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Start-ups gain valuable business advice

Entrepreneurs have been given invaluable advice and an opportunity to make business connections at a unique event held at the new Weatherill House Business Centre.

Hosts Croydon Business Venture teamed up with Bright Ideas Trust to host Start Up Croydon, which featured a series of business workshops and networking opportunities during the day.

The event also provided the 70 people who took advantage of the innovative event with the opportunity to see the new state-of-the-art facilities at Weatherill House, just off the Purley Way, which provides an ideal first home for new businesses.

David Robinson, chairman of Croydon Business Venture, said: “The event went brilliantly, there was a real buzz about the place. “It is about promoting Weatherill House and also about promoting the work that we do in helping individuals start their own businesses through training courses, mentoring, one-to-ones and much more.

“The great thing at the moment is that the economy is picking up and people are out there doing business and investing business.

“It’s a very brave thing to go and start your own business and people can be very uncertain about moving forward but I think there’s an air of confidence out there.”

Budding entrepreneurs got the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an advice/investor panel hosted by Bright Ideas Trust, a business start-up charity working with people who want to start a business. They assess and deliver loans under the government’s Start Up Loans scheme, at low interest and with free mentoring from expert entrepreneurs.

Stephen Donovan, business manager of Bright Ideas Trust, said: “A lot of people have their hobbies that they want to turn into businesses. Some of them have gone a really long way while others have a germ of an idea. “I spoke to a guy earlier who has set up a runners’ website and he is really advanced with it and it sounds a really strong proposition. What we get is very diverse and that’s the beauty of this.”

Lisa Gagliani, chief executive of Bright Ideas Trust added: “People are coming with things that they are really passionate about to see if they can turn it into a commercially viable business.

“We’re looking for those ideas which with a little bit of investment could make the difference between them making £50 a week pin money and something that could feed a family.

“Our heritage is with young people but we’re trying to reach out to anybody in the community that needs to feed their family and keep a roof over their head and can do it through their own enterprise.

“The Start Up Loans scheme is brilliant and last year we brokered loans that amounted to more than half a million pounds to more than 80 people. Some of those are turning over in excess of £100,000 a year and employing other young people so I think that’s a really worthwhile thing to do.”

There were also a series of talks and advice sessions and attendees were able to hear from Jade Fletcher, owner of Jade Green events, who has been in business for a year and is based out of Weatherill House after being one of the winners of the RBS Inspiring Women in Business programme.

Jade said: “There was a great atmosphere about the event and I found it really exciting. At lunch I spoke about the reality of starting a business, my experiences of the last 12 months, and how I’ve gone from being a freelance individual to being in business and all of the different steps which Croydon Business Venture, RBS and my mentor have helped with.”

Attendees also took part in speed networking sessions – similar to those held at the Big Breakfast events hosted by Ikea – as well as enjoying a networking lunch. Ikea Business also sponsored a £250 prize draw. For more details visit www.thebigbreakfast.org.uk

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