Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp helps entrepreneurs launch new businesses
Dozens of students, alumni and local residents of the University of Reading and Henley Business School received advice on how to turn their business ideas into a reality.
Held on Zoom from 20-24 June, the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp was hosted by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE). Now in its tenth year, the Boot Camp functions as a hands-on, practical course, delivered by the Rebel Business School.
The Boot Camp's aim is to give participants the skills they need to build their own business from the ground up and make money doing what they love. The course focuses on making sales right from the very start, highlighting how to do so by spending little or no money.
Jurek Sikorski, HCfE's Executive Director, welcomed the Boot Camp attendees and introduced Simon Paine, CEO and co-founder of the Rebel Business School, who delivered the Boot Camp across the week.
Each day of the Boot Camp focused on a different aspect of building a business. Day one covered how the traditional approach to starting a business - writing a business plan and taking on debt - should be avoided in favour of bootstrapping methods such as borrowing and bartering. The second day was all about sales, targeting a specific type of customer and exploring the right channel to communicate with them. The third day helped attendees build their own website through the free Wix website developer and the fourth day focused on how social media can be used as a social network, demonstrating the use of the search function of each social media website to find prospective customers.
The final day saw an expert panel, moderated by Jurek Sikorski. The speakers were Ashan Arif, Partner at Clarkslegal, Mark Ward, Associate Director at BDO, and Liana Broe, Local Enterprise Manager for London and the South East at NatWest Group.
Ashan spoke to attendees about business structure, intellectual property and contracts, such as shareholder agreements and employment contract. Mark explored tax and how it was important to take advice early, rather than waiting for it to become a problem further down the line, and Liana covered banking for businesses, recommending business accelerators and the NatWest Business Builder, a rich resource offered by NatWest to start-ups free of charge. She advised those starting up businesses to "be clear what you want from your bank" and recommended talking to several to find out what they have to offer.
Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, spoke enthusiastically about the progress made by the Boot Camp participants over the course of the week:
"In its tenth year the Boot Camp didn't fail to deliver for the budding entrepreneurs. We provided valuable content, clarity of focus and a heightened confidence to go out and build a successful business."
Simon Paine, co-founder and CEO of the Rebel Business School, added:
"We are proud to have partnered with HCfE for such a long time. As one of our longest-standing supporters I am always thrilled to bring practical entrepreneurship skills and a sprinkling of inspiration to such a smart and engaged audience."
Participants on the Boot Camp came away from the experience both excited and motivated. Several commented on how much they benefitted from the experience.
Cassandra Renaut, an MBA student, said:
"I feel energised by the content. The actionable, achievable advice is super practical. My biggest takeaway is it has changed how I’m going to spend the money I got from the IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition and the Greenshoots Seed Finance Award Scheme. If I had not done this course, I’m pretty sure I would have wasted this money that I got and spent it on things that don’t actually lead to sales."
A full report on the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp 2022 will be posted on the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship website in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Jurek Sikorski.