported by guided learning tasks and access to a resource library to help them develop their own Action Plan for recovery.

In addition to this comprehensive offer , ACCELERATE will also provide access to wider University support including student and graduate talent via recruitment, internships and placements and opportunities to collaborate on research projects.

As part of the wider AD:VENTURE business support programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development fund, there will also be opportunity for delegates to access advice and support in applying for grants and funding.

Kirstie Frenneaux, project manager at Leeds Beckett University says, “In these uncertain times, we want to help businesses regain focus, provide them with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and give them the confidence and support to get their business back on track’’

Helen Hepworth, founder of Collective Stories Agency said this about her experience of ACCELERATE “I can’t praise it enough. It’s challenging and the content is very strategically driven. You will think of things you have never considered before. There are a lot of lightbulb moments!

It brings focus and clarity and it gave me the tools and skills I needed to scale up. It also introduced me to a lot of other outside agencies too which has been invaluable”

The Accelerate programme is available to organisations that are aiming to grow and create jobs in the Leeds City Region; deliver products or services to other businesses rather than direct to the consumer; and any organisations looking for a structured programme, with flexible one to one support.

For further details about the Accelerate programme or to register your interest, please visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/unisupport/accelerate/

Northern Max 3 cohorts prepare for the big pitch!

The Northern Max 3 programme has just finished its final workshop! 10 weeks have flown by and through hard work and dedication, so much has been achieved by all involved.

Workshop 10 had a different feel to the other sessions as it was based around pitching your business.  Russell Copley took the cohort through a whistle-stop tour of all things pitching and investment, and then we spent the rest of the session coaching the businesses helping them craft their approach, all with the valuable support of Penny Coulthard from North Invest.  The accelerator programme, and in particular, this final workshop has been building the businesses up in preparation for the live pitching event on the 2nd July.

The final event will see the cohort present their businesses to a panel of 4 judges, in front of a large (zoom) live audience all in the hope they will be crowned ‘winner’; although each business is very deserving of that title regardless of the outcome.

The last session was topped off with the final masterclass with Ellen Chapman, MD of TrickleNet.  TrickleNet were the very worthy winners of last year’s 10by10 accelerator programme in Lincoln.  Ellen was full of praise for the programme and helped allay any fears/nerves/wobbles the current cohort may have before the face the panel next week.  ‘It is terrifying but you just have to think what have I got to lose’ – wise words from Ellen, who hasn’t looked back since she won with her business going from strength to strength.

The Northern Max 3 programme has taken the 15 businesses through 10 workshops, 3 speed-dating sessions, and a total of 5 masterclasses (and 1 pitching final on its way), and it has been a fantastic journey.  There will be many case studies to follow as a result of everyone’s hard work, so watch this space!

Northern Max 3, is a specialist business support programme for digital and technology firms in the Leeds/Bradford area.  This fully funded business support programme, running across a period of ten weeks, started on 23 April.  Northern Max 3 is being delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic.

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3

Northern Max 3 Hits the halfway point on virtual delivery and top marks on results!

The Northern Max 3 programme is now over half-way, having just delivered its 6th workshop, 3rd masterclass and 2nd ‘speed dating’ meeting.  The programme is taking the 15-strong cohort through a very intensive workshop schedule where there has been a lot of self-assessment and analysis resulting in some startling revelations about themselves!

The cohort have been working collectively throughout the programme and have already developed relationships that will continue post the 10-week programme.

Week 3 delivered by Sara Scott focused on route to markets and the core elements that make up, influence and affect a business’ brand.

Alison Bull, Founder of Tandem Agency delivered week 4’s workshop and built on the foundations of Sara’s session looking at profiling the customer.

Lisa Grogan, co-CEO of Overlap Associates addressed the cohort from Canada about user-centred design to develop strategies, plans and a way of solving problems and the principles of how she started and grew her business as well as juggling a family life.

Week 5 featured Paula Finch talking about people and resources, where she led the group through a shared understanding of the principles of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and how this is critical to building work teams.

Week 6 started with Sankar Sivarajah, Head of School of Management at Bradford University talking all things circular economy, partnerships and the importance of inclusive strategies.  Annabelle Beckwith followed the masterclass with her session on Partnerships and Collaborations and the importance of finding the right business partner – along with the horror stories!

Initial feedback from participants has all been positive, some highlights below:

“It helped me to think about what my audiences are looking for and how to speak to them in a way that will make them take action”

“the presentation skills really made me think about my own development and how I can look to improve how I interact with people”

Northern Max 3, is a specialist business support programme for digital and technology firms in the Leeds/Bradford area.  This fully funded business support programme, running across a period of ten weeks, started on 23 April.  Northern Max 3 is being delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic.

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3