Stepping up to bootcamp

Fledgling entrepreneurs currently studying at the University have participated in a special Business Bootcamp aimed at boosting their chances of business success.

Run by the University’s business start-up service, Spark, the Bootcamp programme includes talks from experts drawn from across the region’s finance, legal and business community covering a range of topics.

Kairen Skelley, Business start-up expert at Spark says: “Our Business Bootcamp is an important date in the University calendar as it provides the opportunity for our entrepreneurs to gain the knowledge, skills and connections they need to take their businesses to the next level. Over the years we’ve seen many of our businesses flourish and we now have a really strong alumni, proving that the support - if offered at the right stage in a company’s development - can really make a difference.”

The majority of the entrepreneurs attending the Bootcamp have been awarded University of Leeds Enterprise Scholarships, which reward budding entrepreneurs with sound business propositions with a £3,000 to help kick start their businesses, along with a package of mentoring and business support.

Jody Acheson and Charlie Jardine shared an Enterprise Scholarship for their innovative and quirky product - the BodyBag - which is being developed through their company, Rusty Can. BodyBags uniquely capture the zeitgeist of "onesies" - the fun, all-in-one garment worn by children and adults of all ages - with a waterproof version that folds neatly into a bum-bag, aimed at the 16-24 year old music festival market.

Of Bootcamp, Jody says: "Charlie and I found all the workshops useful but, for us in particular, the one on patents and trademarking was especially relevant. This is the first time we've had to write a business plan and we have a much greater understanding of what we need to do to make our business work."

Hannah Gillicker is a BA Management student. Now in her third year, she has chosen to develop her punk record label, Break the Boundary, through the University’s Year in Enterprise provision, which allows students to pursue a business idea rather than undertake a placement year. “The University has been extremely supportive of my plans for the business, in particular with the Scholarship and the help I get from the Spark team. I’ve made some great contacts and learned an enormous amount whilst at the Bootcamp,” she says.

Spark has an extensive network of associates, which it draws on throughout the year to help its students. Among SPARK's network of professional business supporters at Bootcamp is accountant and business adviser, Steve Baker. He says: "The 2012 cohort has proved to be an outstanding group of entrepreneurs. Their business ideas were well conceived, creative and entirely achievable. They have a very bright future ahead."

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