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 October 2019 edition featured talks on business opportunities in China, upcoming accelerators, PR for small businesses, business legals, and more. Check out our key take-aways here!
Part 1: Insights
#1 NatWest is providing accelerator opportunities in Newcastle
The NatWest accelerator is currently accepting applications for their next cohort, and you have until December to apply!
Melissa Beckett, Entrepreneur Acceleration Manager at NatWest, joined us on stage to inform entrepreneurs about opportunities with the NatWest accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes. Both programmes are available on a rolling basis so if the December date doesn’t work for you, keep an eye on their website for other upcoming opportunities.
All of the programmes are based on three key values: community, coaching, and networks. When starting a business, these values can be crucial in helping your business grow and access the support it needs.
#2 Access to trading with China is really just on your doorstep – Cocoon Global
China may seem miles away, but actually “what China needs, is what the UK has”. Man Li, Partner at Cocoon Global, gave the audience an insightful overview of opportunities for North East entrepreneurs to trade with China.
According to Man Li, China has taken an interest in actively exploring new technologies and opportunities for innovation. UK tech companies have an important role to play in helping China advance this journey. Cocoon Global, who specialise in brokering relations between China and the UK, aim to help entrepreneurs access these opportunities. They have now expanded to Tuspark Newcastle Barclays Eagle Labs and are advising entrepreneurs on how to trade with China. If you’re interested in trading with China, drop Man Li an email for more information.
#3 The best masterclasses are those that answer questions you actually have – Sintons Law
Do you have any legal questions about your startup? Sintons just offered to provide in-depth answers to popular topics through masterclasses at Founders’ Friday. Let them know what burning questions you have and you may see it covered at a session soon!
Part 2: Startup Show & Tell
#4 Quality networks lead to quality business growth – Growth Circles
Access to the right networks is fundamental to helping you grow your business. Carri Nicholson, Founder at Growth Circles, pitched her idea to connect like-minded entrepreneurs through a quality peer network. The network will provide a safe space for entrepreneurs to share their challenges and will be guided with structured problem-solving sessions and constructive learning. This is how Growth Circles differentiates from other groups. The importance of peer groups is based on the motto that “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Alongside peer support, Growth Circles provides 1-2-1 mentoring to help participants enhance their learning. For more information, check out their website and get in touch.
#5 There is such a thing as workshops for busy people – Stress Express
Have you ever found yourself attending a seemingly never-ending workshop that, really, could have been condensed into just an hour’s content? Gilliant Fortune, Founder of ‘Stress Express’ and Feel Good CIC, is on a mission to make workshops more productive and suitable for busy people.
Stress Express focuses on providing short, targeted stress relief workshops for people who are always on-the-go. The workshops will provide stress-busting techniques that can be applied to busy lifestyles. The techniques will help entrepreneurs become happier and more productive.
For more information about the Stress Express workshops, visit the Feel Good CIC website or contact Gillian.
#6 Does public speaking make you nervous? Try stepping into your alter ego – Brand Activators
No matter how good your business idea is, talking about it in front of an audience can make anyone nervous. Hilary Dunne, Managing Director at speaker agency The Brand Activators, shared tips with the audience on how to manage nerves when engaging in public speaking.
Her advice? Step into your alter ego. Whether that means wearing something different or shifting your thoughts pattern, adopting an alternate persona can help you gain the courage you need to speak confidently on stage.
For more information about public speaking, contact Hilary via the Brand Activators website.
Part 3: Masterclasses
#9 Place matters when it comes to growing your business – Cintel Global
Like many other new businesses, creative and digital startup Cintel Global started from the spare bedroom of one of their co-founders. While this worked well at the beginning, Cintel’s growth journey arguably only really kicked off when they secured an office at PROTO, The Centre for Emerging Technologies.
Tom Scarborough, Co-Founder at Cintel Global, shared their growth journey with us at Founders’ Friday. By moving into PROTO, Cintel were able to access a collaborative, expert network as well as trial the latest technologies. These resources gave Cintel a competitive advantage and an opportunity to impress businesses internationally.
Of course, spaces like PROTO may not be suitable to all startups. As a media production organisation, access to emerging technologies helped Cintel expand in meaningful ways. Tom’s talk therefore taught us the importance of place and how finding the right place can help your business grow.
#10 Take time developing shareholder agreements and protect your business from potential insolvency – Sintons Law
Developing thorough shareholder agreements is probably not on the top of your startup’s to-do list. However, as Jonathan Tutu (Corporate Solicitor at Sintons Law) outlined at our Founders’ Friday event, without the right agreements in place your business makes itself vulnerable to deadlock.
Deadlock is a legal situation in which two founders, who each enjoy a 50/50 share, find themselves in disagreement about how to continue the business. Neither of them are able to outvote the other, which means that unless the shareholders can find a way to agree, they’re stuck. This can lead to expensive legal proceedings or even business insolvency.
With the right shareholder agreements in place, these situations can be avoided. For example, contracts could include ‘preferential voting rights’ or other clauses. For more information and advice, contact Sintons.
#11 Getting into the press: You may think your story is exciting, but do journalists? – FreeAgent
One of the key challenges as a business is to get your word out to potential customers and to increase awareness of what you do. Press coverage can be a useful tool to help you reach more potential customers.
However, as excited as you may be about your own idea, journalists may not be as easy to persuade. Journalists are approached by enthusiastic entrepreneurs every single day. So how do you make them care?
Start by asking yourself the question why journalists should care in the first place, advises Adrian Mather (PR and Media Manager, FreeAgent). Journalists are looking for stories that provide value to their specific readers. This means that you will need to do some research into their readership and style of writing. If you can clearly explain why your story suits that paper and their readers, your chances of getting coverage will be increased.
These were our key insights of the Founders’ Friday session in October 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).