Founders’ Friday is a monthly networking and speaker event which connects founders with other entrepreneurs and stakeholders within the ecosystem. Sponsored by FreeAgent and Sintons Law, the August 2019 edition featured talks on new business support programmes, the upcoming Cyberfest festival, the power of purpose and values, content marketing, due diligence, and more. Check out our key take-aways here!
Part 1: Insights
#1 Safe environments are key to helping scaleups and startups build confidence – NELEP
To grow the North East business ecosystem and create better jobs, entrepreneurs need to think bigger, become more confident and take more risks. This was the topic of the first Founders’ Friday talk led by Dinah Jackson, programme manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP).
So how can we encourage existing and aspiring entrepreneurs to become more confident?
One theme in the talk was psychological safety. Entrepreneurs need to have access to psychologically safe environments where they feel confident to share their ideas and are encouraged to implement them. Business support programmes like the NELEP’s brand-new High Potential Startup programme and the Scaleup North East initiative can help facilitate these discussions, and monthly networking events focused on building supportive communities, like our Founders’ Friday, can help connect supportive founders too!
#2 Cyber Security presents both a global threat and opportunity – CyberFest & CyberNorth
‘If cyber was a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world’. In his talk, Phil Jackman emphasized the importance for businesses to manage cybersecurity which has become one of the biggest threats in the world. Not only is cybersecurity a significant threat for businesses but it also presents opportunities for new business creation and more and better jobs in the North East! CyberFest was set up to raise the profile of the North East as a great place to start a cyber security business. To celebrate this, the second edition of the month-long CyberFest 2019 is taking place in September 2019.
#3 We must be better at telling the story of the digital North East inclusively – Tech North East
The North East has a digital ecosystem that is worth shouting about. The ecosystem consists of a large number of stakeholders including meetup groups, community interest gatherings, startups, scaleups, media outlets and more. To share the story most efficiently, these different stakeholder views must be included in the narrative. That means that, to represent the region, we need to know who is out there.
Stuart Lynn, Founder at Tech North East, has started mapping and listing various key tech stakeholders on the Tech North East directory. If you have an interest or involvement within the sector, send your company name, logo and website address to the Tech North East team to be included.
#4 Barclays Eagle Labs & PNE Enterprise launched a new free business support programme – Barclays Eagle Labs
Andrew Dixon, Ecosystem Manager at Barclays Eagle Labs, introduced a new upcoming business support programme in partnership with PNE Enterprise which will be commencing early October. The programme provides entrepreneurs with free essential startup support in areas such as marketing research, pricing, legals and more. In addition, founders can make use of the (free) hotdesking space at Tuspark Newcastle Barclays Eagle Labs which introduces them to like-minded people and provides an extra layer of working flexibility.
Part 2: Startup Show & Tell
#5 The only way to really differentiate your business is through the people you employ – Reynolds HR & OD
Businesses grow and thrive with their employees. Successful businesses are fueled by creative ideas and a passion from the team to drive them forward. Alison Reynolds, Founder at Reynolds HR & OD, therefore said that the only way to differentiate your business is through the people you employ.
So how can you ensure you employ the right people? In her talk, Alison differentiated between two areas. On the one hand, founders need to ensure that they provide empowering environments. They need to provide jobs of high quality, in a psychologically safe and team-driven environment. On the other hand, founders need to focus on recruiting the right people. Alongside skills, founders should investigate work-culture fit and whether potential employees embed similar values. This can help reduce the risk of employing misfits.
#6 Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You – David Wilkinson Performance Coaching
Why are you running your business? What does this mean for you? How is your business aligning with your sense of fulfillment, your personal values and your beliefs? David Wilkinson, Founder at David Wilkinson Performance Coaching, shared his story of experiencing burn-out when working in business. In his talk on wellbeing and authenticity, he recommended founders to think of who they are and then use these insights to become authentic. Being authentic can help founders grow the confidence needed to feel more empowered to drive ideas forward and take action.
Part 3: Masterclasses
#9 Write your will to protect your personal assets, your business IP and more – Sintons Law
Writing a will is simple. You can even write it on an eggshell! So why do so many people not have one in place?
Michael Cattermole, Solicitor at Sintons Law, highlighted the importance of will-writing. Wills can help you ensure that your assets are dedicated to the right people (if there are no other overruling legal arrangements in place), can help you protect your intellectual property, and in some cases help save tax upon inheritance, for example through business property relief. Wills can be unofficially written but need to be legible.
For more tailored advice on writing wills, contact Sintons at one of their free drop-ins at Tuspark Newcastle Barclays Eagle Labs.
#10 Understand your customers and know what they’re worth – FreeAgent
Don’t advertise on Google if none of your potential customers are searching for you on Google.
In her talk, Ailsa Bates, Head of Awareness at FreeAgent, advised entrepreneurs to check if they understand their customers and their customer’s behaviour. What channels are customers using? What do customers want to know before they buy from you?
One key tip from Ailsa was to understand conversion rates (how often leads convert into customers). To work out these rates, entrepreneurs need to answer at least three questions:
1. How many potential customers (e.g. website visits) convert into paying customers? (%)
2. How many paying customers does your business need to become profitable?
3. So how many potential customer enquiries or visits does your business need to attract in order to reach the required number of paying customers?
Tools such as Google Analytics and other measurement systems can help businesses provide more accurate answers over time.
#11 How robust is your tech? – North IT Cyber Security
If your business operates a technological product or service, have you considered how robust this tech is? Ben Kenyon, Director of Business Development at North IT Cyber Security, advised entrepreneurs to assess what code is being used within core tech products to ensure the tech is secure and protected. For example, code could be including open-source snippets that may not be secure or may have issues with intellectual property.
In particular, when raising investment or scaling a product, it is important to understand the technological risks of the product and its value. Is the product reliant on other sources and copyright, or are you in control? If you are using external tech developers, ensure you have legal agreements in place that allocate intellectual property.
These were our key insights of the Founders’ Friday session in August 2019! Do you have any tips or insights of your own? Let us know by commenting below, mentioning us on Twitter, or posting on our Facebook timeline
Want to come to our next Founders’ Friday event?
Tickets for our monthly Founders’ Friday events are on sale now for just £5 (+ booking fee) here. (Alternatively, you can buy a 5-day ticket for our Newcastle Startup Week festival in May 2020 for just £150 (+ booking fee) which includes free entry to all our Founders’ Friday events here).