“Find out what you’re good at and stick to it, even when there’s nothing left”…Samson Daramola, talks to us about how he set up Stay Focus Management and the trick to creating sell out major events.

We caught up with Samson Daramola of Stay Focus Management to hear all all about how he went from a start up music events company to sell out venue events and on to launching his own talent management company, and he’s still only 24!

Samson started out in 2011 with his first venture PSEVENTSZ as an events company catering to young individuals from the ages of 18-32 with a focus on Urban Music. Having done 5 major events which sold out major venues with over 5000 capacity the focus was then to grow a secondary business focused on new artist management. Seeing the potential to diversify through organising sell out events galvanising all the right people in industry to come together to create not just a brilliant event but also hub of activity of connections and networks Samson decided to create  STAY FOCUS MANAGEMENT to help upcoming artists get the exposure and support they need to gain the right industry contacts and support. Stay Focus management helps up and coming artists with everything from studio sessions, music videos, interviews, to eventually landing them with a record label working with some of the biggest label in industry such as Sony and Universal. The aim is to “to make the artist feel as comfortable as possible by always encouraging them to make music, supplying them with song writers if they are struggling and constantly giving them the advice they need to flourish.”  @PSEVENTSZ

Find links to some of the artists Stay Focus Management has helped get record labels are below;

 

What was your inspiration for setting up for the business and how long did it take? 

Music has always been a big part of my life, growing up I was learnt to play the drums, piano and guitar… this fostered my on going interest in emerging artists on the Urban music scene and wanting to curate experiences for others to enjoy. My older sister Maria Daramola  introduced me to the event life which opened up a whole new insight into the industry – I just thought, if others can do it why not take the plunge and do it myself! I had studied Business Management at Middlesex University so from a theoretical point of view I felt pretty equipped, it became a case of then learning through the process like many entrepreneurs. It took me 2 years to officially set up my business as there were a variety of legal requirements to get in place from obtaining licenses and permits to applying for trademark protection…having a business that is centred around my passion was definitely the central driver in getting through this long process!

What do you think are the secrets to success for being a successful entrepreneur and who is your inspiration? 

One of the main keys to being a successful entrepreneur is to discover what you’re actually good at and stick to it even when there is nothing left because most entrepreneurs tend to go bankrupt during their careers but only the most successful business owners break through their barriers and rise from that situation. Two successful entrepreneurs who inspire me are Richard Branson and Simon Cowell as they both either went broke or almost became bankrupt at some point in their life and both of these men found solutions to their situation which has now made them two of the richest men in the world.

So why the Startup Kitchen and how did it help? 

I first heard about the SUK in 2014 through a charity in Hackney Skyway who thought it would be a good time to hear advice from entrepreneurs and get tips from on how I can evolve my business and I’ve been back every year since. For me it was about gaining some specific advice around my strategy with venues but also about my plans to grow the business more broadly. The Startup kitchen was crucial for me at this point as it helped me focus on my main goal at this time and be relentless about achieving it before I move on to another one…where I had been weighing up some decisions it helped give me clarity and not divert my attentions in the wrong direction, ultimately it de-risked my business at that point. Whenever I attend a session I feel confident from the advice in taking the right route forward and its great that you can return back at the right time for you year on year.

What have been your challenges setting up your business and how have you overcome them? 

My most challenging moment in my career was when I first started my business, it was very tricky as I didn’t have the funds I needed in the early days meaning I had to take a risk with my early events. The success of my first event however gave me the fuel I needed to push forward and gave me formula by which to work by – 3000 people attended my event and I made a made a big return on my investment. It gave me the confidence to move forward. There have definitely been times especially in the early days where I’ve thought can I pull this off but realised the trick is ensuring the right planning, scheduling and having the right team of people to pull in at the events…when it all comes together and I can see the events not just packed but know everyone is getting great value for money that fuels me to keep on going to the next bigger event!

Advertisements

Evolution of Man Fitness – you don’t realise how good the advice is until you get it!

