Launch22 was born in early 2014, the offspring of an unholy alliance between cousins David Hardman and Eddie Holmes. Having mentored dozens of young people through the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme, alongside running his own proptech businesses, Eddie felt that those same young people would benefit from a venue where they could develop their intellectual and social capital, at no cost, in the UK’s leading startup area, Tech City. Oh, and also have somewhere really cool to hang out with other entrepreneurs!
Following a stint volunteering in a Burmese school, David was encouraged to follow his dream of building a meaningful charity and Launchpad Labs (our original name!) came to life.
Supported by the generosity of some very lovely people (step forward, Viv, Craig, Anna, Harry and others) we secured a property in Shoreditch and opened for business in June 2014.
Providing free and affordable workspace, mentoring and regular events turned out to be much more of a logistical challenge than it might sound and, through necessity rather than design, we started our intern programme. This programme is open to unemployed people and, over the course of a three-month period, Launch22 provides a sandpit for people to learn about and practice entrepreneurship through helping us run the charity.
We’ve had so much help along the way from over 25 wonderful volunteers, without whom we simply could not function. It’s to our pride and their credit that almost all of those people are now in full time education or employment, including with some of the UK’s hottest startups.
Along the way, we were introduced by one of our members to Catch22, a national charity working with disadvantaged young people. With well-developed programmes in education and employment, but none in enterprise, it was a natural collaboration and, with the help of an investment from Catch22, LaunchPad Labs became Launch22 and used the money to open our second centre in Liverpool. We figured that if our model worked there, with some of the lowest rates of enterprise per capita and some of the highest rates of disadvantage, then it would work anywhere!
Today we have two operational self-sufficient incubators and are planning further expansion around the UK. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to get involved with us or simply chat about the kind of issues and people we work with. As a charity, we are proud to have an independent informed viewpoint on entrepreneurship and social enterprise.
Finally, all of this would be for nothing without the input of our members and we are proud to have worked with entrepreneurs and businesses from all walks of life and all sectors. We believe that entrepreneurship support should be available to the greatest number of people, regardless of whether their business ideas are designed to become global operations or local community focused social enterprises.
The Launch22 team