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Entering The StartUp Croydon Dragon’s Den

It may sound like a mash up of the iconic 70s martial arts film and the cult BBC entrepreneur’s investment programmes of recent years, however, for the participants on StartUp Croydon’s Building Business Horizons programme, it was nothing like the grilling and nail-biting experience.

The final activity that participants undertook on our pilot six month incubator programme was to pitch their business idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and business support experts for the opportunity to get feedback on their business plans.  It was also an opportunity to be awarded with initial seed-funding to help with essential start-up costs including marketing, training and business registration costs.

The entrepreneurs, including those with a purpose driven business, have been on an intensive journey exploring who their customers are and what value they offer them, finances and budgets, social media as well as how to develop a minimum viable product and how to pitch and sell that to customers.

Business propositions ranged from providing a fundraising and bid-writing service, provision of Spanish lessons to young children through movement to mindfulness, NLP coaching services, a quality management consultancy and an artisan baking business offering ‘free-from’ breads for people with allergies, intolerances or those who want to improve their diet with healthy offerings.

It is easy to explain what we do ourselves but more realistic and pertinent when heard from the experience of someone who has been there and done it.

“The support came in many different ways, for example my mentors are very professional and experienced in the work they do, they are realistic and yet have that side in them when they “feel the success before they see it” and this particular mindset made a great difference with me to have more confidence.

The subjects they taught were very relevant and each area was in the heart of the journey, from someone who was always hesitant with numbers, to become somebody who applied for a fund, was awarded the fund and obtained the ability to work out the financial side of the story, I owe this ability to the program and to my mentors.

The programs were also supporting by directing me to important business events, introducing me to other organisations that we share similar ethos with and get on more programs.

From a mother who had no money and was broken, to become an entrepreneur who runs workshops in schools, prisons and get invited to deliver keynote speeches for other organisations and having more projects happening in the new year, I would say that the success I have had so far in my  journey is owed to StartUp Croydon and the SEEK and BBH programmes.”

The End of The Beginning

It may be the end of the formal stage of the programme but we know that we are building a supportive network of local entrepreneurs.  If you would like to join this growing network and be part of the next Building Business Horizons programme, you can find out more details here.

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