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Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp 2019 Motivates Participants to Start a Business

Start Up Boot Camp 2019 Photo 6 mtime20190705105523

The Boot Camp, led by the PopUp Business School and sponsored by Santander Universities and Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, delivers a new approach to starting a business by turning the traditional approach on its head and dispelling the notion that starting a business needs a lot of money. Around 75 participants crowded into room G15 of the Henley Business School building, excited about the prospects of turning their idea into a business.

Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, opened the Boot Camp by welcoming all the participants, including the students attending as special guests for winning the 2019 IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competitions that took place in Reading, Moscow, Almaty and Kiev. Speaking about the aims of the Boot Camp, Jurek highlighted that the course would provide the approach, framework and tools to help participants turn their ideas into a business. The participants were encouraged to develop their 'entrepreneurial mindset' that would predispose them to taking action, being resourceful and focused on the customer and making a sale.


The course was delivered by Alan Donegan, co-founder of the PopUp Business School, who kicked off on a bright Monday morning by addressing the five different ways to bootstrap starting and growing your business. Participants were showed how 'get things for free', including premises, and that stuff can be 'borrowed' or 'bartered'. Additionally, Alan highlighted that you can 'sell your product or service even before you make it' in a totally new approach that turns the traditional approach to starting a business on its head. Alan demonstrated this approach by joining all participants in (literally) tearing up the 'Rule Book'.


Tuesday was about generating sales and how marketing helps to generate sales. Alan pitched 24 ways to market and explained the important difference between sales and marketing, using the example of a retail shop; attracting customers to the shop is all about marketing whilst converting visitors is all about sales. The session showed how sales can be made using customers’ money through a 'customer funded business model', although it’s not a new phenomenon – the example was given that Michael Dell started Dell by getting customers to pay for his service.

Alan left participants with the message that the answer to all marketing questions is 'who is your customer?' and the Boot Camp participants were recommended to read The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes and The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers' Cash by Prof John Mullins.

The next day was known as 'Website Wednesday', with participants getting technical together and building websites at no cost. The session emphasised that if you aren't online you are digitally invisible and that put your business into jeopardy. Participants built live demo websites in minutes and learnt ways to optimise their website.

On Thursday everyone got online again with social media, as participants contacted potential customers via Twitter. Social media tools are now firmly established as communications and sales tools and everyone was online in the afternoon, finding and talking to real customers. Sales started happening before the end of the day.

Friday started with an expert panel moderated by Jurek, addressing a range of topics from employment and finance to intellectual property and legal and tax.


The panel comprised of Dennis Lee, Head of Commercial and Intellectual Property at BDB Pitmans, Sarah Friend, Business Advisor Tax and International at BDO, Cheryl Weeks, Fund Manager at the FSE Group, and Mark Shepherdson, Business Relationship Director at Santander. Each of the panel provided their top three things wannabe entrepreneurs need to consider when starting and building a company:

Dennis Lee's top three things for a founder to consider:

1) Sort out your own internal corporate/ownership structure (shareholding).

2) Understand how you contract with external parties such as your customers and suppliers and create a robust contractual structure (including T&Cs, agreements, NDAs).

3) Consider what intellectual property rights your business relies on and protect/register them early.

Sarah Friend's top three things for a founder to consider:

1) Be careful about handing out shares to the people who help you - remember this can have tax (and legal) complications.

2) Take advantage of the tax reliefs designed to help entrepreneurial businesses, especially (S)EIS, EMI and R&D Tax credits.

3) Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time, especially for fundraising - everything takes longer than you think it will.

Cheryl Weeks' top three things for a founder to consider:

1) Be clear about what your vision is for the company and how you are going to achieve this in the short and long term.

2) Plan your funding route and give yourself time, as it takes longer than you think.

3) Ask for advice and guidance from experts so that you get support on crucial issues such as intellectual property, tax and financial forecasts.

Mark Shepherdson's top three things for a founder to consider:

1) Keep your company structures simple, as this will assist in the speed of getting bank accounts and other services you'll need up and running and reduce the administration burden.

2) Save for your tax on a monthly or case by case basis if you’re a business with a fluctuating income stream.

3) When looking for funding have a short business plan, explain how much you want and what for and importantly how you will pay it back, whilst also ensuring you link the funding to the asset life cycle (ie if you are funding a coffee machine that will last five years don't look to fund this over 10).

During the break that followed Sam Baldwin, one of the Boot Camp participants who launched a cake business, treated the other attendees to her food. All the participants greatly enjoyed the cupcakes and Sam picked up her first order, marking the first step of her journey to start running her business.

After the break Alan continued with his insight into company structure. Drawing on his experience he showed how paperwork can mount up quickly as you move from sole trader to a limited company and more so when establishing a charity. Alan's message was keep it simple and only set up a company when there is a tax advantage and focus on selling not paperwork.

For the final day's lunch break the Boot Camp participants were treated to an excellent array of food. The main lunch was served up by Sung Kim, who attended the 2016 Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp and used the experience she gained in order to start her business in 2017 called QooQn (pronounced 'Cooking'), a food match making platform business. Sung's lunch was served alongside desserts made by Jonas Tusar, winner of the 2018 IDEAFEST Competition with a veggie brownie company called Norma, and all the food was highly praised.


Concluding, Alan shared the 12 pop-up principles which focused the mind and helped participants put the week into perspective, providing a launch pad for the future. Wrapping up, Jurek pointed to the future and sounded the takeaway points from the Boot Camp which are 'just do it', have fun and 'never give up' when it comes to making a difference to peoples' lives.

This is what those budding entrepreneurs said about the Boot Camp:

Ezequiel Anibal, MSc Entrepreneurship student: "The Boot Camp provided a new and thought-provoking mindset to conduct business."

Debby Chau, MSc Entrepreneurship student: "The Boot Camp challenges the conventional way of starting a business. It reshaped my approach to entrepreneurship and made me focus on what really matters to drive success."

Marie Trilling, Henley Business School intern: "I really learned something for life, to trust in myself and to be self-confident."

Stefanie Parubets, winner of Kiev IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition 2019: "I was delighted to receive such an amazingly special prize of allowing me to take part in the Summer Start-Up Boot Camp."

A full report on the course will be posted in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the News and Events page.

Finally and not least the Summer Start-Up Boot Camp would not have happened if it had not been for the support and financial sponsorship of Santander. An enormous thank you to Santander Universities.


Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship at Henley Business School is delighted to have partnered with the PopUp Business School in hosting the 2019 Summer Start-Up Boot Camp



We are all unanimous in voting to host the Summer Start-Up Boot Camp again in 2020.


Alan Donegan

Co-founder, PopUp Business School

PopUp Business School is an education service provider helping people start businesses and giving help to entrepreneurs.



T: 07932 247 353

Mark Shepherdson

Business Relationship Director, Santander Universities The Santander Universities Division supports and manages Santander’s commitment to higher education. This is a long-term, strategic alliance with universities that benefits students and university staff.



T: 0118 921 1626

Jurek Sikorski

Executive Director, Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship

Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship is part of Henley Business School at the University of Reading which provides a hub for teaching and research in the subject, inspiring students from across the University to embrace, develop and apply their entrepreneurial abilities.



T: 0118 378 8188

Published 4 July 2019
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