Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

During my time at Manchester Business School I continuously recognised that entrepreneurship is a big theme and an area that is well supported. Manchester has been a great nurturing ground for budding entrepreneurs, with the most recent and successful example of supporting young, ambitious businessmen and women being the Venture Out and Venture Further schemes.

Over the last 10 years, Venture Out and Venture Further have seen Manchester university undergrads; postgrads and alumni compete for cash funding and recognition of their business ideas. The idea submitted can be of any kind as long as they fit into one of the four categories of: business services, social, digital or research.

Not only does the funding available attract entrants but the schemes have also had large sponsorships by local and national businesses. The Venture Further sponsors included MAHSC (Manchester Academic Health Science Centre), MSP (Manchester Science Partnerships) and NatWest.

The competition attracts a lot of attention especially to young entrepreneurs who really want to get their foot in the door and be noticed in the North West. The application is a business proposal that has the potential to succeed, and although this could seem like a daunting prospect, the Venture scheme has provided support for those who require it.

I went along to one of the support sessions to understand what the competition was looking for and how entrants could succeed. The session was to help entrants have the best possible chance at winning, by showing them how to perfect a business plan, how to create a scope and how to be realistic when looking at figures – although financial plans were not part of the application. The session was a great opportunity to reach out and connect to fellow entrepreneurs and feed off the positive energy in the room.

Once applications are in and finalists have been revealed, the ideas are then judged by a panel made up of lecturers, entrepreneurs and investors. The final day is held at Manchester Enterprise centre and allows anyone to stop by and see the ideas being presented. The room is always full of excited individuals, in some cases, showcasing their ideas to the public for the first time. The pitching skills are in full effect and as well as presenting their idea, the entrepreneurs are also presenting the most competitive profile they have of themselves. After all to buy into an idea you need to be able to see the passion and motivation behind the concept.

I managed to catch up with last year’s runner up Liam Wadsworth who told me about his two ideas which had both been successful in the competition. His first idea ‘Re-think’ was a not-for-profit solution to companies using old PC’S. Instead of throwing them out he designed a plan to get them recycled by giving them to the underprivileged youth. While at the same time the computers would be connected to a network giving network access to scientists for research in areas such as renewable energy that needs massive computing power. The idea was definitely innovative and out there, so no wonder he impressed the judges.

He also came second place in the graphene category, where he suggested the idea of graphene being used in military and combat suits, due to its strength, flexibility and lightweight nature. An idea he created to incorporate Manchester’s newly discovered material, which has a lot of potential in the future. He told me how he entered the competition to show off his creative flair in a business setting and how the competition is really helping entrepreneurs in Manchester to get going. Not only did Liam get recognition for his ideas but he also grew his network with professionals, investors and fellow entrepreneurs, making it a competition that can really help launch new businesses.

This year’s Venture Further winners were announced earlier this month, and included a UK manufactured skin-to-skin baby carrier, a marketing platform and database for photographers, a poetry programme to be used in rehabilitation centres and a software system to analyse data in a matter of days instead of months. All the winners have shown innovation and passion in their ideas and now with funding from Manchester Enterprise Centre they can continue to grow and develop their ideas.

Talking to people at the event outside of my regular circle gave me real inspiration to think about new ideas and how they can be put into practise. Having found out more about schemes such as Venture Further and the resources available to help future entrepreneurs, it has made me confident that it won’t be long until the North West produces the next Mark Zuckerberg.

 

Follow me on Twitter @jayaLsharma

Jun 17, 2015