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If you have an opportunity to join one of these programmes, then bite their arm off because it’s incredibly valuable

If you have an opportunity to join one of these programmes, then bite their arm off because it’s incredibly valuable

At a recent Swindon Founders event Chris Gough, MD, Mintivo and Jim Cook, CEO, Isometrica, spoke to Lucy Paine from Tech Swindon about their experiences taking part in SETsquared’s online Innovation Workout. The theme of the event was the importance of continuous learning and here Lucy gives a summary of the discussion.

Chris, tell me how you found about the Innovation Workout and why you thought you might give it a go?

I really didn’t know what I would get out of it when I signed up. I certainly went into the session with an open mind and a level of self-awareness so that I was receptive to conversation. But for me, it was just so, so much better than I thought. I thought it was going to be good. It was just so much better than that.

And how did you find the group taking part?

Chris: There was a real benefit of having such a diverse range of people. There were other entrepreneurs and founders, and even university students. I spent some time with someone who had a PhD in nuclear physics. This was just a complete “get out of the echo chamber” chat to some people that I’ve got completely different perspectives from; and those fresh perspectives really helped me to scrutinise my business.

Jim, how did you find the Innovation Workout?

I found it very challenging, actually. I think it was great being challenged, in fact everything we came prepared with, we pretty much had to roll up and chuck in the corner as soon as the Workout started, and instead we had to really push hard to keep up.

The Workout is run by mentors and experts. How did you find that worked?

Chris: They are real industry experts with no agenda. They are purely there to help you improve your business, and as a result we’ve found some opportunities, strategy changes, and pivots that can make our business stronger, just from someone spending the time helping us to discover what those things are. It was really, really good. I really loved that.

Would you recommend the Innovation Workout?

Jim: My advice would be if you have an opportunity to join one of these programmes, then bite their arm off because it’s incredibly valuable. You need to challenge yourself when you’re starting a business; talk to everyone, have a support network of friends and family in place, and then if all that is in place then crack on.

What would your advice be for anyone taking part?

Jim: It was hard work because the facilitators will really challenge you. Don’t come thinking you’re just going to sit looking at a screen all day, it was much harder than that. But the point being that you have to work hard to get something out of it. I personally got a lot out of it. The rewarding series of sessions turned some of my thinking upside down made me prioritise what I needed to do next. So yes, it was it was really great.

There’s lots going on in Swindon’s vibrant and growing tech community and this support programme is an excellent addition. The beauty of this programme is that they’re not trying sell you anything, it’s totally impartial advice and support. I’ve known SETsquared for many years now and know the impact they can have. I also know the cynicism of founders and how pushed for time they can be – for you to put your time towards it – it better be good and it has been.

I would urge all Swindon and Wiltshire based founders to take part.

Find out more about the Innovation Workout


Find out more about Tech Swindon



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The Swindon & Wiltshire Digital Business Acceleration Hub and the SME Competitiveness programme are both part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
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  • University of Surrey