Tim image .png
Tim Walker, founder of Evolution of Man Fitness has a specific philosophy about getting fit – Eat, Sleep and train like a warrior! Driven by this philosophy since leaving university in 2003 with a sport and exercise degree Tim has continually honed his training methods specifically targeting men who main aim is to get a lean athletic body whilst living and working in the city. So how does it work you are probably wondering?! Tim and his team take on 24 new warriors every year for one to one personal training and over just 12 weeks they will transform their bodies from zero to hero on the warrior workout program often adding over a stone of muscle whilst dropping the same in fat and gaining levels of strength they could never have dreamed of.
At Evolution of Man there is no treadmill, or comfortable looking workout machines, no pec decks or regular cycling machines – this personal training program has nothing whatsoever to do with obeying convention. What you will find is a sprint track armed with Prowler (think rugby scrum machine), a sled to drag, strongman bars, beer kegs to life, tractor tyres to drag, sand bags to lift and sledge hammers to wield. Thats the secret to success – “Great male physiques are made through consistency, clean eating, and exercising that challenges every part of the body in a way that demands that you gain muscle and strip away fat.”
 So Tim has it all sussed out but its been a rollercoaster over the years to get to this point! Tim started out his career working for Virgin Active and other major gyms before taking the plunge and set up his own gym in 2008. Confident in his own philosophy of training, Tim was ready to open the doors on a new kind of exercising. Unfortunately, the first day of the gym opening was the day Lehman Brothers collapsed so the timing was completely wrong and and as  result the gym ended up closing soon after. Tim had to go back to his old employers and seek the day job again, the whole time being careful to protect and build his own client base again. Speaking to us now, Tim said he wished at the time he ‘d had the advice of the Startup Kitchen entrepreneurs at that time. “You don’t realise how good the advice is until you get it – having learned some tough lessons through the years, having successful entrepreneurs give you solid advice and being able to talk through the plans so openly at pivotal times is crucial, especially if you have a major business decision you need to work through – thats why I keep coming back to the Startup Kitchen every year.”
Tim first came to the SUK in 2014 to one of our very  first sessions, by then he had learnt key lessons, rebuilt his business and at a point where he he was able to test his ideas and get the sounding board he needed. He was again looking for a property for his gym, and had one in mind – this time he got the advice her needed and was the right stage to expand the Evolution of Man group. In March this year, Tim took on his new premises for Evolve Fitness Gym in Farringdon – perfect for his main clientele who live in and work in the area.
Business is going from strength to strength and Tim is soon expanding the team to 7 as well as leasing space to other trainers for their own clients. Time to check out the sprint deck and the prowler!
eomfitness.com

London girl with Rio Spirit (LoRIOca) Emma Symes talks us through her fascinating Pomba Girls journey, from Peckham, Rio, Brazil and back again…

 

By Emma Symes

This story about how I came to set up the Pomba Girls is one shaped by my desire to follow an unconventional career route, which is often the case for entrepreneurs as we are a headstrong breed determined to do things our way!

The Pomba Girls would not have happened without the past ten years I have spent splitting my life between London and Rio de Janeiro training as a performer and working as an event producer. What began a mere infatuation with Rio after I spent the carnival there age 18, turned into major obsession following 6 months living there age 22, during which time I was swept up by a Carnival inspired street theatre troupe called Tá Na Rua.

When I returned to London I was determined to set up my own performance company inspired by street culture, so being based in South East London – I established Tá Na Deptford.  Although as it happened we only did one street performance in Deptford the identity of the group drew heavily on Deptford’s street culture, I sourced all our costumes from its markets and used them to create carnivalesque performances for club-nights, music festivals and experimental performance happenings. Although the group succeeded in generating quite a following and a full page spread in i-D magazine, running the activities bankrupted me, and I was forced to move out of my own flat and couch surf for 6 months in order to sustain rent for our studio. My friends tried to persuade me to look at ways to generate revenue using the group but I felt any such activity would compromise my artistic freedom so instead I stopped running it, sold our entire costume collection and managed to make enough cash to go back to Rio.

This time around I sought help the other side and was awarded a performer training scholarship with Tá Na Rua for one whole year. The training was very physically demanding with rehearsals involving three hours of improvised dancing to music played by a DJ either in our rehearsal space or on the streets of downtown Lapa. I became so consumed by the physical nature of what I was doing that I failed to see the inevitable come down once my visa expired- forcing me back to London with an account balance of £0, no home and no job.

I spent a year trying to apply for arts grants and develop ambitious cultural exchange projects with Brazil in the hope that all my experiences counted for something within the arts world. When nothing proved successful and I was still working as a part-time nanny and a waitress I began to feel on the point of despair. Luckily a work opportunity arose itself back in Brazil translating a book on the rituals of Brazilian religion Umbanda. I took it – got back on a flight to Rio and spend 3 months immersing myself in the world of festival rituals whilst working on the translation. It was during this time that I encountered the “Pomba Gira” a powerful female spirit found within Umbanda- she personifies female transgression, liberation and a love of partying. This time when I got on a flight back to London I was re-energized by Pomba Gira spirit and determined to find a way to “Unleash” it on the London party scene.

