With the region’s Enterprise Zones boosting a thriving business scene, the South West is the place to set up stall.
Regarded as a hotbed of innovation, invention and entrepreneurship, the area provides the machinery that actively drives the nurture, development and growth of diverse and vital new businesses starting up each year.
As a young (or indeed any age!) person with a bright idea in the SW you're in the right place to see a dream through to realisation. There's a wealth of enterprise resources; incubators, mentors and networks available throughout the region. Many are led by local universities to encourage entrepreneurialism among students, such as SETsquared, a partnership between Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey universities; the University of the West of England's Basecamp - UWE generating 241 new businesses among graduate students in 2013/14 - and Plymouth University's Futures Entrepreneurship Centre launched in 2013.
Other organisations like The Engine Shed in Bristol allow for space where entrepreneurs can meet and collaborate, and YENA, an association providing networking opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Bristol & Bath, and hubs like Business West offering access points to start-up advice and funding services.
We showcase 9 exciting new businesses in the region we are proud to be working with, started by (not 9, but in fact 16!) talented young entrepreneurs, who share their top tips for starting and growing a business.
Underpinned by an impressive team and partners supporting the project, The Wave is the brain-child of founder Nick Hounsfield, and is already well underway in its development.
To be located just outside Bristol in South Gloucestershire, The Wave is on track to open its doors in 2016. Primarily a surfing lake powered by cutting edge wave-making technology, it will also serve as a health and educational destination where people from all walks of life can come to relax, get close to nature and play, learn and explore.
He says of the project, "It has surfing at its heart, but it's a lot more than that. We want this space to help educate and inspire people on a whole range of areas, from marine conservation to science and technology, from sustainability and renewable energy to promoting healthy lifestyles."
Nick continues, "The aim is to recreate this project across other regions where inspiring sports infrastructure and engaging educational facilities are needed."
In 2014, Nick was voted by The Telegraph as one of the UK's 'Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs'.
"Think big, think bold. What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Be tenacious but humble and surround yourself with awesome people. Set your values down early and let them guide you through your decisions."
- Nick Hounsfield, The Wave
An SAAS (software as a service) platform, Missionly was set up by three UWE graduates Denis Sellu, Chris Dalley and Will Duddell. The system provides tools to enable businesses to easily push a job directly to relevant universities, course lecturers and external platforms, enabling students and graduates to apply for part-time work, graduate roles, internships, freelancing and volunteering opportunities.
Will says, "We focused on creating tools that give directors the power to recruit quickly and simply, yet super-effectively without having to outsource to agencies. Because this is all automated, we can provide this service at a fraction of the cost a typical recruiter would charge.”
The winner of UWE's Entrepreneurs of the Year 2014 award, Missionly has since featured in many publications including Forbes magazine and Business Leader, and cited as being a part of 'Britain’s best tech cluster'.
"Always validate your assumptions and test ideas as quickly as possible.”
- Denis Sellu, Missionly
Pumpkin and Pye
Based in Exeter, Natasha Gawthorne has been working as a freelance florist for over 15 years, evolving this traditional skill to offer something more personalised and innovative to the wedding scene. And in the process she's set her sights further afield.
In 2013 she started up Pumpkin and Pye to offer an alternative to traditional bouquets and buttonholes. Her unique bouquets cater to any style or theme, creating a personal focus and talking point at a wedding. Her creations have included a posy of miniature vintage wooden toys, a steampunk buttonhole made up of metal pieces and watch parts, and even a Mexican Day of the Dead bouquet complete with tiny colourful skulls.
Natasha's pieces are handmade in the UK but she is finding a vibrant customer base abroad and now delivers commissions overseas. She has become one of the top alternative bouquet makers in the world, featured internationally in various magazines and major blogs.
"I love working with pretty much anything that can be wired into a bouquet. We are always creating unique bouquets for brides all over the world." Natasha says.
"Keep a notebook handy at all times for new ideas and sketches of new designs... oh and NEVER give up, you will get there if you are determined and work hard enough."
