Tag: Ad:venture

TECH START-UP SET TO BE GLOBAL GRAND SLAM

A Leeds-based digital community and performance app for amateur tennis players is preparing for launch thanks to the guidance and support the founders received from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme supporting start-ups and scale ups throughout the Leeds City Region.

Founded by Cameron Almas and Jake Fox, WeTennis provides the sporting community with a platform that connects players together and allows them to track and display their performance stats against other enthusiasts.

Recognising that tennis players were being underserved by digital propositions, the founders developed a platform that uses match data to deliver advanced analytics and smart matchmaking allowing players to have a unique digital experience, accompanying their passion for the sport.

Understanding the importance of being surrounded by people with valuable experience and expertise, Cameron and Jake approached AD:VENTURE and were connected with professional Business Engagement Manager, Deborah Hetherington.

Jake comments: “I’m from a commercial background and Cameron’s past experience includes tennis retail, but as first-time founders of a business we needed to be connected with the right people to help validate the demand for WeTennis and also access support that could help us to make it happen.

“Deborah was an incredible help. Not only was she very informative and easily accessible, she also had access to a very diverse network of professionals. She connected us with Leeds Beckett University lecturer, Paul Rhodes, who acted as a mentor in the early days of WeTennis and helped us shape the value proposition and route-to-market strategy.”

Jake and Cameron also attended a one-day event in Halifax facilitated by AD:VENTURE, which was a “knowledge sprint” workshop offering a detailed insight into different areas of business, from product development, marketing and securing funds to name a few.

Along with the mentoring support, WeTennis also benefited from the work carried out by a team of students from Leeds Beckett University. The student team worked with WeTennis over a three-month period, conducting consumer market research in order to validate the demand for the product.

Jake comments: “The event in Halifax, which I saw as a ‘knowledge sprint’, showed us how to secure funding, market our product and the process of product development. Following this, the next step was to test and develop the WeTennis prototype.

“Once again, through Paul, a team of students from Leeds Beckett University collaborated with us for a three-month period, adding invaluable insight in how to tweak and change the app in preparation for its launch.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, comments: “As well as accelerating the growth of established businesses across the Leeds City Region, the AD:VENTURE programme also helps empower budding entrepreneurs that are taking their first steps into launching brand new ventures.

“The Leeds City Region is becoming one of the UK’s leading hotspots for innovative, tech start-ups and WeTennis is no exception. Both Jake and Cameron are bringing to market an extremely exciting and unique offering, which is why the support, advice and guidance from AD:VENTURE has been so crucial.

“With such a diverse economy, it is great to know there is a programme in place that can offer expert support to start-ups and scale ups that helps them to grow and flourish.”

Following the early support received from AD:VENTURE, WeTennis built a well-rounded business plan which then helped secure £40,000 funding from the Business Enterprise Fund. This funding has been used to build the first version of the WeTennis app and the company has now established partnerships with clubs and universities in the UK and USA.

With the ability to record games, track and display performance analytics and interact with other players, WeTennis is aiming to become sports newest global digital community.

Find out more information about the WeTennis app here: https://wetennis.app/. To find out about the practical and funding support that can be accessed through AD:VENTURE please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.

Access Hospitality on shaking up the hospitality service sector with AD:VENTURE.

Stuart Hill set up to Access Hospitality, to enable adults with learning disabilities to gain fulfilling, paid employment in the hospitality sector. He looked to AD:VENTURE for support and guidance to help grow his business.

Stuart explains his connection with AD:VENTURE and how the programme helped his business.

“The reason that this came about is around 4 years ago I set up a rugby team for adults with disabilities, and a couple of the lads that play on our team expressed an interest in working behind the club bar.”

“We went away and looked at what the barriers to that role were and how we could reduce or remove those to enable the job to be fulfilling and for them to be efficient in a service role, and the support that I have got from AD:Venture has been fantastic to help me with this project.”

“First of all, I am not from a business background, I’m a teacher by trade and so although I knew the user group and I knew the problem, I didn’t know how to formulize that into an effective business plan and I didn’t know enough about individual areas of specialisms or expertise to be able to move it forward.”