To do just that I united a team of London based performers, musicians and event producers to host our own version of the Pomba Gira “ritual” in a local pub – we called it the “Pomba Girl Party” . And so the first ever group of Pomba Girls was initiated. Once videos and photos of our party went viral we began to draw attention beyond our own circuit and out of the blew we were asked by content agency VCCP Kin to assist them in hosting a Carnival themed staff party. The experience of working in a corporate environment was something neither I nor the other Pomba Girls anticipated to be so rewarding – we were well paid, treated like royalty and best of all- able to perform for an audience who genuinely loved what we did and happily involved themselves in the action!

I decided it was time to “get down to business” and work out how I could generate revenue  via the Pomba Girls by tapping into the events industry. I signed up for the Princes Trust Enterprise program who helped develop my business model and officially launch the Pomba Girls in Sept 2015 and continuously given me mentoring support. The past 12 months has been a whirlwind operation. My crew of Pomba Girls have now hosted parties  in pubs, clubs, music festivals, Royal Palaces and even on board our very own “Pirate Ship!”

To enable us to do all the fun stuff, I have needed to channel my energy in securing investment, building partnerships, closing sales, liaising with clients and dealing with the day to day running of a business. It is this personal journey I have undertaken as an entrepreneur that has been the hardest part – and whilst it has enabled me to keep doing things my way there have been many bleak moments wherein I have felt deeply frustrated and isolated; times when everything that has been achieved seems to amount to nothing because it is so drastically far off from where I want it to be.

It is combating these “lows” – that I imagine are the breaking points for many entrepreneurs that StartUp Kitchen has been a real lifeline. Not only have their ever positive high-energy team been on hand to provide encouragement but more importantly they have been able to supply practical solutions to help me drive my business forward. With everything from hot seat mentoring sessions with industry experts around their “kitchen table” to chances to partake in free workshops in areas such as the all essential financial management. Alongside the activities hosted at Albion HQ – their team has generously devoted time to reaching out to their extensive network of business contacts that can open the kind of doors that needed to take my business to the next level.

The more I continue to grow as an entrepreneur nourished by the support of platforms like Startup Kitchen the more opportunities beckon for the future. We are living in an exciting moment right now – as our world becomes ever more digital and therefore ever more global, business are under pressure to connect with different cultures and think creatively. Since setting up the Pomba Girls I have been amazed by the rise in experimental marketing campaigns and “customer experiences” created by brands which can offer major opportunities for us as culturally engaged performers via business collaborations. This is not only in the events sector- which is becoming ever more elaborate, theatrical and interactive but also via marketing stunts shared across social media which can turn our city landscape into a playground for live performance. Having devoted so much of my life performing on the streets of Rio – seeing these kind of stunts quite literally sets my heart racing and I cannot wait to create something spectacular on the streets of London one day!

With such opportunities for my own creative fulfillment opening up within the world of business I no longer have the fear of compromising my vision by thinking commercially  – which is the frank answer I give to those who question me on my right to “sell” the Pomba Girls to the corporate sector. And I still believe wholeheartedly that the Pomba Girls centers around our pursuit for female empowerment. Certainly for me, learning how to conquer a world where “cash is king” (as spoken once at the Startup Kitchen table) and run a businesses successfully will I am sure empower me enough to get what I want from life. After all, the more my business continues to grow and generate a profit the more freedom I will have to do things- my way! 

The vision and vogue of Jacynth Bassett of the-Bias-Cut.com “Ageism is never in style”

It was wonderful to meet Jacynth, founder of the-Bias-Cut.com when she attended our July Startup Kitchen session. Having heard about the SUK through another young business owner who attended a session, Jacynth was keen to come along and speak to our mentors… in particular about gaining further investment and promotion for her flourishing fashion brand. From her initial foray into business skills through the restructuring  of the Cambridge Law Society to setting up a fashion business for 40+ customers we were so inspired to hear about Jacynth’s vision and focus for the-Bias-Cut.com and we agree – Ageism is never in style!

Tell us a bit about your business? What’s its USP? 

the-Bias-Cut.com is an online-led multi-label boutique for the stylish 40+ woman. We’re the first online-based retailer selling affordable, contemporary labels that truly celebrates 40+ women, from the use of models, to the empowering shopping experience, and the flattering and stylish pieces we select. You won’t find any dowdy, frumpy styles here!

The collections we curate feature designs that don’t compromise on quality, style or a flattering cut. Moreover, every piece must be interesting and unique. Style is about expressing your identity, so you don’t want to see 4 other people wearing something similar in the space of an hour! So we have pretty high standards to reflect our strong, modern, discerning customer.

