Make mentors your secret weapon
This Saturday is National Mentoring Day. Research has shown that 70 per cent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive twice as long as non-mentored entrepreneurs. To mark the occasion Tech Manchester helped 25 new start-ups embark on their business journey with newly trained mentors. Executive director Patricia Keating reports.
Did you know only a quarter of SMEs use a mentor despite the fact that two thirds of businesses with one reported a productivity boost?
It's one of the reasons why Tech Manchester - which is funded by British hosting firm UKFast - is so committed to boosting mentoring.
Tech Manchester has helped hundreds of tech-focused businesses by providing intensive educational workshops, a structured mentoring programme, PR and communications support and a media centre and workspace incubator at UKFast Campus.
Two mentor training workshops in September, saw the total number of business leaders now trained top 120 mentors, supporting 114 start-ups through mentoring alone.
We are really inspired by the diverse experience and specialisms of the business leaders stepping into the mentor roles. But what is exciting is how this is mirrored by the diverse range of ideas and backgrounds of the start-ups as well as the stage of development they are at.
It was exciting to see some have launched a prototype such as Dr Arvin Rodrigues and Norbert Henriques, co-founders of Regenta Healthcare, a second opinion service created to give patients confidence in their diagnosis best possible treatments. Or Carly Worthy, founder of Poochd, an online platform which connects and collaborates pet industry leaders and experts with all things doggy.
The latest intake of start-ups has also seen the needle move in the gender parity of the start-ups where almost 40 per cent of the businesses are female-founded.
A credit to the programme was the arrival of Jason Jenkins, founder of Snappy Surfer, who travelled from Devon to Manchester for the two days to become part of the programme.
Jenkins explained why he made the trip: "I've followed Lawrence Jones on social media for a couple years. Having made some mistakes with my venture snappysurfer.com in the past, I found that in the posts Lawrence wrote they were genuine and sincere. Web development is a minefield where I had been taken advantage of in the past. I was left with the constant feeling of regret for not pursuing further with Snappy Surfer and the frustration of knowing it wasn't the concept but the infrastructure that was the issue.
"I messaged Lawrence with my dilemma as he was the highest profile person in the areas of my weaknesses. I didn't expect a reply, but he did very quickly, and pointed me towards Tech Manchester. It didn’t matter to me about the location, the important part for me was that I trusted the programme and I trusted the company.
"I came to Manchester because instead of going down the relatively clear road alone, I wanted to bounce specific ideas with someone to be able to go down the road with confidence, not to have someone to hold my hand, but to have someone with knowledge and credentials to critique my thinking, and add new lines of direction and guidance. This is why I wanted a mentor.
"The experience over the two days was incredibly informative and confirmed for me that this is what I want to be doing. It was great to be in a room full of similar like-minded people. It’s a beautiful thing to be around entrepreneurs, and Manchester as a first time visit, was an incredibly vibrant entrepreneurial place with so much innovation everywhere you look."
Because we're being privately funded by UKFast we can support a tech company that isn't from Manchester because we don’t have to follow any prescriptive strict rules around funding.
When Jason first registered back in February and has pursued us to be part of the programme through his commitment to come to Manchester, his passion for his business really came across, it is our role to support and encourage that passion in first time entrepreneurs not put obstacles in their way.
The organisation has now expanded its resources and support through suite of broadcast workshops on Tech Manchester TV and launched the #FastForward Podcast on iTunes, a series dedicated to addressing the business challenges that keep entrepreneurs awake at night.