“AD:Venture supported me in helping me attend the Bradford Council Northern Max Accelerator programme which got lots of specialists together over a 3 month period and I came out of that having absolutely transformed the idea from ‘How do I get a couple of lads at a local sports and community club working behind the bar?’ to ‘Actually, this programme could support jobs in national hospitality chains, it could work across different sectors.’”

“There was a challenge there on my thinking towards the idea and growing the idea, but then I have worked on the building blocks to put in place to let me know how I could go about doing that.”

“One of the things that I don’t have in setting up a business is time and going to lots of networking events, to eventually get to the right people, was frustrating and having Eric as a business advisor has managed to cut through that.”

“The advice that I have had has been from either experts in their field, or people with years of experience, so it’s been hugely beneficial.”

“I have now got an office at the Leeds Beckett University Business Centre for 6 months and compared with working at home, where there are lots of distractions, having an office space a shared office space with inspiring people around me has made me much more productive.”

“In terms of the business and where it goes, it’s now very open, so we are testing lots of different sectors, we are testing lots of different markets and that’s exciting because rather than just having a one dimensional plan, we feel we have got a stronger plan, that has different income streams identified and different opportunities.”

To find out more about how AD:VENTURE can help accelerate your business growth get in touch today.

 

AD:VENTURE CELEBRATING 3 MORE YEARS OF INTENSIVE SUPPORT FOR REGIONS START-UPS

We are delighted to share the following news about our programme!

AD:VENTURE, our ERDF part funded programme supporting start-ups and scale-ups with practical support and match-funded grants, has been awarded an extension by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Testament to the success of the programme, which has actively worked with over 1,513 businesses and 1,019 individuals, AD:VENTURE will now run to 2022, making it a six year programme with a value of £18.2m.

Engaging with 710 young people to explore enterprise or self-employment and delivering a schedule of more than 200 events, resulting in 287 additional jobs, the balance of both practical and grant assisted support delivered by professionals has provided significant benefits to business.

96 organisations have received match-funded grants since the programme launched in late 2016, with 125 approved projects representing a total combined worth of £2.3m, securing £665,849 from the AD:VENTURE programme.

Delivered by a consortium of public and private sector organisations, the programme offers tailored packages of support to start-up businesses throughout the Leeds City Region.

Access to workshops, seminars and specialist sessions is complemented by one-to-one assistance from professional Business Advisors, enabling personalised support tailored to the needs of each organisation and the challenges they are facing to growth and future success.

Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, Roger Marsh OBE, comments: “The success of the AD:VENTURE programme really does tell its own story. The business community throughout the Leeds City Region is vibrant, diverse and growing. Having ongoing access to the support, advice and guidance from experts, as well as funding provision, can only enhance this further.

“Knowing that start-ups and young organisations are attending workshops and accessing the bespoke help that they need is reassuring. It shows that we have in place the provision we need to nurture entrepreneurship across our region and to become an example of best practice for others.”

Working with partners across Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York, the extension means the AD:VENTURE programme will continue to deliver the same model of support across each town and city.

Michael Burnham of Hydro-Flux in Batley comments: “Without AD:VENTURE there is no way we could have put our idea into practice. Not only did we need some guidance and governance to make sure we were following the necessary processes, but we were also finding it difficult to raise the funds, as the equipment and tooling isn’t cheap.

Michael and Douglas Burnham, Hydro-Flux, Batley, Yorkshire

Securing the grant made all of the difference and we went from kitchen table to furnished offices almost overnight. It was great. Not only was the environment different but we were also able to approach the business with a different mindset”

Andy Jack and Mark Langdale, at Candle Digital, Leeds Beckett University Business Centre, Piece Mill, Halifax

Mark Langdale from Candle Digital, based in Halifax said: “We can’t recommend AD:VENTURE or Leeds Beckett University enough. The support we have received is far beyond anything we could ever have expected. We would suggest to any start-up or young business that they investigate the advice, guidance and sessions that are on offer and make the most of them”

 

Helen Northard, who recently launched Human Spirit Ltd said “If I hadn’t had the support from AD:VENTURE I wouldn’t have had the courage to go for a tender. It’s not about my self-belief or knowing that I can deliver for my customers, it’s about taking steps that are very much outside of my comfort zone. Having a business can be isolating, especially when you’re used to working for big corporations, but with the support from AD:VENTURE I’ve had access to professional training sessions, advisors and a network of trusted partners, I can’t recommend the programme enough!”

