Entrepreneurial Spark is committed to helping Scottish start-ups thrive to enable them to compete all over the world
This week I was delighted to welcome the team from MassChallenge to Scotland. MassChallenge is one of the top new start business accelerators in the USA. It is the template for Entrepreneurial Spark as it provides everything for the entrepreneur free of charge, but expects real commitment from them as they grow their new ideas. In just 4 years MassChallenge has levered in over $450M into its startups. As I chatted with John Hawthorn - its CEO - I suggested to him that Scotland was 10 years behind where we needed to be. We do not have a vibrant enough Business Angel and Venture Capital network, but more importantly, we do not have enough of those who have successfully exited and now mentor and invest in new starts. John said he could name 50 of such types in Boston alone who have sold their companies for millions of dollars and now invest time and money in the new emerging entrepreneurs.
I told John about the EDGE - our new innovative £2M Fund to energize high potential startups. He was amazed and thought it was a terrific catalyst that would create aspiration. We were on the right track….
This week saw Scottish startup entrepreneurs receive over half a million in funding… But what does that mean to individuals? One £50,000 winner was Adriaen Alexander from games company - Mental Ltd. Adriaen has bootstrapped his company over the last 6 months bringing in coders, designers and illustrators to get his first game over the line. From Cowcaddens in Glasgow, Adriaen is fiercely passionate about gaming and working hard as an entrepreneur. "I pitched for the EDGE last time around. I made it to the final, but did not get a prize. I joined ESpark in August and have developed the game, but more importantly - me! I'm thinking like an entrepreneur, seizing opportunities for my startup and collaborating with like-minded people. Pitching on Monday in front of 200 people and that panel was great fun. I felt confident in answering all the commercial questions that were thrown at me. And of course winning fifty grand was immense. It will really help my team to move faster.'
We have created something special in the EDGE Fund. It is high risk as entrepreneuring is high risk. But as a nation, we have to be prepared to push the envelope and be innovative.
Boston has embraced MassChallenge as a key component of its economic development. Indeed startup entrepreneurs fly in from all around the globe to be part of the competition. We want Scotland to be aspirational in how it grows its own oven-ready entrepreneurs.
Getting the thumbs up from MassChallenge is a big deal. Getting some seed funding into an aspirational entrepreneurial startup like Mental Goose is a big deal. But making Scotland an entrepreneurial nation that can compete globally with other big players is an even bigger deal!
If you want to accelerate your new venture - apply to the 12 month NEST programme at www.entrepreneurial-spark.com