Whether you’ve worked in a startup before or even if you only know someone who’s recently set up their own, you’ll know the first round of funding is the most crucial.
No matter the amount, initial investment is what allows a concept to develop into something tangible: it serves as validation by showing the idea is deemed worthy of investment and can certainly be an invaluable confidence booster, in a landscape often governed by excitement and uncertainty.
Here at Launch22 we provide some of the tools needed for startups to get off the ground and launch themselves into the entrepreneurial world. We offer work space and facilities to countless budding entrepreneurs and have helped entrepreneurs from all backgrounds through our charitable initiatives, such as our scholarship programme. But who helps the helpers?
We’re no different from other new businesses, we don’t run on smiles and warm feelings (though they certainly improve our quality of life!). When our founder Eddie Holmes set out to develop a space devoid of the exclusivity and narrow-mindedness of traditional
offices, he asked himself an important question: how can I make this happen?
The answer came from Startup Loans (SL), a government (and privately) backed organisation which provides startups with loans as small as £500 going all the way up to £25.000. It has recently reached its 50.000th loan milestone and is the force behind the success of startups like Cornerstone and…well, us!
You can imagine that when our founder was appointed as a SL brand ambassador, and we were told the event was going to be held in our very own office, we couldn’t help but feel things had come full circle. The two forces which had breathed the life into Launch22 were coming together once more.
The day began early, with Tom, our operations manager, and Eddie heading off to meet the cameras for a quick photo and video shoot, where he spoke a little about creating the first charitable business incubator, as well as getting a good dose of makeup on his face.
After the compulsory media package, it was time to do some old fashioned, face-2-face networking and speaking in Launch22. A steady stream of food and drinks, all from the many SL funded businesses, had been trickling in since the morning: award-winning cheeses, jams and spreads, craft beers, delicious cupcakes…you name it. But course, none of these eat or drink themselves and we certainly couldn’t tackle them all by ourselves…could we?
The good people at Citypress were the first to show up, making sure the scene was set for the event to come and that all of the (wonderful) products on display were easily recognisable as the fruits of collaboration between the parent companies and SLCo. A plethora of entrepreneurs and local community representatives found their way to our space shortly after, but the highlight of the day was of course the ambassador launch. Along with our very own Eddie Holmes, SL had put together quite the team: Razan Alsous, from Yorkshire Dama Cheese; Kevin Bath, from JimJams spreads; Ren Kapur, from X-Forces; Mechelle Clark from Melt Aberdeen, Brett Creed & Perry Coppen, from CrunchPoster Ltd Christopher Evans from Waterfall Ways and Keith Morgan, from the British Business Bank (recently merged with Startup Loans Company).
After some of the aforementioned mingling it was time to get into the serious business. Eddie produced a most heartfelt speech, expressing his gratitude towards SL for believing in the value of private enterprise and recognising the importance of Launch22’s work, after which the scene was set for our ambassador panel.
Razan, Kevin, Ren and Keith all took to the stage to discuss their background, personal experiences in the startup world and how their collaboration with the SL allowed them to reach the positions their businesses now occupy.
If there was only one think to take away from this it would certainly be the significance of collaboration. In fact, none of the products available at the event, not even the physical space hosting it, would exist without it; but for us collaboration doesn’t only mean two people starting a business: it’s also about creating a network of like-minded people around you, which you can turn to for advice or simply share your successes (or failures) with. Taking stock of opinions from people you can trust is what might get you through a rough patch and the support network put in place by organisations such as SL through its mentoring and funding is an invaluable asset to the UK startup community. Here’s to yet another success story!