As well as being online, we host private pop-up parties and corporate events. Some women still prefer to shop in person, or get to know the brand first before buying online, so this is a great opportunity for them to try on and feel the garments, whilst also getting to know our team. At the events I always talk about ways to broaden your style horizons, build up your image confidence and offer inspiration. And they’re often hosted with complementary brands, which share their expertise too.

It’s so great to see young women setting up their businesses…what lead you to start up the-Bias-Cut.com when you did and have you always wanted to be a proud business owner?

I’d actually always wanted to be a barrister, and read law at Cambridge. Lots of people around me, including my brother, had shown interest in business from a young age, whereas I’d always seen myself as the academic. So the thought of going into business had never really dawned on me. But whilst I was at Cambridge I realised I wasn’t passionate about law, and was fed up with not doing something I actually really loved. At the same time I had become President of the Cambridge Law Society, and had to restructure it to operate like a business. I got such a rush from leading a committee, managing a sizeable budget, implementing new strategies and ideas, and negotiating with big law firms. That’s when I realised business was for me.

Then I had to think of an idea, and I think you should always start with what you know. I’ve had a long-term passion and understanding of the Fashion Industry, so going into Fashion was quite obvious. In terms of focusing on the 40+ customer – the inspiration was my mum. She’s a woman who loves style, always has done, but had started to feel invisible and marginalised by the Fashion Industry, largely because of her age. I was horrified by the amount of ageism she had encountered, and found so many women felt the same way. So I became determined to do something about it.

So no, I hadn’t always wanted to go into business. But I had wanted to be self-employed, and I realised the other day that I did my ICT GCSE coursework on starting up a fashion boutique. So I guess that entrepreneurial spirit had been there all along!

You’ve just launched your exciting new Autumn collection – what’s the inspiration behind it and do you have any particular fashion influences? 

What inspired me to select the pieces for the Autumn Edit has to be their contrasting textures, versatility, and moodier yet glamourous colour pallet. Whilst the silhouettes are classic with a contemporary twist.

In terms of fashion, that’s less of a focus for us. We’re more interested in pieces that allow you to explore your personal style, than follow the latest fashion trends. Obviously to keep the pieces modern, there are subtle references, but ultimately they are to be worn and loved for years. So we don’t focus on trends that will immediately date.

Is the plan to focus on the London/UK market or go global? 

At the moment I want to mainly focus on the UK market. I don’t think you should run before you can walk! And I do think that the issue of ageism in Fashion varies in different countries – a member of my team is from Italy and she was remarking how age is viewed very differently there.

But equally I do ship to 32 countries as social media has led to me having followers and customers abroad, mainly in the US and Australia. So I don’t want them to miss out!

What is special about the Startup Kitchen? How have we helped you? (I can use some of the feedback you’ve given me before re the contact side of things).

Startup Kitchen is an amazing opportunity for young, driven entrepreneurs to meet top entrepreneurs and business people who will give them honest, no-strings-attached feedback and advice. Because I’m working in a creative industry, sometimes the business aspects can be overshadowed, so it helped me re-evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the business from an investor’s perspective, and has been the inspiration behind some really great developments such as the Ageism Is Never In Style Forum we’ve started. Plus I’ve made some fantastic, supportive contacts with some very impressive people.

What advice would you give other young business owners starting out?

Believe in yourself but don’t be too proud to admit to yourself when you’ve made a mistake. It’s usually the best thing that can happen, and just makes you come back even better and stronger.

SUK Insight Series…Proud owner of Brixton’s Baddest, Daphne Greca!

By Fay Cannings

We’re back with our Insights Series where we hear about the journey and inspirations of one of the fantastic young business owners we’ve  been had the pleasure of meeting (and mentoring!) at a Startup Kitchen session.

Today we talk to Daphne Greca, the co founder and director of Brixton’s Baddest – a skater run, skater owned core skate shop based in the beating heart of Brixton in Pop Brixton. Brixton’s Baddest  is the place to go for any skate-boarding kit from the best hardware and apparel for the beginner to the regular shredder. More than this Brixton’s Baddest supports and develops the local skateboard community and is the place to go for ay friendly advice for local spots and any skateboarding queries. Daphne, originally from Greece, now calls Brixton Home and its the place that inspired her to skate in London. The South London skateboarding community has created some of the finest local UK companies and Daphne is exciting to be stocking their brands. Everything from Satta Skates, Blast Skates and Reup, the brands all represent British Badness.

