Tag: Business Support

Leeds childhood friends reunite to spark success

Two former childhood friends from Leeds have reunited to create an award-winning electrical business with a turnover of £2.5m.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombe set up National Safety Inspections (NSI) in 2017 after spotting a gap in the market.  The company, which has just expanded into bigger offices, specialises in electrical testing for letting agents and landlords.

NSI employs 20 people at its headquarters in Armley, having taken over an extra floor just before Christmas to accommodate more staff, and has 25 engineers across the UK.

The pair, who used to walk to school together in Tingley, kept in touch even though Dan moved to Scotland and worked in sales. Andy, meanwhile, worked as an electrician and a lecturer in Leeds.

In 2017 a chance conversation led them to realise they had the perfect combination of skills to create a start-up, with Dan having extensive sales experience from medical sales to solar panels, and Andy having knowledge of electrical safety. Andy also knew that few companies specialised purely in electrical testing.

Dan said: “Out of the blue me and Andy spoke to each other about the idea of setting up and just offering testing, and then we just said, let’s do it. So, I moved back to Leeds.

“We were ambitious to be national even as a start-up. That’s why we called ourselves National Safety Inspections, even though we were just in a little office in the city.”

By the end of 2017 they had taken on three staff and were working for several student letting agencies. But then they realised a new law due to come in would open up even more opportunities. The new rules, which didn’t actually come in until June 2020, meant private sector landlords would have to carry out electrical checks every five years.

Andy said: “Student lets were pretty good at doing electrical checks, but the private sector needed to catch up. We realised if we were going to get the work we would have to scale up and get ahead of the game.”

That was when they turned to AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). They were successful in applying for two grants through the programme, one for £4,300 towards a comprehensive CRM system, and another of over £14,000 towards equipment, including laptops for engineers out on the road, and website development and SEO.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombes outside the new NSI HQ

“Most electrical companies do testing as a side-line. They do it with a view to getting installation work. But we just do the testing and so we needed to put the resources into that and be able to do it well and efficiently,” said Andy.

By the start of 2020 Andy and Dan had 15 staff and had signed with several letting agencies. Then lockdown struck, but it turned out to be perfect timing.

Andy was invited to take part in an AD:VENTURE accelerator called Northern Max. Through that he was given a mentor who helped both him and Dan realise they needed to re-think their approach in order to successfully scale the business.

“It made us change focus. Rather than working in the business, it got us to allocate more time to working on the business. We could have stopped at 15 staff, but we wanted it to be bigger. So, we took on someone to do business development and two more sales staff,” said Andy.

The growth didn’t stop there. NSI finished 2020 with 45 staff, creating 30 new jobs through 2020, with engineers across Yorkshire, Lancashire, the north east, the midlands, and down to Reading and Oxford. And they have plans to extend into the rest of England and grow to 100 staff this year.

In 2019, and again in 2020, NSI won the best in sector for electrical services to the estates and lettings sector in the ESTAS awards, which are considered the Oscars of the industry.

Dan said: “It’s not bad for two lads from Tingley who used to climb over the fence to see each other and play out and walk together to school every day. I am not sure if you’d told us about this then we would have believed it could happen!”

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and NP11, said:  “We really applaud what NSI have done; spotting a gap in the market and going for it. That is true entrepreneurship and something we really want to encourage. 

“By innovating in their business, Andy and Dan are creating the prosperity and the jobs that we need for the local economy. Their success shows that with a good idea, hard work and practical support it is possible to build a thriving business even in these difficult times, and to support the economic recovery.” 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

Five Agency Trade Secrets for Building Brilliant Small Business Websites

Picture of the Other Things Agency

If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about building a website for your business. That’s a great start, because if you don’t have a website then you could be missing out on a ton of business that might not come your way otherwise.

Having a well-made website can help with the perception of your brand and help to build trust with your potential customers.

But where to begin? The team at my creative agency, Other Things, has built successful websites for some of the world’s biggest brands. We also work with start-ups that want a shortcut to website excellence.

When we did the brilliant AD:VENTURE Northern Max accelerator program last year, we met a lot of start-up founders who were looking for varying degrees of help with building their own websites. Should they make it themselves or get help from the professionals?

There’s no silver bullet to it, and every business is different, but there are a few bits of advice that apply to many if not most small business website builds.

I’m going to list some of them for you:

1) You CAN Build It Yourself

If you’ve got a social media profile and you know your way around the internet, you can build yourself a website. There are some well-established services out there (such as Wix, or Shopify if you’re looking for an online store) that will hold your hand through the process.

