Tech Nation’s team of 11 Entrepreneur Engagement Managers (or ‘EEMs’) are based across the UK. Their mission? To build an inclusive web in which founders can learn from each other, be introduced to valuable contacts and become notified of our programmes and initiatives, in addition to external opportunities.
As we head into September, the temperature dips, the days suddenly feel longer and reality bites as summer fades into the distance. It can be a tough period for anyone – and especially so if you’re a founder who may not have afforded yourself the luxury of a proper break during August.
A reminder that our EEMs are here to help founders for nothing in return – and that could start with something as simple as a quick chat on the phone. Here are five examples of how they supported founders in August – and how they could help you.
1. Giving founders a voice to government
An EEM can be a handy contact if you’re looking to meet certain people. Being part-funded by DCMS (the Department of Culture, Media and Sport) means that we can occasionally invite founders to rub shoulders (and discuss challenges and opportunities) with government officials at events.
In August, our EEMs invited founders to participate in the first of a series of roundtables featuring DCMS and DIT (Department for International Trade) that were set up to explore the UK’s tech competitiveness. Government representatives and key players across the UK were matched up with founders to better understand how to take digital tech forward.
Our roundtable with DCMS and founders in Wales
In Scotland, support came from our engagement manager Hazel Gibbens who leveraged her relationship with Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre, which also hosted Tech Nation Talks back in July. Our engagement managers Gino Brancazio (in Wales) and Elizabeth Corse (South East) invited founders to their respective roundtables. The latter brought together a number of ambitious entrepreneurs and was chaired by Microsoft’s UK CEO Cindy Rose.
2. Imparting UK tech sector knowledge
Our EEMs are experts in their regions when it comes to digital tech. If you’re a founder who is considering relocating or opening another business function elsewhere, our EEMs in both regions could help you weigh up the pros and cons while remaining impartial. In Northern Ireland, our resident ecosystem expert Gary Davidson worked with Invest NI last month to demonstrate to a founder the benefits of setting up an R&D house in the heart of Belfast, as an alternative to London. Armed with that knowledge, that founder is now in a position to make an informed decision.
3. Sourcing opportunities
Our engagement managers regularly meet with tech community leaders and other ecosystem stakeholders to discuss collaboration and other opportunities for founders. Last month, our South West EEM Vicky Hunter caught up with SaaStock, a global community of SaaS (software-as-a-service) founders and investors, to discuss opportunities for local SaaS founders.
And in Northern Ireland, Gary met with Catalyst NI, which is providing an opportunity for 12 scaling companies to pitch to 30 investors from outside the country in October. Additionally, accelerator Ignite NI is on the hunt for new innovative startups interested in joining its 2020 cohort.
Catalyst in Northern Ireland
Meanwhile, Thea Goodluck in the East of England sat down with British Business Bank to try a demo of its finance options tool, which takes founders through the steps of exploring financing options for their business. Heading to the capital, our London EEM Eoin Marsh met with Backstage Capital to discuss collaboration around how to help entrepreneurs, with the intention of ultimately forging a plan to support under-represented founders.
Collaboration is currently in the air in the Midlands. That hasn’t always been the case according to our engagement manager Naomi Watts, who last month introduced Digital Northampton to Leicester Startups. As a result, they’re planning to meet and discuss challenges and solutions on how to grow a successful tech ecosystem.
Heading North, our North East EEM Jamie Hardesty struck up a relationship with global paint and coatings company AzkoNobel, whose innovation is located in Gateshead. The company has a large appetite to work with local tech startups innovating in multiple subsectors, which should add a splash of colour to any founders’ life.
4. Networking at events and appearing on panels
Keen to connect with founders, our EEMs regularly attend events and speak on panels. In Scotland, Hazel checked out the epic Turing Fest, which championed home-grown founders including Chris McCann (from Current Health) and Leah Hutcheon (Appointedd).
In the Midlands, Naomi appeared on the panel at Female Founders Club Birmingham for their Women in Tech special event, which is shown in the photo at the top of this article. She described the occasion as one with a “friendly and welcoming atmosphere, allowing for honest and open sharing of the challenges women face as founders”.
5. Telling founders’ stories
If you’re a scaleup founder with an interesting story to tell and would like us to make some noise about your business, then get in touch with your local EEM. In August our EEMs helped to shine a light on companies such as Yorkshire scaleup Panintelligence, which is democratising access to business intelligence for workers. We also contacted yboo, from the same region, to hear about its founder’s feisty encounter on Dragons’ Den.
SPINR, from the North West, detailed to us its ambitious plans to grab a slice of the $25bn data integration market, and Kuldea from London shared its vision of becoming the ‘Skyscanner for furniture’. Last but not least, Wales’ We Build Bots explained how its technology can help public sector organisations cope with spending cuts.
Check back next month to discover how our Entrepreneur Engagement Managers helped founders in September.
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