Brixton’s Baddest also breeds whole culture of championing and developing local skateboarding culture. “Friends of Stockwell Skatepark” products are also available in the store with all sales going straight back to the community organisation that helps protect and preserve our skatepark from gentrification. Arts, culture and music are all positive elements of skateboarding culture which are promoted and exhibited through live music, film screenings, art events and much more to represent the scene. Altogether we combine aesthetics with functionality and we live to have fun! Pop Brixton is also the perfect place to have their first shop – home to 60 independent businesses in the heart of Brixton, they were created as a platform for local people and businesses to showcase their talent and grow stronger, together.

What lead you to set up your business? What was your inspiration? 

The practical reason that lead me to set up this business was the very obvious market gap in South London for skate boarding attire – to the best of my knowledge there are no core skate shops South the river! Moreover living in a city that the minimum wage can hardly cover the expenses of an adult, I got very tired of selling an hour of my life for £7. It got to the point where I thought I’d rather sell that hour to myself even if it for less! Setting up a skateboarding shop was the obvious calling for me, it’s my inspiration, has given me much in life so I owed it myself and the sport – it had to happen!

Can you describe a time where you’ve over come a major challenge? 

My first challenge was in the very beginning of my journey. My initial excitement made me very outspoken about my business plan and perhaps I was being a bit too open about some of the decisions I was making. One of my crucial points was location and I was aware that distributors want to keep safe distances among the skateshops in London. Consequently, when I found out that there was another submission for a skate shop in Brixton I was challenged to say the least especially as I knew my competitor personally – I wasn’t sure how this would impact the business plan and sales.

However, after the initial slight panic and rash thoughts I took a step back and accepted it as a challenge. It did make things more interesting and I learn success feels better if you play against someone. Healthy competition is always welcomed and every party learns something in the process.

Do you think it’s had challenges being a female entrepreneur?

 My gut reaction is yes! As a business woman I have experienced a lot of challenges that have overly stressed me – I call stress my frenemy! As with any other challenge in life I find the best way to deal with any issue is rationalise, rationalise, rationalise. I ask myself factual questions; what is the issue? Are they negative consequences? How do I best avoid or at least mitigate the damage? Will I care in 5 years? I have my family to thank for my go getting attitude – I was raised in family of strong female role models and my dad has been a great inspiration to me.

Also I think things have moved on a lot since for women setting up business over the last 10 years… and London is a place which encourages people to look test their ideas and push boundaries. I’ve always felt inspired to embrace the opportunity of being an entrepreneurs – make the most of the advantages of the culture we live in and try to block out the disadvantages, not given them validation!

How has the SUK helped in the last 6 months?

The SUK has being an amazing experience! It’s not just an one-off thing! SUK truly engages with the people that they want to be involved. There has been very practical advice that I have successfully applied to my business as it was very well tailored to my needs. Vitally there is an ongoing communication and sharing of any given business issue. SUK has even helped me promote my business better too!

What next….what other support would really help take your business to the next level?

Having being a company director for over a year it seems as if it all starts now! I realise what tasks I have completed successfully or have completely failed. I try to keep reevaluating my strengths and weaknesses. I have learned that I might not be the right person for all the jobs, and thats okay! Building a team and working with the right people are paramount.

We were really pleased to be featured in The Times in June with Daphne and another young entrepreneur Beatrice Newman of Korlekie – check out the article http://www.thestartupkitchen.co.uk/static/public/images/Startup_Kitchen_Brixton_TheTimes20160601.pdf

 

SUK Young Entrepreneurs – How did they do it? First up, Les Deux Amies – The French Crêpes Duo!

unnamedBy Fay Cannings

Im pleased to be launching a series interviews and case studies profiling the journey’s and learnings of some of the fantastic and diverse young business owners we have the pleasure of meeting when they come to one or more of our mentoring sessions. We hope you’re as inspired as we are….

First up is Caroline Remy and Adeline de Boismenu, co-Founders of Les Deux Amies. Caroline and Adeline gave us an insight of what it is like to start a new business in London – Les Deux Amies is a catering service offering french speciality, crêpes across the Capital.

It all started when the two friends were getting fed up of their day jobs in the corporate world in Paris – with a lack of autonomy in their roles and and ability to make the impact they wanted it was time for change. Eager to create something they decided to quit everything, follow their childhood dream to launch a business and create a food service serving exclusively crêpes. Since the two french girls had complementary experience – Adeline with lots of experience in catering and Caroline in business management, the collaboration was ideal.
Not being satisfied by the French culture of entrepreneurship Caroline explained she was ready to start all over again here in London rather than staying in her comfort zone in Paris. She believes London really drives the ethos of meritocracy and allows any young entrepreneurs to ‘give it a shot’ in starting up a new business.
So Caroline and Adeline took the leap of faith registered their business and started to search for suppliers. They received help from many friends in different sectors and within a month, everything was all systems go! The first clients appeared however, the duo, quickly realised they had a big lack of contacts. The fact their business was not based in the country they had started their career brought difficulties in creating the right networks and getting their brand noticed.
Consequently they had to switch direction – they changed their initial plan of selling their products via catering companies to directly selling to consumers through a street food offer. As Londoners know there is a big and popular culture of pop up food hubs – diverse, healthy, organic and lively places to eat and drink – the fit was there but the business model was growing very organically and they needed to clarify their future focus.

