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Many people have started businesses but very few actually get to build them into big successful companies. There are many pitfalls, with raising finance an art in itself.
Tech start-up RazorSecure had a working product and a few small trial sites but was struggling to get things off the ground. But less than two years ago CEO Alex Cowan attended SETsquared’s entrepreneurship programme in Basingstoke. The organisation has since taken off after receiving expert support and securing significant investment – enabling them to run some big trials.
“The support our company has received from SETsquared has been incredible. By working with an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Basingstoke hub, we’ve cemented our business strategy and developed to become investment-ready,” Alex said of RazorSecure’s rapid rise.
The company, which has created a real-time security monitor and recently trialed its technology on a train service in Sweden, decided it needed support before signing up for a programme. In just over a year it had received a significant amount of investment.
“The investment we’ve raised will allow us to properly kick off with the next stage of the business. We’ll be able to move to a bigger office space and build up the team with more full-time staff, allowing us to really grow and transform the business,” Alex added.
SETsquared, the global number one university business incubator, has announced a series of two-day entrepreneur workshops across the M3 region over the next three years, meaning other start-ups will now also have the chance to transform their businesses.
The next workshop is set to run on 2-3 February in Basingstoke – with attendance fully funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Those on the course will also have the chance of being selected to receive support for their business from SETsquared for up to a year.
The programme covers all basic areas of starting a business. It teaches attendees about routes to market, raising money and perfecting pitches, how to get a business idea off to a great start and preparing to test it on the market.
As well as giving organisations access to investors, the programme combines sessions led by experienced entrepreneurs with lectures and small group workshops, equipping delegates with the skills to achieve success. The interactive modules range from market analysis to business plans and funding strategies.
Rajpal Rai, of start-up Typara, a company with a mission to take the pain out of audio and video transcription through its web based tool, revealed SETsquared was invaluable to her business.
“The course helped us to significantly refine our thoughts on the key selling points of our business. It gave us the language to use in order to articulate why our solution was valuable,” she said.
“On a practical level, it helped us create a powerful and succinct elevator pitch, which we’ve been using successfully ever since and has helped us open new doors.”
Other key insights that benefitted Rajpal’s business included understanding the target market in greater depth and gaining knowledge of finance in a business context, as well as receiving vital feedback.
“You get the opportunity to pitch your idea to investors and business experts, which whilst daunting is an essential skill in business and again you get live feedback afterwards in the form of a speed mentoring session,” Rajpal added.
“This kind of input from experts at the top of their game is like gold dust and has really enabled me to push my venture forwards.”
The programme is aimed at entrepreneurs with an idea for a tech-based product or service, founders of early stage technology businesses, as well as more experienced entrepreneurs launching a new product or venture.
Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, said: “Businesses that have taken part in our programmes have gone from strength to strength – with many having secured serious investment.
“This is an invaluable opportunity to get invaluable support for free as well as be selected for our business support, again fully funded thanks to ERDF, for up to a year. We’re looking forward to seeing many more success stories from these programmes over the next three years.”
SETsquared has helped over 1,000 businesses secure more than £1bn of investment over the past 14 years.
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