Our North East Investment Bootcamp aims to give founders everything they need to create a growth plan that’ll strengthen their business offering and help them secure investment. Across six months, 20 businesses from the region will receive a package of bespoke mentoring support and access to exclusive one-to-one time with investors from a range of backgrounds. Meanwhile, by being encouraged to work on their business rather than in it, they’ll be able to rewire their creative brain to ensure that both their company and creative goals are reached. Eager to learn more? Programme Manager Jackie Boyd unpacks some key details with her interview with Simon Bland…
I feel the gap is instilling a review and reflect mentality amongst creative founders. This sounds like a simple and easy concept but in practice, it’s hard to apply. Raising investment is a complex and lengthy challenge, one that requires a lot of planning and thought. If creative founders aren’t busy creating, they’re busy running the business, the team, sourcing income, and finding their next client. Preparing for investment really requires you to take a hard look at the business, reflect on what you’ve done, where you want to go and why – that’s the gap that the bootcamp aims to fill. It’s all about giving founders a structure and a sounding board to sense-check their plans and their proposition with experienced people that know the industry and know investment.
It’s key for moving forward. Without it, founders get stuck in a comfortable cycle of doing the same thing. There’s no harm in that — but if you really want to grow the business, create a new product, reach a new market or audience or attract new clients, then a growth plan is key to reaching these goals. It’s especially critical if you want to secure investment, as it forms the basis of your value proposition – mapping out the opportunity, and why you’re the business to deliver it.
We have a unique opportunity in the North East to really impact the investment landscape for creative founders. The Investment Bootcamp sets out to help creatives plan for growth and prepare for investment — but alongside this, we also have a dedicated investment fund which is exclusive to the North of Tyne regions. So not only do we have the support infrastructure in place to help founders plan for growth but we also have the funds to help them achieve it. Across the Creative UK investment offer and this exclusive regional fund, founders have access to the finance they need to activate their plan and reach their full potential.
Understanding how your business is perceived by investors helps to shape and strengthen their offer. The bootcamp allows founders to gather different perspectives and feedback, which is key to testing their proposition. Founders become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, not just in terms of their investment offer but with regard to their business as a whole. This generates a structured learning process where founders are challenged on their thinking and begin to gain clarity around their own plan — what’s missing, what’s great and what needs to change.
Around 60% of the support offered through the bootcamp is delivered through one-to-one mentorship which will be bespoke. From the beginning, mentors will really get to know founders and their businesses, including their backgrounds and what drives them. As the bootcamp progresses, they’ll come to really understand who they are and what they’re trying to achieve. Founders and mentors will have regular check-ins throughout the process and ultimately, it should feel like an extension of their own management team.
It really facilitates personal development. Many small creative businesses don’t have access to a board or an advisory team. When it comes to broader business planning and long-term visions, it’s useful to have that safe space when you want to sound out a problem or an idea. It also helps that the safe space is on neutral ground — detached from the day-to-day running of your business.
Investor interactions offered through the bootcamp will happen in different formats to make sure founders can get the most out of these exclusive opportunities. These will range from direct meetings, small roundtables, investor dinners and in some cases, pitching sessions. We want to create a range of different options so founders aren’t always focused on the typical pitch-style scenario. It’s also about learning to speak to investors, not just making contacts. Having a coffee with an investor and giving a pitch are two different types of communication and approaches. To this end, we want to help founders practice engaging with investors in different settings.
They’ll be in a better position to secure investment. Of course, I’m sure there will be various ups and downs along the way as they take onboard feedback and become more aware of their business strengths and weaknesses. However, overall, they’ll be more confident founders with clear and practiced narratives surrounding what they’re doing and why an investor should be part of it. Ultimately, participating founders will be better equipped to not only secure investment but deploy it in a way that’s been well thought through.
To check if you’re eligible and apply to take part in the Investment Bootcamp, please complete an application form by 30th April.
Investment Bootcamp is part of the North East Create Growth Programme which is funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and multiple regional partners.