 

When Caroline and Adeline came to the Startup Kitchen session in February they were keen to speak to the experts about the next crucial steps. They had some big decisions on the table – Boxpark and other pop-ups shops were considering their service on a serious basis but knowing this meant they had to invest a huge amount of money they needed to talk through the different dimensions with people who were experienced in starting and growing businesses first hand.

There was a break through moment when one of the entrepreneurs firstly told them to ‘stop panicking!’ He helped us see we were in the right position with all the elements we needed to make an impact in the City.  Further to that he kindly linked us up with his wife a marketing expert who has worked with major brands who then gave us some brilliant strategic marketing advice after the session.

Says Caroline “ the advice we got gave us the affirmation and confidence we needed in continuing what we’d started…..it was just what I needed. The session were refreshingly unexpected on a number of levels… it was a huge bonus to have top business owners giving their time and advice so readily and it was really comforting  to speak to other young entrepreneurs on similar journeys. The Startup Kitchen really accelerated our decision making process.”

What a fantastic journey the last year has been for the French Duo – as a start up they have had to explore a variety of markets to find the best fit in a new city and their business is going from strength to strength.  Les Deux Amies will be opening soon their own shop at Boxpark Croydon soon and coming back to the Startup Kitchen for our session on 8th September – we look forward to hearing more!

Being an intern at the StartUp Kitchen

By Julia Milet 

Since the beginning of July, the Startup Kitchen welcomed me as an intern in their team. Being a journalist student at City University I was delighted to get involved in a professional environment and get an insight of what it was like to be part of a team full of experts.

Needless to say I have discovered so much in a such short amount of time. The main purpose of the Startup Kitchen is to give budding or new young entrepreneurs access to leading, talented and successful business entrepreneurs and business minds to help them navigate key business challenges at pivotal points of their business journey. Many of the young founders have overcome a range of barriers and challenges in their life or their business journey and are not linked up to other mentors of this calibre or the Tech City scene.

Studying journalism, although I have researched into the ever bourgeoning start up scene for previous projects, my knowledge of the  start up world was limited compared to these brilliant young entrepreneurs – so while they were learning from the experts, I was learning from them.

There was two key points that really hit me during those sessions. Firstly, how inspiring it is that in a competitive environment such as entrepreneurship how individuals at whatever stage they are at in their business are so eager to help each other. Guards are down and I witnessed a a real spirit of collaboration. From founders of Tech companies to social enterprises and an array of food and fashion brands everyone has a compelling personal background which strongly informs their business focus and passion.

Secondly, it was great to meet true experts and get individual insights into their secret weapons to create a successful business. Since each of the mentors have their own unique insights into entrepreneurship, the advice they seek and obtain helps the young  entrepreneurs see through a variety of lenses and build on what they have learned during the sessions.

As for the sessions themselves besides the brilliant businesses themselves everything is well thought out: from the conversation on the day between mentors and mentees to the follow up support – the sessions are action focused so all mentees walk away with their own mini action plans.

London’s vision of business is unlike any other cities. Innovation is highly prioritised and ideas can incubate and flourish. It is a city that believes in their new generation and promised itself to not let them down. For instance, talking with one of our mentee, I have discovered that the street food business is surprisingly not competitive at all. Even if you are new and trying to make an impact in this industry, other competitors will be willing to guide you in order to get it right.

During my journey, I was happy to get stuck into supporting with day to day tasks – everything from contacting previous mentees for case studies, helping with social media, and supporting with the sessions. This was my first foray into working for a charity too so a valuable experience to gain exposure in the third sector.

Overall, it was a resourceful and enlightening experience Im proud to have completed my summer internship 2016!  I found the The Startup Kitchen to be pioneering organisation which seeks to support young people in their business endeavours and create a unique experience to help them move forward with their passions and business goals. When I first came to the StartUp Kitchen, the vivacity of the team truly inspired me to work there, and my expectations were completely in line of what I got from my experience!

Team Startup Kitchen in Olympic mode at the Prudential RideLondon annual charity race!

