Paul Lancaster, the Founder and Event Producer of the annual 5-day Newcastle Startup Week festival, is on a mission to make the North East of England the most entrepreneurial region in the UK. To do this, he wants us all to think of every week as a Startup Week, not just one week in May.
After attracting just over 800 delegates to his third Newcastle Startup Week festival in May 2019, Paul was aiming for 1,000 in May 2020, but then COVID happened! Even so, he still managed to deliver a successful 5-day Startup Week ONLINE event in May 2020 for just over 300 people and then another in September 2020 for just over 200 people. Both were run inside a new private Facebook Group.
Startup Week Community
He now runs the online Startup Week Community all-year-round as a place to share daily inspiration, tips and advice for anyone wanting to start or grow a business in the North East of England every Monday-Friday, provide informal networking and drop-in sessions on the first Monday and first Thursday of every month, and to run his Founders’ Friday events on the last Friday of every month, all inside the private Facebook Group.
Members of the Startup Week Community are encouraged to collaborate, support, promote & do business with each other & everyone who joins is offered a 1-2-1 business consultation with Paul via Zoom during which he learns what they need to take their business forward and offers practical, hands-on support both on the call and in the follow up which takes place afterwards.
Paul says “Although COVID had a massively negative impact on my business last year, it also forced me to innovate on an almost monthly basis and made it possible for me to provide a deeper level of support to new and established business owners all year-round.”
“Nothing compares to the buzz and excitement of our physical Newcastle Startup Week & Founders’ Friday events but the online Startup Week Community is a place where I can focus my efforts on the Members who join and provide a genuinely inclusive, supportive and collaborative space for new and established small business owners alike.”
“During the lockdown, the need for people to feel a sense of belonging and be part of a community of like-minded people has become even more important.”
5 Star Focus Programme
In addition to the online Startup Week Community which people can join any day of the year, Paul launched his new ‘5 Star Focus Programme’ for entrepreneurs, business leaders and freelancers in January 2021 as a way to provide an even deeper level of support over 5 days of 1-2-1 business coaching on the 2nd week of every month. He’s already done this with 5 business owners and is committed to doing it for up to 5 people (max) per month.
He said “Although I can always help new Members of the Startup Week Community in the initial welcome call / business consultation, follow up and then private Facebook Group, many of them need much more 1-2-1 support than that.”
“One of the best and worst things about being self-employed is you don’t have a boss telling you what to do. However, just like the edges of a canvas help an artist do a better painting, I’ve learned that self-employed business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives (including myself) still need structure and focus in order to achieve their goals.”
“Since December 2018, I’ve been using the same 5 themes of my Newcastle Startup Week festival to live a happier and more productive professional and personal life and so I’m now encouraging others to do the same so they can get the clarity and focus they need to achieve too.”
Although people need to pay to join the online Startup Week Community (it’s just £15 per month of £150 a year) and do the 5 Star Focus Programme (£500 per person for non-Members or £425 for Members), Paul also now publishes free weekly blogs on the Newcastle Startup Week website and almost weekly videos on the Newcastle Startup Week YouTube Channel for anyone that just wants to dip their toe in the water of self-employment, learn how to be more entrepreneurial, or start and grow a business in the North East of England.
Paul also co-founded a new business last year with Andrew Esson and Mark Renney called TRYBES which is a new data-driven signposting and matchmaking platform for startup communities that they aim to launch in late 2021. When ready, all Members of the Startup Week Community will be given priority access to the TRYBES platform but it will also be made available to anyone in the North East region, wider UK and internationally too.
Over the next 12 months, Paul is aiming to help 1,000 people start or grow their business in the North East (or at least learn how to be more entrepreneurial) so if you’re thinking of being your own boss, have recently started your own business or an established business looking to grow, join the Startup Week Community today!
Alternatively, if you’re a business, organisation or fund that would like to support our work through sponsoring / advertising with us or paying for some annual Memberships of the Startup Week Community that can be given away to some budding entrepreneurs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07734722716.
Want to start a business?
Read our in-depth ‘Want to start a business in Newcastle, Gateshead or the wider North East of England?‘ guide.