HATCH entrepreneurs jumped at the chance to practice their elevator pitches in front of Dame Tessa Jowell, Shadow BIS Secretary Chuka Umunna, David Goldberg (CEO of Founders Forum) and Dirk Bischof (CEO at HATCH).
The enterprises ranged from Recovery Arts; an arts rehabilitation business, to Equally Possible; an app helping disadvantaged students to get into medicine. The panel gave personalised feedback and advice where applicable, and shared their own impressions on entrepreneurship – particularly in Lambeth.
The recurring theme was that small businesses are the bedrock of British society, and Chuka Ummuna agreed that we have to ensure that entrepreneurship is made accessible so that the next generation of business owners has the right support available should they ever want to start their own business. The entrepreneurs quizzed the panel on what initiative government was taking to support young ventures and other issues were raised such as, where to find finance and how to grow their ventures.
David Goldberg suggested that whilst not every business is a tech business, there are many ways that a young venture can use tech to scale their business model. He gave direct advice to Mohammend Hashi (co-founder of the Brixton Soup Kitchen) about how they could link local restaurants and food businesses through a website or app and use technology to streamline their work and to have a model in place that can be replicated elsewhere.
There were, however, mixed views and even critical comments on using loans to start a business. Olivia Comberti, founder of The Before I Die Network, a technology and workshop business helping unemployed graduates develop professionally to gain employment, said “Many graduates are already in debt leaving the education system. The last thing they need is more debt and more worries.”
Young entrepreneurs should always test their business case first, come up with a pilot programme or test new products first. Dirk Bischof said “Rather than taking out a loan for an unproven business model, entrepreneurs need to look at building products and services that people really want. At HATCH we go back to the basics, building a product or service that a small number of people love rather than a mediocre one that you need to convince people of buying.”
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