By Fay Cannings

Prudential RideLondon is the largest annual cycling fundraising event on the planet and The Startup Kitchen were proud to have a team of 5 riders take part in the 100 mile challenge again this year on 31st July. One of  The Startup Kitchen founders Chris Bowden did the SUK team proud crossing the line in an impressive 4 hours 50 minutes!

The event is a world class festival of cycling developed by the Mayor of London in 2013 to be one of the world’s leading cycling events and it has now become a lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Cyclists participate in the London-Surrey 100 mile ride on the same closed roads as the professionals, with the added incentive of raising money for good causes in fact it’s the largest cycling charity fundraising event in the world.

Psyched up for the event after months of training our team of 5 were up at 4 am for the early start! Energised by the sounds of Ian Drury and the BlockHeads ‘Hit me with your Rhythm stick’ playing they crossed the start line at 6.11 am. Starting from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park the team made a quick start enjoying the the quiet streets of the City and promptly joining a peloton to share the burden before whizzing out to the Surrey Hills. Having put in the training miles the team were full steam ahead only stopping at the top of Box Hill at the feed stop 65 miles into the race after the famous zig-zags and steep ascent at Leith Hill. Spurred to break the 5 hours mark, on reaching the home straight back in Fulham they put their foot down to finish strong with 3 of the 5 riders finishing within 5 hours as they crossed the finish line at Pall Mall. Other riders included Erik Fairburn, Justin Stokes, Steven Belil and Josh Oppenheim.  A brilliant race and effort by all, and real dedication from Chris given he’d broken his leg earlier this year too!

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 have raised £17 million for good causes since the event began in 2013 and this year the team were racing again to support our work at the Startup Kitchen. Founded in 2014 we’ve helped many young entrepreneurs gain the critical business advice they need to help take their businesses forward and navigate through tricky business challenges. With expert advice and access to networks from successful entrepreneurs that have  been through the business journey and ‘made it’ –  the Startup Kitchen really does make a difference.

We work with a range of youth charities who refer young people who’ve often overcome multiple barriers to get to where they are and work with a diverse mix of budding entrepreneurs who are not already linked up with the startup scene or have access to this calibre of mentoring. We’ve held multiple session this year and feedback has been that the sessions are really invaluable. As a result we are expanding our program and have started running complimentary business support workshops with partners as well brokering a range of business solutions to our network of different contacts.

Said an attendee from our July session – “The business experience and standard of the mentors was exceptional, their advice was extremely sound and helpful, and I was also very impressed by how committed they were to helping us…ultimately it made me more determined than ever.”

If you would like to make a donation we would be hugely appreciative – donations are open until 20th August – https://mydonate.bt.com/events/sukpru100

 

So what makes a killer brand?

The Startup Kitchen recently met with Drop Films to learn more about what they do – I was really energised after our meeting not just because Drop Films are such an innovate company working with some of the biggest brands out there but because of their proactive approach to collaboration and sharing knowledge. Growing a start up is multifaceted process and when it comes to defining your brand and communicating what makes you special, visual story-telling is King! I’m delighted to be sharing Drop Films 5 short tips to help you define your brand.

As a result of our ongoing partnership with Seedrs and the startup/crowdfunding community – we submerse ourselves in aiding growing companies to craft their story and communicate their brand to interest investors and a wider audience. We do this through visual storytelling (video). We’ve worked with a range of products and services and really gotten underneath the skin of who they are before we even begin filming. This takes the form a few weeks pre production – workshops with the startup, discussing what they would like to achieve with the video, understanding the market they sit within, storyboarding, script writing. And, ultimately, defining their brand. Using the processes we go through in order to achieve this, we have put together 5 short tips to help you define your brand.  

  1. What is your Brand Personality?

Your brand personality is the 4 adjectives you would describe your company if someone asked you to give a summary of your brand. Everyones brand’s personality is different, even if you work in the same sector. What does YOUR brand represent? How would you describe your product/service? What is your businesses values? Some companies personality such as Adidas screams, young, urban, fresh, innovative. Whereas a classical brand like Aspinal of London’s personality simply says, traditional, refined, classic, bespoke.

So how do you get your brand personality?

Simply take a look at this list of 200 business adjectives and pick 4 that you think encompases your businesses ethics, values and product. When used, will promote the positive nature of your brand and really sum it up for potential clients, what services you provide and your values.

http://training.simplicable.com/training/new/200-business-adjectives-with-punch

However when choosing words, think about which words will sell your brand but also how you would use them to describe your company in an elevator pitch.