Director of Crimson Bear based in Craven, Paul Johnson, comments: “When we launched the business we always intended to grow but by accessing the AD:VENTURE programme we were able to move our plans forward and put them into practice far sooner. Thanks to the grant and the practical support we were able to benefit from, we are now on track to turnover £2m, which is excellent news.”

For further details about AD:VENTURE please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates follow @ADVENTURE_LCR.

Business Woman Swaps Smart Suits For Smartphone

After a successful career as a Sales Director, travelling the world and enjoying a healthy package, a desire to try new things and push her personal boundaries led Michelle Cowan to review her priorities.

Putting her passport to one side, Michelle took the opportunity to spend time with friends, family and associates before deciding what to do next.

It was during these conversations she recognised that there were three simple things stopping smaller organisations and start-ups from using social media for business; time, the cost of hiring an agency and creativity.

Eighteen months later, with a business partner and thanks to lots of hard work, Michelle launched My SMART App, a downloadable app that based on a user’s preferences can create, schedule and post content to Twitter and Facebook business pages.

Available from Google and Apple App Stores, the product uses content that is based on days of the week, awareness days, weeks, months and key UK events making it ideal for businesses that target a consumer facing audience.

Furthermore, the device allows the user to customise the pre-prepared posts, to add personality and use the correct tone of voice for the business, while also accepting unique content too, supporting smaller organisations as they build their brand and presence online.

Michelle comments: “If someone had told me two years ago that I would be running my own organisation and that it would solve a problem and meet with the challenges that are faced by other small businesses I would have thought they were crackers!

“As it stands, that’s exactly what has happened. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, not least from business support services such as AD:VENTURE, and can see that taking the time to attend workshops, sessions and networking has all been worth it. Knowing that we have a product that is available for download is really exciting!”

The My SMART App is available for download with a 60-day free trial and then a monthly cost of just £8.49. For further details please visit www.mysmartapp.co.uk

Success for small businesses in Yorkshire in Leeds Beckett awards

A Leeds Beckett University student with a therapeutic horticulture social enterprise, an e-learning training business and an all-female multimedia production company are among the winning entries in the 2019 Business Advantage Awards.

Five early-stage businesses scooped the awards – run by Leeds Beckett University in partnership with solicitors Lupton Fawcett, WGN Accountants and Yorkshire Bank – with each of them receiving £5,000 worth of legal support and mentoring. £1,000 of accountancy advice and 36 months’ free business banking.

The awards were presented on 25th March at the Innovation Network event in Leeds. These quarterly events are held at each of the University Businesses Centres in Leeds, Halifax and Wakefield and bring together start-up and early stage businesses to explore key themes and make connections.

Candle Digital, set up by Andy Jack and Mark Langdale, were delighted to be rewarded with a prize just 2 years after starting up. Working with training providers and coaching professionals Candle Digital provides expertise to help create digital training products online. The business has recently taken office space in the Leeds Beckett University Business Centre in Halifax.

Andy Jack, Candle Digital said; “We’re thrilled to have been given this opportunity, the awards, expertise and support will make a real impact on our business and help us take the next step in our growth.” 

Other winners included Krishna Patel owner of Dilishque, a manufacturer of authentic curry paste pots, Sophie Mei Lan Hale from Evoke Media Group, a film and media production company, Lemonbalm a therapeutic horticulture social enterprise run by student Isabel Swift and Binary Forge Ltd, a new software consultancy business specialising in Internet of Things devices recently set up by Glenn Pugh and Matthew Roberts.

The Business Advantage Awards began in 2015 and are open to students and graduates of Leeds Beckett (within five years of graduation), clients of the University’s Business Centres in Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax and businesses receiving support from AD:VENTURE – a European, ERDF funded programme which helps early stage businesses in the Leeds City Region to grow.

