A view from the hatchery: Part 3

A view from the hatchery: Part 3

In our third blog from entrepreneurs in the EntrepreneurialSpark Hubs we hear more about the constructive challenge that a stint in the hatchery presents.

Blog Author Image
Sonny Charles
Founder of Tipple Box
2015
Blog Author Image
Will Ford
Founder of Düssel
Blog Author Image
Kerry Kimber
Founder of Knitting For All
Blog

12 May 2015

Entrepreneurs are constantly challenged in the EntrepreneurialSpark hatchery.

 

Fiona Gowing

Founder/Director, Bitzbags Ltd

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.



 

                                                                                                   Joanne Robinson

                                                                                                            Founder and CEO of the Little Art School

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I quietly opened my first Little Art School in a basement of an art gallery 18 months ago, teaching my structured drawing and painting course to a handful of children. By the time I arrived at Entrepreneurial Spark I had moved out of the basement and opened two schools. With a talented team of people I was developing a business to roll out across the UK. As a former military officer with no experience of the business world, I was living in a state of perpetual bewilderment. Enter Entrepreneurial Spark!

In the last six months Entrepreneurial Spark has been a source of support, practical help and an incredible education. The greatest lesson for me has been that to progress as an entrepreneur you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurs explore unmapped territory every day. Courage isn’t enough; you need a compass, a map and some company. That is what Entrepreneurial Spark has been for me.

My three words to describe Entrepreneurial Spark are: Challenger, Cheerleader and Teacher. My time at Entrepreneurial Spark has let me dare to dream big and then given me the push to #GoDo.



 

John Bellingham

Xebo

So far, our Entrepreneurial Spark journey has been brilliant. It has kept us laser-focused on what we need to do in our business.  Frank and Marianne (our Enablers) have helped us to identify the 'gaps' that we need to close, how to close those gaps, and most importantly provided accountability to ensure we deliver. 

Being an entrepreneur can be quite a lonely existence, but being in a ‘can-do’ environment (i.e. the Hatchery) with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air and only serves to inspire.

The road to entrepreneurial success is never an easy one, and you will of course experience some ‘knock-downs' along the way, however if you commit to always getting up, rather than giving up, then nothing can stop you achieving what you set out to do.

One of our biggest challenges has been trying to articulate exactly what our business offers, however under the mentorship of Entrepreneurial Spark, and after a few pivots, it’s now clear what we’re offering and to whom.  

Our business, ‘Xebo.co.uk’ (pronounced zee-bo), via our website and mobile App, provides consumers with easy access to local repairers, in times of a domestic product failure (e.g. when your TV or dishwasher breaks down).

We are focused on two activities currently; we are committed to building the largest and best-connected network of repair businesses in the UK; and we want to provide the easiest and most effective service for consumers to allow them to better manage their domestic products and warranties.

If I was to sum up Entrepreneurial Spark in three words, it would be; vibrant, positive, and inspirational.

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.

 

Fiona Gowing

Founder/Director, Bitzbags Ltd

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.



 

                                                                                                   Joanne Robinson

                                                                                                            Founder and CEO of the Little Art School

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I quietly opened my first Little Art School in a basement of an art gallery 18 months ago, teaching my structured drawing and painting course to a handful of children. By the time I arrived at Entrepreneurial Spark I had moved out of the basement and opened two schools. With a talented team of people I was developing a business to roll out across the UK. As a former military officer with no experience of the business world, I was living in a state of perpetual bewilderment. Enter Entrepreneurial Spark!

In the last six months Entrepreneurial Spark has been a source of support, practical help and an incredible education. The greatest lesson for me has been that to progress as an entrepreneur you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurs explore unmapped territory every day. Courage isn’t enough; you need a compass, a map and some company. That is what Entrepreneurial Spark has been for me.

My three words to describe Entrepreneurial Spark are: Challenger, Cheerleader and Teacher. My time at Entrepreneurial Spark has let me dare to dream big and then given me the push to #GoDo.



 

John Bellingham

Xebo

So far, our Entrepreneurial Spark journey has been brilliant. It has kept us laser-focused on what we need to do in our business.  Frank and Marianne (our Enablers) have helped us to identify the 'gaps' that we need to close, how to close those gaps, and most importantly provided accountability to ensure we deliver. 

Being an entrepreneur can be quite a lonely existence, but being in a ‘can-do’ environment (i.e. the Hatchery) with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air and only serves to inspire.

The road to entrepreneurial success is never an easy one, and you will of course experience some ‘knock-downs' along the way, however if you commit to always getting up, rather than giving up, then nothing can stop you achieving what you set out to do.

One of our biggest challenges has been trying to articulate exactly what our business offers, however under the mentorship of Entrepreneurial Spark, and after a few pivots, it’s now clear what we’re offering and to whom.  

Our business, ‘Xebo.co.uk’ (pronounced zee-bo), via our website and mobile App, provides consumers with easy access to local repairers, in times of a domestic product failure (e.g. when your TV or dishwasher breaks down).

