Brave Start Ups!

Brave Start Up – Meet the Cohort and hear their stories

Entrepreneurial ambitions are a lure for many of us, but it’s common to hear people say they feel they lack the confidence of knowing where to start and what they should do. In April this year, we thought it would be good to bring a few of our members together and support them through a programme to see them through to the evolution of their idea into something more substantial and concrete.

In this article we introduce some of the people on the programme and their business ideas, both to show their wares and to share our learning.

First let’s meet these people and their businesses. It is our hope that if you have any interest in what they are doing or have some skills you feel could support them, that you get in touch and we can connect you.  

Anna Saunders:  Gallery Owner based in Devon.  

Are you based in Devon and free October 29th?

Anna has a background as an animator Her artistic career has taken her from the world of traditional hand-drawn animation on breakfast cereal commercials and Peter Rabbit in London’s Soho all the way to animating Looney Tunes characters at Warner brothers in Los Angeles where she lived for 20 years. She's bringing her unique talents, network and experience to Honiton in Devon where her gallery opens October 29th.  

Are you based In Devon and do you like the idea of buying unique and interesting art from £29? Next month, after the gallery opens and the website launches, we'll share our next instalment with links to her gallery. Blue Pencil Gallery

Cathy Hawkes

Fed up with dainty, fiddly jewellery with charms and delicate trinkety bits? So is Cathy! Cathy Is developing chunky, bold and brave jewellery for the mid-life+ woman who wants to wear a statement piece. Attracted to the unique and artisan nature of her work, her customers are prepared to pay a premium for her pieces which will start at around £300. In the meantime, Cathy has also managed to land a full-time job, so progress has been a little slow in terms of crafting pieces but she's of the view her main outlets will be through platforms like Etsy.  She's also keen to get into some magazines, so If you have any connections in this space, please get In touch.

Alix Francis:  Her idea for a sustainable jewellery business isn't currently sustainable!

Let's qualify this. Alix started the programme very much with the view of exploring a few Ideas. As most business owners understand, it takes a while to build a business model and Alix was always of the view she would need to explore any ideas of building a 'side hustle' on the side. She's learned for example that the silver and gold beads she wanted to supply would be too expensive to produce vis a vis what the market would be willing to pay. She's still exploring and keeping her thoughts about sustainable jewellery in the 'hobby' camp of her work. We are delighted to report, since starting the programme Alix has landed her 'dream' job. Her draw towards sustainability has landed her a job with a consultancy specialising in helping businesses become more sustainable. Her background in event management (and who knows - maybe the demonstration of her commitment to sustainability with her hobby business) helped her land the role?!

Jude Cormack:  Fermenting good ideas and foods

If we could package Jude's humour and brain, we think it would fly off the shelves!

Jude takes all manner of foods by the power of fermentation converts whatever is seasonal into a tasty addition to your kitchen larder. Sweet Carrot Lime (oh woh oh oh - think England football chanting and you get the idea) or Gold Zinger - her spicy raw vegetable mix are available through her retailers. Jude like many of you works a portfolio of jobs. She's also a scout leader, a co-op community leader and mum to two teenagers. Like many of us, time has been Jude's biggest issue. She's tried farmers markets with mixed results and so far is finding local cafés and partner businesses are stronger outlets for her sales channels. The only way to know for sure is experimentation and trials. In the meantime, Jude's knowledge of flavours and good bacterial gut health continues to grow - as does her loyal base of followers.  Learn more about her business here: Jude's Good Food

Hazel Roberts - English Language Coach

Hazel has only just returned to Dubai after a nearly 6-month stint in the UK. She's been back here to visit family as well as to work on her business. She's landed in her niche: the middle east Is filled with corporate employees whose mother tongue is not English and yet they are providing services to English speaking clients. Good examples are the IT or real estate industry. This may be a long shot for this newsletter, but please - if you know of anyone based In the Middle East whose employees might benefit from Hazel's warm, savvy and laser sharp insight to catapult people from feeling tentative to feeling confident speaking to an English audience get in touch! Hazel can be found on LinkedIn where she's currently building up her network. Connect to Hazel here: Hazel's LinkedIn profile

Peter Appleton: The only man on the programme who is providing a solution to busy families to extend their taste and flavour buds with his 'spice bombs'. Peter combines flavours and takes them to farmers markets near his home (primarily market towns in Essex). Peter Is already at the stage of understanding this is a more complicated business than it originally sounds.  Each farmers market is unique with some villages having a higher density of older and wealthier residents than others that have a predominantly younger population with children following them around the market. Peter continues to deepen his knowledge and insight of this business.  You can follow him here - or better yet, go to a market and buy some of his products!

What we covered:

We took people through a process of:

Identifying the problem or need they were addressing

Understanding their target customers (ideal customer avatar)

By getting clearer on the problem and who you are solving this for, it's much easier to then think about the branding and voice of your service or product. We were lucky to have Floss Gibbs join us to take the cohort through their ideas.  

It's only at this stage that it makes sense to then start to think of how you are going to put your brand across - the marketing piece. This also encapsulates how and where people can find you, which inevitably for many may mean a website, so we were joined by Harris Karim - the Brave Starts co-founder to take people through a 'surgery' workshop to work out the ideal platform for them to work with.

With any start up idea, it needs testing and experimentation which Is a theme that runs throughout. For example, Alix started with one idea, but after we introduced her to another jewellery designer, she was able to get better insight into one idea which then lead on to a refining of what to do next. Likewise, Jude has learned farmers markets are a great way for her to get feedback on products but sales through other channels like small cafés are more lucrative.

Towards the end of the programme, Mike Mansfield - programme leader and now CEO for Pro Age (but for this last workshop wore his accountant hat from previous days) took people one on one through how to construct their own profit and loss account. The needs at this stage of the businesses are not at the point of needing more complex financial support.  

All in all, the programme has been a brilliant way for us to learn more about the needs and worries shared by small businesses and start-ups in the early stages of their business.

If you would like to come and meet them and hear in more detail about what help they would like - or if you have your own start up idea and want to share it and get some support amongst like-minded individuals, come along on Monday 14th November at 6.00 p.m and be part of what we do next.

Lucy Standing

My name is Lucy Standing