Simon Baldwin, Head of Research & Enterprise at Leeds Beckett University said ‘We are delighted to work again with our partners Lupton Fawcett, WGN and Yorkshire Bank on our annual Business Advantage Awards which have now provided invaluable support to over 25 early stage businesses in the last 4 years. The number and standard of entries continues to grow each year and we look forward to working with this years cohort’

Pitch with Confidence, a story of Human Spirit

When people discuss business support programmes the hot topic is usually grant funding and finance. Well, we have some news for you. The experience of start-ups who have accessed business support products show we shouldn’t underestimate the value and positive impact that the practical services delivered by professionals can have at those crucial stages in the growth journey.

Helen Nothard had come to a crossroads in her professional journey. With an 18-year career and as a Chartered Fellow in HR and having been offered a promotion that would see her travel the world, she realised that despite the benefits package, salary and status, she wanted to take the step and become her own boss and so launched Human Spirit Ltd.

Helen is an expert in her industry and had enjoyed a successful career, but actually launching a business was a daunting task and Helen hadn’t considered all of the additional processes, procedures and skills she would need to know.

Helen says: “I’d worked for someone else for 20 years and just didn’t have a clue about the things I needed to consider outside of my role. It wasn’t just about being the best at what I was offering my clients, it was about understanding how to register a company, knowing what paperwork needed filing and when!”

That was when Helen met AD:VENTURE advisor, Alan Thompson, who was able to explain about the programme and the huge range of support that it could offer to start-ups and scale-ups. 

Helen adds: “I worked with Alan to look at my business plan and he was very good at getting me to hone my message. Suddenly it made sense to focus on one thing rather than trying so hard to be all things to all people, a trap that I now realise lots of start-ups fall into.”

She had a strong network around her that could give her the expert advice she needed, and Helen also found that she could call upon her advisors to give her the additional confidence she needed when looking to pitch for larger contracts.

Helen comments: “Although I had previously dismissed tenders, Alan had real confidence in me and made me look at these opportunities slightly differently. There was a voice in my head saying ‘I can’t do this’ but we worked together to change that mindset and decided that I would look at this as a live practice and so that’s what I did.”

The outcome? Not only did Helen submit her tender but was invited to present and subsequently won the contract with a leading public sector organisation. Well done Helen!!!

She continues: “It I hadn’t had the support from AD:VENTURE I wouldn’t have had the courage to go for a tender. It’s not about my self-belief or knowing that I can deliver for my customers, it’s about taking steps that are very much outside of my comfort zone.

“Having a business can be isolating, especially when you’re used to working for big corporations, but with the support from AD:VENTURE I’ve had access to professional training sessions, advisors and a network of trusted partners, I can’t recommend the programme enough!”

So when you are launching a business, don’t dismiss the value of programmes like AD:VENTURE – Whether it’s accessing networks, pitching your product, having that honest, experienced critical friend, finding those crucial connections or understanding how to plan for growth, there is lots of help and support in addition to funding and finance.

£6000 of Scale-Up support from Leeds Beckett University

Workspace offer for NEW AD:VENTURE clients at Leeds Beckett University Business Centre’s

Free office facilities & a chance to win over £6,000 of business support

Leeds Beckett University is offering businesses the chance to kick start their growth plans in 2019 with a package of free support worth over £6000!

Eligible businesses will be able to register their business address and enjoy access to hot desking space at one of the University Business Centres in Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax for 6 months completely free of charge as part of the fantastic Grow Your Business offer.

All businesses will also benefit from a one to one diagnostic to help tailor a package of support through the ERDF funded Ad:Venture programme which includes expert mentoring, masterclasses and consultancy. Each business can access a minimum of 12 hours support to help fuel growth, increase turnover, create jobs or develop new products and services.

Businesses can also enter the annual Business Advantage Awards where 5 businesses can win a year’s free accountancy and legal support and 3 years free business banking (worth in excess of £6,000) Free specialist support will be offered through corporate partners – Yorkshire Bank, Lupton Fawcett, WGN, Exa Networks, The Yorkshire Post, Calderdale Council, Wakefield Council and Wakefield College. The awards deadline is the 27th February 2019.

