Routes to Entrepreneurship

In early September, 36 eager young aspiring entrepreneurs gathered at a location in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, to start their year long journey learning about entrepreneurship. The cohort is the Class of 2014 specially selected to join The New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme from nearly 1000 applicants.

In early September, 36 eager young aspiring entrepreneurs gathered at a location in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, to start their year long journey learning about entrepreneurship. The cohort is the Class of 2014 specially selected to join The New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme from nearly 1000 applicants.

As I observed and listened to the group as they got to know each other over the next three days, I was struck by the very different journeys they had taken to get onto the NEF Programme, and also by their expectations, ambitions, aspirations and fears. I realised how difficult it is for a young person to navigate through the hundreds (if not thousands) of entrepreneurship services and programmes that are available in the UK.

We have compiled a high level list of programmes, services, funding sources and other initiatives which we give to the people who are unsuccessful in being selected for the NEF programme and I thought I would share it more widely. We have collated the initiatives into broad categories under the headings of Incubators & Accelerators, Internships, Networking, Training and Masterclasses, Mentoring and Coaching, Government Funding, and Angel Networks. The list is not exhaustive but listing every company in a blog would be impossible. Of course, highlighting any particular company does not mean that we recommend or endorse them. As always, you must do your own due diligence and select the one that best meets your situation, position and needs.

Networking, training and masterclasses

New Entrepreneurs Foundation: Selects up to 35 bright, aspiring young entrepreneurs and provides a one year, full time programme that combines hands on experience through a work placement with a high growth SME with intensive training, business mentoring, coaching and access to networks. (applications for the Class of 2015 will open on 14th November 2013).

Young Enterprise: The United Kingdom's largest business and enterprise education charity. Every year we help 250,000 young people learn about business and the world of work in the classroom under the guidance of a network of 5,000 volunteers from 3,500 companies.

School for StartUps: School for Startups creates education programmes, events and online support for budding entrepreneurs; with the objective of helping anyone turn their business idea into a reality. Our vibrant global community is supported both online and offline through mentoring, meetups and discussion groups.

Startup Leadership: The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a highly selective, 80-hour, 6-month world-class training program and lifetime network for outstanding founders and innovators. SLP Fellows have founded 700 companies that have raised $370 million, and include breakthrough and award-winning startups like Savored, TomNod, Ixigo, NatureBox.

Enterprise Lab: We are a lean, forward thinking, myth busting and disruptive support force for young people, making them more employable and encouraging an enterprising mindset. We do this by working with schools, colleges and universities in the UK and internationally, offering pupils and tutors opportunities and experiences that help them to develop skills and build their confidence and career prospects through our skills enrichment programme.

The Prince's Trust: The Prince's Trust Enterprise programme provides money and support to young people to set up their own businesses.

General Assembly: General Assembly transforms thinkers into creators through education and opportunities in technology, business, and design.

Accelerators and incubators:

There are a growing number of accelerators and incubators across the UK. Just google for a list in your area but these are the ones we know:

Wayra: Telefonica's series of technology incubators for early stage startups. The London incubator opened in June 2012.

Accelerator Academy: The Accelerator Academy is a successful and established 12 week high growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, through Training, Mentoring and Access to Capital.

Entrepreneur First: Entrepreneur First is the only seed investment programme in the world that selects entirely on the basis of talent. We recruit brilliant students and recent graduates, often pre-team and pre-idea, and support them to build high-growth tech startups in London.

Rockstar Youth: Rockstar Youth is a part of the Rockstar Group the UK's largest entrepreneurial mentoring organisation. Rockstar Youth have produced a market leading programme for young entrepreneurs aged 18-30 yrs to support them through principle ideation to enterprise creation and furthermore accelerated growth and investment.

Oxygen accelerators: Oxygen Accelerator is a tech accelerator. A 13-week intensive mentor led bootcamp that culminates with a series of investor days where we will help you pitch to a large, carefully selected group of Angel investors, VCs and Private Equity groups for next stage funding.

Level 39: Level 39 is Europe's largest accelerator space for finance, retail and future cities technology companies.

Innovation Warehouse: Innovation Warehouse brings together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators. Our locations provide coworking, shared office space and access to startup growth accelerator programmes such as seed funding, angel investing, mentoring and events. Innovation Warehouse is the perfect place to grow.

Find Invest Grow: FIG works with young entrepreneurs, typically undergraduates and graduates of the past five years, to see them crystallise their ideas, support them through the development of their business plans and introduce them to suitable investors.

Internships/Placements services and programmes

Just looking to get a job or an internship in a start-up? The companies below specialise in placing talented young people into high growth start-ups.

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Government Grants and Funding

There are more options for funding available now than ever before. Start-up funding in the form of grants and loans are available locally, regionally and nationally. These are some of the sources of funding you should look into if you're just starting your business.

Start-up Loans: A Government backed scheme which provides loans of up to £10,000 to first time entrepreneurs aged between 18-30 years of age. Since launch, the scheme has awarded nearly £47m in funding to over 9000 businesses. These are the current delivery partners for the scheme

The Creative Capital Fund: The CCF is a £6.5m equity fund that helps talented entrepreneurs and businesses in LondonÂ's creative industries achieve their potential by providing seed capital investment and business support. It was established in March 2005 as part of the Creative London programme. Creative London is the strategic agency for the creative industries and is part of the London Development Agency.

Frederick's Foundation: A charity that helps people wishing to set up, or expand their own business as a means to achieve financial independence whilst rebuilding their confidence and self esteem but are unable to access the finance required from conventional sources.

NESTA: Nesta is an independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills.

Angel Networks and other funding

London Business Angels: A Leading UK Business Angel Investment Network which helps high growth early stage companies raise equity finance.

Minerva: Minerva Business Angels Network has been established since 1994, providing a forum for private investors to invest in emerging technology businesses.

Angels Den: At Angels Den, we have been successfully matching Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors for six years. We now invite Entrepreneurs to pitch their business projects online with a video. This allows Investors to use our brand-new platform to offer funding for a share of the business, Lenders to offer a fixed term loan and Donors to simply help make it happen with no strings attached.

Cass Entrepreneurship Fund: The Cass Entrepreneurship Fund is a £10 million venture capital fund, providing growth equity to start-up and early stage companies. The Fund finances a number of high-growth young businesses as well as providing general support and incubation facilities.

Enterprise 100, London Business School: Launched in 1999, the club has evolved to become a fundamental part of the bridge between what's happening in the classroom, the School's successful entrepreneurs and the business community at large. Set up to extend the School's association with the world's leading entrepreneurs, and operating within the School's Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the club already has over 90 members and always welcomes new applications.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, one of the organisations listed above WILL be able to help you. Your first lesson in taking the initiative is to decide which of these best suits your needs and call them. If you do that, it is the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. Good luck!


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