That said, it might be awful and do more harm than good for your brand. I mean, you could tailor yourself a cocktail dress if you really wanted to. Doesn’t mean it will be any good.

Still, if you stick to the pre-defined templates, have a decent eye for design and can string a meaningful sentence together then you should be able to create a simple website that meets your business’ needs.

2) You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out From Scratch

Take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. What are they doing on their websites? What are they doing badly, and what are they doing well?

What ideas can you draw inspiration from that would work with your website and brand?

That’s not to say that you should create a carbon copy of a competitor’s website, or plagiarise their copy and messaging, but you will likely identify some things that you think they do well and then you can put your own spin on them.

3) .co.uk Might Not Be the Way

If the .com domain name that you want is not available, but the .co.uk one is, it still might not be the best option.

People searching for your brand will probably find you either way, but you will inevitably and inadvertently be sending traffic to the .com version of the website domain. Not great, especially if it’s a competitor or a brand that could be mistaken for yours.

It’s still worth buying the .co.uk domain if it’s going cheap, and if you only ever plan to trade in the UK, but better to rack your brains for that .com domain name. Common ways around this are to add ‘we are’ or ‘this is’ in front of a brand name e.g. weareyourbrandname.com

We experienced this at Other Things, and we opted to go for otherthingsagency.com (we also grabbed otherthings.xyz to be what’s known as a ‘vanity URL’, but that’s another story…)

4) Cut to the Chase

When people visit your website, what action do you want them to take or what opinion of your brand do you want them to leave with? Make the fulfilment of these things the filter for all of your website-related decisions.

But don’t beat around the bush. Keep your choice of words and messages short and to the point. Challenge yourself to say what you need to say in as few words as possible, right up front on the home page, so that visitors know exactly what your business offers straight away.

This is your website content, and visitors to your site will form an impression of your brand based upon it.

It’s an area where professional help might be worth investing in if you’ve no experience in writing or producing content for the web. But if you want to DIY then keep it simple. Avoid using crappy Word art or DIY sketches. Stock photography can be great, but some of it is very cheesy. If you don’t think you can tell the difference then rope in someone who can.

And make sure you proofread it ad nauseum. If you’re not confident in that area, have somebody who knows how to properly use an apostrophe take a look at it.

5) Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Usability is essentially how well people can use your product to achieve their goal, and websites more often than not are built to a format that is familiar to the average visitor so that they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

At Other Things we love to see experimentation in this area, but if you’re looking to DIY build yourself a website for your business and you have little experience of doing such things then sticking to the ‘norms’ is your best bet. No need to reinvent the wheel. It will probably just confuse your visitors.

If you use a website building platform (such as Wix, Gator or Squarespace) there are templates and ‘themes’ that are put together with usability in mind. You won’t be winning awards for website innovation, but visitors to your site will have a better chance of navigating around your website nice and easily and developing a positive impression of your brand.

These platforms can also take care of some of the basic nuts and bolts stuff around hosting your website on the internet, and help you avoid pitfalls with potentially baffling things such as optimising it for mobile, SSL certificates, SEO and other acronyms.

So there you have it. The above is by no means comprehensive or universally true, but it might help set you on the right path if you’re considering how to build your small business website.

If you’re going DIY then keep things simple, utilise the templates and simplifying tools available to you and don’t go too left-field with your creative ideas. You’ll learn something and maybe even enjoy it.

And if it’s terrible, at least you tried. Give a good agency or freelancer a call and they’ll see you right.

Matt Hitchcock is the co-founder and Managing Director of Other Things, an alternative creative agency that specialises in producing disruptive advertising and marketing solutions for the gaming and entertainment industries.

www.otherthingsagency.com

Photo credit: Jodie Beardmore (www.jodiebeardmorephotography.co.uk)

AD:VENTURE sees demand up by nearly a third in 2020

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since it was started at the end of 2016. And this year the enquiries have been up by around 30 per cent. 

Programme manager Sarah Carling said: “We have seen an increase in demand for the programme since lockdown. 

“We have continued to deliver support throughout the year, adapting to deliver virtually where this was needed. Despite the pressures of an extremely challenging business climate, we have seen incredible resilience from the businesses we work with, and a real determination to keep moving and adapting in order to survive and grow. 

We found that one to one advice has been more important than ever, giving the business owners we support a much needed sounding board, but also helping with crucial issues like adapting their business models to cope with current challenges and accessing government funding.”  

This year AD:VENTURE, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has run 116 events, mainly online, to over 1300 delegates. Topics have included strategic marketing, building effective sales, pitching your business and podcasting.  

