Pre-start accelerator looking to replicate past success

Budding entrepreneurs and start-up businesses are being encouraged to apply for a pre-start accelerator programme backed by the Welsh Government.

Last year’s programme was a big success, having supported 12 promising businesses that are now preparing to launch. It’s part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The project aims to contribute more than £40 million to the Welsh economy over the next few years and is expected to create 200 jobs in Wales at the same time.

It’s now in the second year and looks to build on previous success. Most of the businesses that took part in the last cohort are looking to launch within the next three months.

Pre-Start is open to businesses that can demonstrate potential for growth. They should aim to create at least ten jobs and generate £2 million in turnover within three years.

This programme will take place for 12 weeks at Welsh ICE, which is Wales’s largest innovation centre and co-working space. It’s run in partnership with the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme.

Participating businesses will receive a range of support from ICE and its partners, including access to investors and needs-based masterclasses held by Welsh business experts.

Gerry Hallett, programme manager, said:  “AGP values its relationship with key delivery partners, in Wales‘ growing and diverse economy and has a long standing relationship with Welsh ICE.

“We are keen to support this initiative, as a means of identifying and supporting the “pre-start” segment of the economy, to help develop new, fresh, creative, high value and high growth businesses across Wales.”

Mandy Weston, COO at Welsh ICE,  said: “Gaining entry to the Accelerator Programme is tough and proving that you are capable of creating a minimum of 10 jobs and turning over £2m, in your first three years, is no mean feat.

“However, twelve companies made the cut last year and over half will have launched, in the next three months, with the others looking to launch in 2017.

“The programme has made a very promising start and shows how, with the right idea, motivation and support, pre-start companies can progress toward bigger things.

Gemma Hallett is one of the entrepreneurs to benefit from the programme. She is the founder of miFuture, a career-matching mobile app for school leavers.

She said: “Starting a business can be very daunting, especially when you set yourself such ambitious targets. However, the programme provided me with the support I needed to get miFuture off the ground; introducing me to the experts I needed, when I needed them.

“Be that developers, business planners or finance experts; once I needed specific support, I was introduced to the appropriate person.

“miFuture, in a nutshell is Tinder for careers, matching qualifications, experience and hobbies with job specifications and recruiters.

“Users are matched to opportunities that fit their career options and can swipe left to apply and right to ignore, helping make job searching more applicable and engaging. We aim to be the UK’s first swipe and apply career app when we launch nationally early next year, after having our soft launch back in September.”