By signing up to the AD:VENTURE programme through Leeds Beckett University business can take advantage of this incredible offer, as well as benefiting from a whole range of support across the region including access to growth grants worth £25,000, mentoring, networks and business development events.

‘’Working with Leeds Beckett University and AD:VENTURE has given us the space and time to grow faster and in a more sustainable way. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support that we have received.

We have a stronger understanding of who we are, why we’re doing this and who we should target. Moving to our new offices at the University Business Centre is a huge step forward for us and we are looking forward to what the future holds.’’ (Andy Jack, Candle Digital, An AD:Venture supported business).

The offer is open to new and growing businesses less than 3 years old and located in the Leeds City Region and is available to eligible businesses until July 2019.

For information about the offer, our Centres, eligibility and the support that is offered by AD:VENTURE please contact us:

www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/universitybusinesscentres

e: ubc@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

t: 0333 555 8855

 

Get me started network launches in Wakefield

These FREE networking and support sessions will connect new and young businesses to people with the similar experiences and challenges, providing a valuable insight to help with their growth plans.

Innovative and resourceful business leaders from industries as diverse as web development, pet food & nutrition, health & well-being and snack food manufacturing attended the first event and  shared a wealth knowledge in this very first session, proving that it doesn’t have to be lonely starting a business!

Daniel Downs said it was “A valuable session for sure and will grow from strength to strength” as the weeks go on, relationships build and discussions become richer.

Some of the challenges business discussed included:

  • The science behind pricing
  • The misconceptions of FREE not being valuable
  • Finding the right talented team to suit your business
  • As the Business owner how do you make efficient use of your own time
  • Legal and Contractual obligations
  • How to -Sales techniques

Does this sound like something you need to be part of? It’s not too late to benefit from this start up network & peer to peer discussion as sessions will run every third Thursday of the month. Each session will be structured depending on topics covered previously and demand from the group.

The next session will take place on Thursday 21st February, from 8:30-10am will feature Alexis Bradbury focusing on Sales – Everything from cold calling and business development to e-commerce, interactive tools, digital content development and SEO/PPC.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR SPOT AT THE NEXT EVENT!

Get Me Started is part of the AD:VENTURE business Support Programme and receives funding from the 2014 – 2020 European Regional Development Fund.

AGENCY GETS ITS ‘WISH’ AS TURNOVER INCREASES 60% IN TWELVE MONTHS

Wish Digital, based just outside of Wetherby are celebrating after securing multiple account wins including Capita Customer Management, adding four new members to the team and increasing turnover by 60% in the last year.

Following an office move to a new Granary building, the business applied for a match-funded grant from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF programme supporting start-up and young businesses across the Leeds City Region, that would be used to put the infrastructure in place that would see its planned expansion become a reality.

Securing more than £7,000, the agency used the funds to fit out the office space and purchase equipment that would give digital marketers and developers access to the latest MAC computers and latest software, while older equipment was upgraded.

Wish Digital Ltd. Photography Bruce Fitzgerald

Director at Wish Digital, Chris Kell, comments: “It’s been a really strong year for us here at Wish and we have to attribute some of that to the funding we secured from AD:VENTURE. Having a professional office space, with leading equipment and facilities that give the right impression when you welcome clients should never be underestimated.

“Securing accounts, expanding the team and increasing our turnover has really set the foundations for the year ahead. As we consider our next three years we will be accessing the practical support and events that the AD:VENTURE programme offer and would encourage other young businesses with ambitious targets to do the same.”

Roger Marsh, OBE Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Accelerating the growth of businesses across Leeds City Region is key to achieving a strong, successful economy and the support and funding businesses can access through AD:VENTURE is helping to achieve just this.

“I am delighted to hear that Wetherby-based Wish Digital is winning new customers, growing their team and increasing turn over and will continue to access the support available through AD:VENTURE as it continues to grow.”