We are focused on two activities currently; we are committed to building the largest and best-connected network of repair businesses in the UK; and we want to provide the easiest and most effective service for consumers to allow them to better manage their domestic products and warranties.

If I was to sum up Entrepreneurial Spark in three words, it would be; vibrant, positive, and inspirational.

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.

 

Fiona Gowing

Founder/Director, Bitzbags Ltd

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.



 

                                                                                                   Joanne Robinson

                                                                                                            Founder and CEO of the Little Art School

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I quietly opened my first Little Art School in a basement of an art gallery 18 months ago, teaching my structured drawing and painting course to a handful of children. By the time I arrived at Entrepreneurial Spark I had moved out of the basement and opened two schools. With a talented team of people I was developing a business to roll out across the UK. As a former military officer with no experience of the business world, I was living in a state of perpetual bewilderment. Enter Entrepreneurial Spark!

In the last six months Entrepreneurial Spark has been a source of support, practical help and an incredible education. The greatest lesson for me has been that to progress as an entrepreneur you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurs explore unmapped territory every day. Courage isn’t enough; you need a compass, a map and some company. That is what Entrepreneurial Spark has been for me.

My three words to describe Entrepreneurial Spark are: Challenger, Cheerleader and Teacher. My time at Entrepreneurial Spark has let me dare to dream big and then given me the push to #GoDo.



 

John Bellingham

Xebo

So far, our Entrepreneurial Spark journey has been brilliant. It has kept us laser-focused on what we need to do in our business.  Frank and Marianne (our Enablers) have helped us to identify the 'gaps' that we need to close, how to close those gaps, and most importantly provided accountability to ensure we deliver. 

Being an entrepreneur can be quite a lonely existence, but being in a ‘can-do’ environment (i.e. the Hatchery) with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air and only serves to inspire.

The road to entrepreneurial success is never an easy one, and you will of course experience some ‘knock-downs' along the way, however if you commit to always getting up, rather than giving up, then nothing can stop you achieving what you set out to do.

One of our biggest challenges has been trying to articulate exactly what our business offers, however under the mentorship of Entrepreneurial Spark, and after a few pivots, it’s now clear what we’re offering and to whom.  

Our business, ‘Xebo.co.uk’ (pronounced zee-bo), via our website and mobile App, provides consumers with easy access to local repairers, in times of a domestic product failure (e.g. when your TV or dishwasher breaks down).

We are focused on two activities currently; we are committed to building the largest and best-connected network of repair businesses in the UK; and we want to provide the easiest and most effective service for consumers to allow them to better manage their domestic products and warranties.

If I was to sum up Entrepreneurial Spark in three words, it would be; vibrant, positive, and inspirational.

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.

 

Fiona Gowing

Founder/Director, Bitzbags Ltd

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.



 

                                                                                                   Joanne Robinson

                                                                                                            Founder and CEO of the Little Art School

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I quietly opened my first Little Art School in a basement of an art gallery 18 months ago, teaching my structured drawing and painting course to a handful of children. By the time I arrived at Entrepreneurial Spark I had moved out of the basement and opened two schools. With a talented team of people I was developing a business to roll out across the UK. As a former military officer with no experience of the business world, I was living in a state of perpetual bewilderment. Enter Entrepreneurial Spark!

In the last six months Entrepreneurial Spark has been a source of support, practical help and an incredible education. The greatest lesson for me has been that to progress as an entrepreneur you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurs explore unmapped territory every day. Courage isn’t enough; you need a compass, a map and some company. That is what Entrepreneurial Spark has been for me.

My three words to describe Entrepreneurial Spark are: Challenger, Cheerleader and Teacher. My time at Entrepreneurial Spark has let me dare to dream big and then given me the push to #GoDo.



 

John Bellingham

Xebo

So far, our Entrepreneurial Spark journey has been brilliant. It has kept us laser-focused on what we need to do in our business.  Frank and Marianne (our Enablers) have helped us to identify the 'gaps' that we need to close, how to close those gaps, and most importantly provided accountability to ensure we deliver. 

Being an entrepreneur can be quite a lonely existence, but being in a ‘can-do’ environment (i.e. the Hatchery) with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air and only serves to inspire.

The road to entrepreneurial success is never an easy one, and you will of course experience some ‘knock-downs' along the way, however if you commit to always getting up, rather than giving up, then nothing can stop you achieving what you set out to do.

One of our biggest challenges has been trying to articulate exactly what our business offers, however under the mentorship of Entrepreneurial Spark, and after a few pivots, it’s now clear what we’re offering and to whom.  

Our business, ‘Xebo.co.uk’ (pronounced zee-bo), via our website and mobile App, provides consumers with easy access to local repairers, in times of a domestic product failure (e.g. when your TV or dishwasher breaks down).