Since its launch AD:VENTURE has paid out  336 grants totalling just over £1.7m , including funds for purchasing vital equipment and refurbishing premisesThe programme also offers mentoring and support from experts and academics via masterclasses and one-to-one support. 

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

In 2020 the support has included ‘Northern Max 3’ which was launched in April in Bradford and helped  21 businesses with a mix of masterclasses and mentoring; Accelerate which was run by Leeds Beckett University and helped 40 new and young businesses; the ‘Survive and Thrive’ programme in Wakefield, which is supporting a variety of start-ups in developing and adapting their businesses to tackle Covid-19 challenges. New schemes are planned for 2021 including one for businesses in Kirklees. 

Sarah said: “Consultation with clients and ongoing feedback and engagement enables us to adapt our delivery to meet the needs of our start-ups as they change. 

“Heading into 2021 we know times are still tough for many businesses and we will still be here for ambitious entrepreneurs to help them on their journey. We know their success ultimately leads to the success of the city region.” 

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible; but businesses that have been supported come from a variety of sectors, including Agri-Tech, Fin-Tech, Med-Tech, health and wellbeing, digital, healthy food manufacturing and eco-construction.  

One of the businesses benefiting from the programme is Proper Oats, set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York. 

The ready-to-eat overnight oats are now stocked in various farm shops, on Amazon Fresh, and at Sourced Market at Skelton Lake Services motorway services near Leeds and at St Pancras Station in London 

Suzanne, who went on the Accelerate programme, said: “When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.” 

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

Leeds professional dancer goes back to class

A professional dancer who has performed in the Lion King on Broadway has gone back to class in Leeds after re-assessing her own life. 

Leonora Stapleton now runs Be Body Aware, which encourages people to use dance and exercise for their own well-being. The company, which is being supported by AD:VENTURE, a programme for new businesses in West and North Yorkshire, was started in 2019, but its roots go back much further. 

Leonora was a successful contemporary dancer in New York when the 9/11 disaster happened. The tragedy, and a mugging a few weeks later, left her feeling dazed, but it was several years before she realised the full impact. Then in 2017, just a short time after her mother died, Leonora was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. 

In January 2018 I decided to have a mastectomy and went through a massive sense of shame and loss. The reality struck deep in my soul,” said Leonora. 

I had to come to terms with all the layers of the deep wounds I had suppressed. In addition, I recognised the resilience I had developed. Even though my life had changed from 2001, most of the time I had remained optimistic, despite my trauma. 

The breast cancer treatment left Leonora facing feelings of shame about her body and led her to thinking about how we feel about our own bodies. This experience set the seeds for Be Body Aware, which she started in October last year. 

Leonora runs classes and workshops on body image, dance and fitness for wellbeing, and body shaming. She took her work into schools across Leeds and was targeting colleges, universities and businesses before lockdown struck. She is now running dance classes on Zoom, but looking forward to returning to face-to-face work and building up her client base. 

But she admits the idea may not have got off the drawing board if it was not for the support from AD:VENTURE, which helps new businesses and those under three years old. 

“I came to them with literally one page of an idea and I wanted to run with that idea. But they helped me realise it is marathon not a sprint and I needed to plan properly, starting with a business plan,” said Leonora, who has had support from an AD:VENTURE business mentor and has attended several workshops, on topics like marketing and pitching. 

And despite being an experienced dancer, choreographer, speaker and a qualified teacher, who has a Masters degree in leadership and management, Leonora admits her confidence had been at rock bottom when she started the company. 

The breast cancer had really hit my self-confidence, but AD:VENTURE helped me create the foundations for the business and gave me the belief to do it, she said. 

AD:VENTURE is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region which include the region’s nine local authorities. 

Sarah Carling AD:VENTURE programme manager,  said: Leonora’s story is an inspiration. It shows that with the right encouragement and advice entrepreneurs can find the strength and resilience to start and grow a successful business, even after difficult times.  

“We know that having the right support means businesses are more likely to survive and grow, which is why particularly now in the challenging times we are all living through the help, advice and support AD:VENTURE can offer are so important.” 

Leonora agrees. “Having a business adviser is like having a guide every step of the way. They are along for the ride! As an artist my brain goes everywhere, but having someone there helps me focus on what actions I need to take. 

“Sometimes in business you stumble. So, it’s great knowing someone is only a phone call away as you embark on your own adventure, she said. 

For more information about Be Body Aware go to https://bebodyaware.co.uk/ 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

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 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 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