With 16 staff working across the Wish Group, which provides specialist digital and marketing services to organisations of all sizes, the company has plans to extend its client portfolio to include more household names and blue-chip brands in the next twelve months.

For further details about Wish Digital, please visit: www.wishdigital.co.uk or call 0113 4684340 and for information about the AD:VENTURE programme and the practical and match-funded support it offers, please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.

Equal Care Co-op are Crowdfunding! – a new co-operative owned by care workers and the people they support

SME Funding

This is such a great story we had to share it – Ambitious and ethical start-up, Equal Care Co-op are crowdfunding to change the balance on of power in the provision of care services. Based at the University Business Centre in Halifax, this start-up is one to watch.

Read on to discover why……..

Imagine if Uber was owned by its drivers. Imagine if taskers got to make decisions about how TaskRabbit was run. This is exactly what Equal Care proposes to bring to social care with its exciting and radical new business model.

Equal Care Co-op is the UK’s first social care platform co-operative. The team are setting out to change the traditional homecare industry, refocusing the power, choice, and control onto the most important people involved: the people receiving the care and the people providing it – be they paid or unpaid, a family member or a professional carer.

This is a real gig economy alternative that pays equal attention to the rights of workers and the rights of those they support.

The gig economy has received a great deal of publicity in recent years – not all of it good. The formula has – inevitably – extended to the world of care work and there are now some established platforms offering a vetted labour pool and easy process for booking care workers of your choice.

However, the existing gig-economy platforms are vulnerable to the same criticisms levelled at nearly all companies operating such a business model. The worst-offending companies tell care workers that they have to offer a flat rate, that any bad review will knock them straight off the platform (one strike and you’re out) and that too many rejections of work opportunities will also push them off the platform.

On the other hand, some of the better platforms have gone on to become care providers in their right. Others remain as introductory agencies, avoiding the regulatory requirements involved in care provision, maintaining their status as technology services companies rather than providers of care.

All of these platforms are privately owned, and all of them retain a value-extraction based business model which charges a commission on every hour of care given. In most cases, these companies are angling for an exit from the market and a windfall for the founders and early-stage investors.

Equal Care Co-op has a different focus. By changing the balance of power that currently exists in services, some magical things can happen: people choose who supports them, workers get paid a decent wage, the huge levels of turnover in care services can stop. And people being supported get a chance to help others too.

Big ideals do not map well onto big profits, so Equal Care Co-op’s start-up route is a grant-dependent, CrowdFunder-led one. It will be making use of Community Shares – a recent investment vehicle only open to co-operative and community benefit societies. However, the equity-loaded finance that drives most ventures of this type is closed to them.

Founder Emma Back said: “We’re looking at strawberry patch principles, sociocracy based growth models and federated structures. There are many possibilities for growth that don’t entail becoming enormous and monolithic, but where you can still be large enough to offer a real alternative to the private companies taking UK care contracts.”

Equal Care Co-op recently participated in the world’s first platform co-operative accelerator, designed by Co-operatives UK and funded by the Co-operative Bank.

Ed Mayo, Secretary-General of Co-operatives UK, observed: In Equal Care we have a viable, alternative and pioneering model for social care as well as platform co-ops, and we’re incredibly excited to see what the future holds. Co-operatives UK has been delighted to support Equal Care in its development – through UnFound, an accelerator for platform co-op, and through The Hive, our support programme for co-operatives in partnership with The Co-operative Bank”

Fran Watson, Founder Member of Equal Care and an independent care worker herself, says: “The biggest issue for me was having the reassurance of getting enough work and having the right amount. It’s finding the work that takes the time and effort. I know of no independent care workers who do 15-minute slots. You just can’t do it. The options are either to go with an agency or go it alone.”

Equal Care has now launched the invitation-only, first iteration of their platform. They are a co-operative that prioritises power, money and decision-making truly sitting on the front line, thus offering potential for community-led scale.

Equal Care aren’t rolling in venture capital, they are bootstrapping with the best of them, but they need help. They have just released their Christmas CrowdFunder and are looking for support to help get the vision flying. Please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/equal-care-co-op and help change social care.