  1. The Elevator Pitch

You should have an elevator pitch to promote your company that can both be used in pitches but also when a client asks about your business. This can also be showcased on your website, and on social media in brief, punchy copy. Due to the rise in social media it is better to keep your elevator pitch to 140 words so your audience can get a refined notion of what your company is about. In this elevator pitch simply describe your product/service (using your brand adjectives) and the benefits you will provide for your audience.

For instance, our Elevator Pitch at Drop Films would be:

“We are an innovative production company specialising in generating exciting video content in collaboration with startup businesses to draw interest and investent to their brand.”

In this elevator pitch, we have used all our adjectives whilst also stating the service we provide and the benefits it will bring to our clients.

  1. Defining your Audience

When starting your business you obviously noted what the customer was getting from your product/service, however it is worthwhile to stop and think about the different potential audiences you have access to.

Think about the existing customers you have – what do they like about the brand? What could be improved? Why do they choose your brand over competitors? And also think about what potential customers may want. More affordable products? Good customer service? Beautiful packaging? Quick assistance?

Note down all the potential audiences and networks your business has access too and their wants and think about which of their needs you can provide for. This will make you think about adapting the benefits of your brand to reach a new audience. For promoting the beautiful packaging as well as the great product, or mentioning specific statistics to reach a technical audience. By doing this simple exercise you are expanding and refining your target audience.

  1. Features and Benefits

When aiming to define your business you should know what the features of your brand are, for instance:

  • Drop Films have a 360 degree camera

However more importantly you should know how the feature benefits your consumer:

– A 360 degree camera will help your content feel immersive to your viewers

Throughout your marketing you should always be considering what your consumer is getting out of your company, what are the benefits for them? Advertise your businesses’ benefits through social media, advertisements, video content and really target your audience.

  1. Style Guide

It is important when marketing your brand through emails, social media, your website and video content that you keep a continuous voice that represents your brand and promotes your product/service.

To retain this create a Style Guide – a word document that has all information employees should know about how your brand sounds. Is it fun? Is it serious? Make a list of key phases, words and phone numbers, emails so that clients become familiar with your company’s tone of voice.

Put this on Google Drive or a sharing platform so that everyone within your team can adapt it and add new phases to it, it will keep on expanding and be very useful to define your brand’s tone of voice.

These are 5 simple tips that both startups and mature businesses should remember so that both your employees and your audiences understand your brand, its personality, benefits and values.

I’ll leave you with a few of ours as a sign off! Team Drop Films – http://dropfilms.net

WHY_01_1.jpg

 

WHY_01_3.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY_01_4.jpg

Building the next generation of start up’s

Working with supporters is crucial for us here at The Startup Kitchen. It allows us to ally forces with important organisations, which can help us to not just tap into the young entrepreneurial talent, but also vitally enhance the range of networks and business solutions we offer mentors coming through the session. Our aim is to make a tangible contribution to young business owners in their endeavours to start or scale up their businesses, equipping them with a unique mentoring experience.
 
Most of our mentees are devoted and inspired learners committed to making their respective businesses stand out. These future entrepreneurs often have to juggle a range of commitments from night shifts, university and in some cases managing families in order to build their own companies. It is therefore necessary they seek out and find the most suitable learning opportunities or mentoring to give them the right targeted advice and networking opportunities at the right time. 
 
Today, The Startup Kitchen is proud to have support from City University London and their entrepreneurship activities, namely CityStarters, an initiative established by City University London in order to inspire and give the relevant tools to the next generation of entrepreneurs. 
 
City University London has all the keys in hand in order to help progress tomorrow’s leaders. City’s tradition of providing high quality education relevant to business and the professions dates back 160 years. For many of our graduates, time spent at City laid the groundwork for leadership, innovation and excellence.
In the recent Sunday Times University Guide 2016 City University London was ranked 4th in London for graduate employability. This is notably due to the location of the University in the heart of the City  as well as it being on the doorstep of Tech City, Europe’s fastest growing tech cluster and considered as one of the best places to create a start-up in the world.
 

By working with City University London we are not only joining forces to create business leaders but we are also inspiring students to get out there and push boundaries.

While The Startup Kitchen and CityStarters each have specific events in order to help these young entrepreneurs, this alliance will allow for entrepreneurs from both initiatives to gain additional and complementary support from the two different offers. The targeted mentoring sessions of The Startup Kitchen with successful entrepreneurs are designed to give bespoke mentoring and creative masterclasses for founders when they are at pivotal points of their start up. CityStarters’ range of seminars, networking events and interviews hosted at the brilliant pop up University, Unrulyversity and EntrepreneursTalk@Cass can tap into the skills and expertise of some of the UK’s most innovative entrepreneurs who are on a mission to help the next generation of kick ass entrepreneurs flourish.

By Fay Cannings