June 28th held a great event as I was part of the launch of something with a select core of Start up Locals braving the conditions to make it all the way to the centre of the UK in the thunderous rain and lightening to come up with some bright ideas to help an already thriving organisation achieve even more this year. This was the start of StartUpLocal something I am proud to be part of for South Manchester.
Our aim is simple – it is to help more entrepreneurs in the UK set up in business. As 50% of people want to – but only around 5% actually do…! And unlike other organisations StartUpBritain is the only independent and privately funded campaigning organisation, supported by the Prime Minister, to inspire and help people to/who start a business.
But the thing about entrepreneurism is that even though some think it can be taught and others think that it is innate – for nation-wide organisations even with some great sponsors like Dell and Paypal, the actual amount you can really do, that you can really change, is open to question.
There are some great stats out there which Emma Jones, back in as the creative head of the project showed us. And there is some wonderful warm feelings around the space about doing good for the society and linking together public and private funding to do so (something I did many moons ago when we started Spearfish.) Oli Barrett, an unbelievable charming man who was called the most connected man in Britain (by Wired Magazine) he is leading this charge with this and doing wonders.
But…and this is just my opinion, the idea has issues to be massively successful.
One problem is a simple one. Resources. Not only the limited amount of time resource that each local champion has for each area but also the lack of funding for marketing the areas ideas as well.
You only have three things in life, money, time and passion.
StartupBritain and the local champions have two of them. Thanks to the passion of people like Emma etc who have persuaded through passion and hard work the likes of Axa and Intuit to come on board the idea with a little money. Heck, it was the passion of the other founders Raj Dev and Birmingham champion Joel Graham-Blake that got me excited and willing to give my time.
But what else can be done? StartupBritain is itself a startup. A non for profit project 15 months old (and I was there cheerleading it from the start) with an extremely qualified board. And a young and excited London centric team to make it all happen. And like many start-ups – it doesn’t lack vision, it doesn’t lack commitment, it has a great website, it even has great partners. It should all be fantastic brand – and it is.
The great media campaign (Business in You) they created had 9 different case studies on there. Which was amazingly diverse – and showed that all sorts of people could and should start a business.
And perhaps it is just me, but this is where I feel we might have a problem. A classic start up problem. In trying to be everything to everyone, a signposting service, a mentoring scheme, a motivational tool and hub for all start-ups with founders, of all ages, in all sectors, all over the country is (just like this sentence) too big, too much.
What StartupBritain does do right is it doesn’t waste the government’s money (it doesn’t get any), it isn’t controlled by old public sector civil servants (yet), it hasn’t been over run by ex chamber of commerce or even worse ex Business Link advisers (thank god) which is great news and rare in the start up help space.
It also have some great new ideas and is open to new technology, it is disruptive (in it’s market place) and has some major backing with some great wins so far and a plan to use Start Up Champions like myself to decentralise its power base and affect on the ground the world of entrepreneurship in the UK.
More recently they have announced serial-entrepreneur Luke Johnson as the campaign chairman and launched StartUp Spaces, a platform for start-ups and growing businesses to find start-up friendly space providers in their local area. So watch this space… for more innovations.
Perhaps it is up to us StartUpLocal champions to grab hold of different opportunities for our region and bring people towards us to create this niche?
I have a few ideas and a couple of answers and hopefully we can get the NW (and the whole of the UK with it) on a mobile marketing tip revolution and take the rest of the world by storm 😉
Who’s with me 🙂