It all started with an advert that Min (one of our Co-founders) bumped into by chance in April 2016.
For those of you not in the know, Entrepreneurial Spark is a business accelerator programme which is supported by Natwest/RBS and other professional firms. It is a not-for-profit organisation which looks to support, nurture and help grow start-up and small businesses and they were opening up a new hub in Cardiff. E-Spark call each of their hub's 'Hatchery's" and they were looking for chicklets ( entrepreneurs ) to take under their wings and help them grow.
We were so excited to hear about this opportunity, but had to apply to get in. So we set about preparing our pitch and delivered it to the Entrepreneur development manager Caroline and Excellence Engineer Andy from the Bristol Hatchery who would decide our fate and whether we would join the brand new Hatchery in Cardiff. We found out later that day that we were successful and were so excited. Whilst still struggling to contain our excitement, we then had some even more exciting news!! The new Hatchery in Cardiff was going to be in the newest office building in Cardiff city centre, and we would be sharing office space with the likes of the BBC, a law firm and an advertising agency (S3 Advertising) at One Central Square. Amazing!
We were not sure what to expect, but it has turned out to be one of the best decisions we had ever made for the business.
In the short time ( exactly 1 month today ) since joining Entrepreneurial Spark we have already benefitted immeasurably . The office space is great, but that is just such a small part of it. We are a small team of two, working alone at home mostly and didn’t have anyone else to talk to, but being in the Hatchery means we have hundreds of like-minded people who we can share and bounce ideas off or to just ask those “silly” questions. Within days of arriving in the Hatchery, we made connections with people who could help us, either through their experiences or simply because they had a service that we could use, so we can grow our business by helping others to grow theirs - fantastic. We are also hoping to be able to collaborate with other members of the Hatchery community going forward as well, and have already made in-roads in this respect. Keep an eye out on our facebook and twitter feeds for news of this in the future.
The other fantastic benefit is that we have genuinely been empowered by the program with the support of our E-Spark team Caroline and Rony @ the Hatchery who have been really supportive, but special thanks goes to our enabler, Kate Striong who has given us a critical eye when we need it, but also really pushed us to focus on the right areas, some of which we would tend to shy away from, and for making us analyse our business in a way we hadn’t before.
Another great opportunity which has come from the Hatchery was to be part of a pitch competion. We have been selected to enter a national pitching competition which the staff at Natwest and RBS will be voting on. We are one of only 5 businesses from the whole of the country who were selected to be put forward, we couldn't believe it. Fingers, arms and legs are all crossed and if you know anyone at Natwest or RBS, please ask them to vote for the Niche Lane pitch.
Entrepreneurial Spark’s unique Enablement programme has changed our mind-sets and behaviours as entrepreneurs and we are looking forward to what is ahead of us.
Thank you E-Spark, for creating such a fantastic programme and for inviting us in