We are focused on two activities currently; we are committed to building the largest and best-connected network of repair businesses in the UK; and we want to provide the easiest and most effective service for consumers to allow them to better manage their domestic products and warranties.

If I was to sum up Entrepreneurial Spark in three words, it would be; vibrant, positive, and inspirational.

I started the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with a new product concept and basic prototype.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark has been the catalyst that my business needed.  Working within the Hatchery has provided me with a place to focus ON my business, to develop and test my product and to network with like-minded people.  The support from the Enablement team has been truly invaluable.  Frank, the Ayrshire Enabler, has both challenged and supported me at each stage, as the product and business has developed, empowering me to make informed choices and learn about my style as a business leader. Trish, the RBS Financial Enabler, has made sure that I know my business finances inside out so I’m ready for anything!  Being in Entrepreneurial Spark takes hard work.  It is a bit like doing a university degree in Business Management, but instead of learning all the theory, you are working on a real life project - your own business!  Your learning in business is therefore alive!

Entrepreneurs can face challenges in the form of isolation, not knowing who to contact to get the right help, lack of start-up finance and often trying to do everything at once.  Being part of Entrepreneurial Spark opens up a network of like-minded people who help each other to learn and grow.  Entrepreneurial Spark also helps entrepreneurs take a strategic and realistic look at their business, and it helps businesses become aware of, and link in with, key people of influence such as RBS, local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.

 

Sonny Charles

Founder of Tipple Box

Your EntrepreneurialSpark experience should come with a warning label, ‘Not for the faint hearted’. They’ll push you, and pull you, and maybe make you cry, but they’ll also make you brilliant, if you let them. For the first three months of my EntrepreneurialSpark journey I was on the receiving end of this, working on an app idea that just wasn’t going to fly, so it was back to the drawing board!

Investigation of thriving business models and my background in bartending lead me to come up with the concept for www.TippleBox.co.uk. We send cocktails by post on a monthly basis.

With only a few months left to make the most of my time in EntrepreneurialSpark, I knew I had to move quickly to prove myself and secure a further six months of Hatchery support.

Over the two months that followed, I secured the suppliers I required and signed up for an alcohol festival in Inverness. I knew if I was going to have any shot, I’d have to prove that the most basic Tipple Boxes would sell. Over the weekend the most amazing thing happened, we sold 16 boxes! Sales solve everything.

Tipple Box launched in December 2014. We’ve now shipped almost 1000 boxes of cocktail ingredients, raised £10,000 in crowdfunding and been featured on Not On The High Street.

If you’re willing to put the hard work in, with EntrepreneurialSpark’s support, anything is possible.

Happy Tippling!

You can follow TippleBox at @TippleBoxUK



 

                                                                                                                     Will Ford

                                                                                                                                                           Founder of Düssel

Sitting in front of a ‘dummy’ board of directors is the last thing I imagined myself doing today. I’m at EntrepreneurialSpark waiting to go into a meeting with a senior marketing specialist and an RBS financier. They’re ready to pull my business apart, and it’s slightly terrifying.   

Three months ago, my business Düssel was plodding along very well selling a range of hand luggage for budget airline passengers. The bags are the maximum size you’re allowed to take on Ryanair and Easyjet and had already been a hit on Amazon - bringing in sales of over £100k in the previous 12 months.

But having decent sales wasn’t enough. To get my business investor-ready I’d have to learn to pitch my business, know my numbers inside out and have a clear marketing strategy. All quite daunting prospects.

Entrepreneurial Spark seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, providing weekly pitching practise, mentors and business support. And while most accelerators take a share of your business in exchange for their help, EntrepreneurialSpark is free, taking away much of the risk.

And that board meeting? I actually enjoyed it! I was given frank advice, ideas and encouragement. Something I’d never have had if I’d stayed outside the EntrepreneurialSpark network.



 

Kerry Kimber

Founder of Knitting For All

I started teaching people to knit several years ago. It was such a success that in 2012 I franchised my business, Knitting For All, and now I have 10 franchisees. We provide classes for all ages, including our award winning flagship programme ‘Kids Knit’ for children.

Knitting For All, although only established for a short while, was already doing well when I joined EntrepreneurialSpark. As a former art and design high school teacher my strengths lay in teaching, putting together curriculum guidelines and in designing attractive programmes and patterns.  My business skills on the other hand didn’t come naturally. Often I felt under informed and very isolated when it came to making the necessary decisions to make the business grow.

That’s why I applied to EntrepreneurialSpark. It provides a community of fellow entrepreneurs, expert mentors, lively workshops, events and debates. It encourages people to think out of the box and challenge themselves. Staying within one’s comfort zone is just not an option! Now, three months in, I know and understand my business better than I ever have. Perhaps more importantly I have identified my own strengths and weaknesses and clearly see how they affect my performance and the performance of Knitting For All.

With the help of EntrepreneurialSpark, Knitting For All is laying down all the right foundations for an exciting future of expansion.

You can follow Knitting For All here @KnittingForAll


 


 

2015

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