UK gets entrepreneurial boost

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

Bleak times no more. Data shows that Britain’s enterprising spirit is stronger than ever.

Many organisations, including StartUp Britain, Rockstar Youth and the government’s own Start Up Loans scheme (read our interview with the creative director) reported a raise in the applications, especially young people between 16-30. In fact, the Prince’s Trust startup helpline received +42% in 2012 alone.

Furthermore, since 2008, UK’s youngest entrepreneurs increased by a third and more than half of the new businesses were founded with less than a grand.

The internet has the potential to make entrepreneurs of us all – Annika Small, Director of Nominet Trust.

The weak economy and lack of job security, prompts more people to bet on themselves rather than seeking opportunities with bigger companies. “If you want the economy to change, we need more people to stand up, be bold and brave and create the jobs that are not there right now,” entrepreneur Kieza De Sousa, 19, told to the BBC.

And it seems that women have responded positively to the call for change. Figures highlight the growing role women are playing.

Women-led businesses annually contribute a whopping £70 billion to the British economy.

In the UK however there is a clear enterprise gap between men and women. Researches indicate that an extra 150,000 businesses would be created if female ownership levels were the same as men.

The UK ranks only sixth out of 17 countries for female entrepreneursa new study has shown, even though a recent report released by Sage UK revealed that half of young women aged 18-24 were keen to start a business, many wanting to break away from the traditional 9 to 5 to pursue their passions.

More women in the boardrooms bring positive change at a wider scale too. Bringing women into businesses creates what Michael Porter and Mark Kramer of the Harvard Business School call “shared value”—it helps companies while helping communities too. 

There is no doubt, that the increasing numbers of women in the economy has helped fuel significant growth everywhere. And economies that are making the shift more effectively and rapidly are dramatically outperforming those that have not. – Hillary Clinton

Feeling inspired yet? If you look for some more motivation, check out our Founder Talks and interviews with the top Girls In Tech. And you if you want to share your journey with us just get in touch on Twitter & Facebook.

London Startup Weekend: the fashion edition

London Startup Weekend December 2013

If we were in a John Hughes ’80s film, fashion and geeks would not mix. It would definitely be unlikely to see the chronicles of Molly Ringwald as a startup entrepreneur.

Luckily for us, we’ve put mullets, scrunchies and fluo clothing behind us, along with an antiquated mindset.

In today’s world, where Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue attends the Webby Awards and Angela Ahrendts moves from fashion label Burberry to Apple, there are no preconceptions anymore.

Samsung smartwatch has just shown the wider public a glimpse of where technology (and fashion) can head next. ASOS has relieved thousands of us to fight the crowds to get hold of a garment. Net-a-porter brought luxury back to its true meaning. Notwithstanding how 3D printing and Chris Anderson’s foreseen “makers revolution” will impact our lives in the future.

London Startup Weekend 2013

That’s why there couldn’t have been a more appropriate moment to give the London Startup Weekend a makeover and launch an edition entirely dedicated to fashion, which took place in December 2013.

If you don’t know how the London Startup Weekend works, here’s its simple formula: no talk, all action, launch a startup in a 56-hour long, hands-on jam!

With 12 ideas to develop and only 3 winners, this edition’s top teams were Fashion Brief, a project-planning software focused on shoots and shows; Swappi, a super simple group fashion swaps and Wardro, a Pandora for menswear.

London Startup Weekend December 2013

Feeling inspired? Here there are the top tips from those who made it, London Startup Weekend’s mentors and judges:

– Background doesn’t matter

Don’t fret over the fact that you don’t know your Manolos from your Jimmy Choo’s. Nicola McClafferty, founder and CEO of Covetique, originally came from a finance background and never dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Her pre-owned luxury fashion business was inspired not from the pages of Vogue but from startups like Airbnb that focus on people extracting value from what they own. Her aim was to mainly focus on delivering a quality product in a lean way in order to streamline the logistics of moving luxury fashion. The hardest part? Deciding it was the right time to go for it!

– Listen up!

It’s good to be confident and pursue your dream, but beware. Amrita Kriplani, Senior Product Manager at ASOS, said “one huge problem with startups is getting stuck in your vision. Listen to feedback, don’t ignore it.”

– Do your homework

Lee-Jon Ball, founder of Alliants and fashion entrepreneur himself, said to always ask yourself a question: has the idea already been thought of? Complete a thorough research of what’s out there before diving into it. If there’s something similar out there, what can you bring to the table to improve it?

– Flexible business model

Vassilios Alexiou, Executive Creative Director & Founder at Less Rain, said that not all the good ideas should be developed following the steps of Mark Zuckerberg. Think if you can bring your services and expertise to existing firms and brands rather than starting fresh on your own and compete against giant competitors. Your project might not become the next best-selling app in the Apple Store, but it could more profitable.

– Don’t go solo

There are many opportunities out there. You don’t necessarily have to run your business from your bedroom, you may also seek out the support and partnership of bigger companies. That’s what Kevin Farrar suggests, who scouts the best talent for IBM and helps entrepreneurs grow within IBM.

What the Startup weekend showed is that great ideas know no boundaries, they can help solve problems in any sector, even saving fashion victims 😉