- Natasha Gawthorne, Pumpkin and Pye
Brand new to the creative scene in Bristol, Huxley has already created work for some impressive brands, including Lush, Google and The National Trust. A full-service film production studio with a fearless approach to developing ideas, they describe themselves as "combining contemporary film making and animation to create brave, bodacious content". And looking at their show-reel I'm duly impressed.
Started up this year by veteran film makers Jose Macerola, Alex Try, and Andy Eagles, the Huxley philosophy is about creating authentic, culturally driven work to help brands evolve beyond the expected.
Alex says, “It was important for us to do something we love - if your work is your passion, then your passion will sell your work. That’s what we do for our clients too. We make films that connect with audiences, and share the passion behind the work.”
Jose added, “We like to help brands be brave with new ideas - branded content needs to stand out from the crowd. Great things happen when we pluck up the courage to try something new, and that's what Huxley is all about."
“Make sure you take the time up front to get your brand right. You’re going to be building it, living it, and loving it for a long time. Get it right and things will just fall into place. Get it wrong and you’ll spend time, money and energy going back to square one with a feeling of de-ja-vu!”
- Andy Eagles, Huxley
Pour Man's Lunch
Founder Peter Martin's passion for soup-making at home inspired his idea to create something unique to offer on the high street.
Selling locally-sourced premium soups, Pour Man’s Lunch operates through a tiny shop in Bath; working with local businesses and bakeries to offer four or five soups made with locally sourced meat and fresh vegetables, finished off with a range of delicious toppings and a choice of fresh rolls made from baked sourdough or ciabatta.
Peter says, “We pride ourselves on sourcing our soup from the Bath Soup Company, which is a local social enterprise and which donates all profits to homelessness charities.”
"Establish your USP and be clear about what you want to achieve. Have a clear idea of how you want your business to grow in the future".
- Peter Martin, Pour Man's Lunch
After completing a degree in fashion, Liesel Corp spent 7 years self-employed as a set and costume designer before founding Magic Mirror in 2014. The world's first full-length, lightweight, shatterproof travel mirror, it has been dubbed as the ultimate travel companion.
Those getting ready for this year's festival season may well want to check it out. The mirror contains no glass, is handmade from acrylic with a durable canvas backing and stylish carry-bag. Easy to slip into a handbag, case or backpack, taking up little space, it's very portable.
"I had the idea for the mirror when I was working at festivals and experienced countless situations where I’ve seen the need for it, but nothing existed in the market.” Liesel says.
Magic Mirror has already attracted celebrity fans including Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, and 4Music host Arielle Free, who tweeted that the mirror was “the best thing ever invented". And, Cosmopolitan recently wrote: “There’s no other way to describe this gizmo than GENIUS.
"If you want to start a business just do it. Write a plan and it will all fall into place if you believe in your idea.”
- Liesel Corp, Magic Mirror
With mostly junk food on offer at the local corner shop and a lack of healthy options available from most corporate vending machines, three University friends, Charles Arnold, Joe Seager and Giles Mitchell, set up Office Pantry as the new solution to fending off office hunger pangs.
Office Pantry, based in Bath, delivers British snacks in an upcycled wooden box to hungry workers in offices across the country, collecting payment upfront. The peckish worker chooses a perfect snack whenever they please, paying directly into the built-in honesty box to reimburse their office.
Commenting on the business model, Giles says:”We send out food to offices regularly with rolling payments. The offices collect the money, and can do with it as they wish. Typically, the money is given either to the office’s chosen charity or used to treat the office staff with a Christmas party, all of which is tax deductible."
The guys ensure that what goes into the box represents the best of British produce, “with none of those nasty ingredients that your grandmother wouldn’t use!”
“Set realistic targets, but every week set yourself one outrageous challenge!”
- Giles Mitchell, Office Pantry
Launched in 2014, Simone Kidner heads up PAPER Arts, a social enterprise with a mission to help long-term unemployed people get into the creative industries through training, workshops, industry talks, internships and work experience.
Young creative people, through PAPER Arts, can access things that are not easily accessible such as affordable studio and exhibition space or a high-quality, low-cost printing service.
Since its launch in Bristol, PAPER Arts has grown quickly, now employing eight people, opening a new independent shop called CoLAB, and taking on four work placements to help grow the business further.
“I wanted to support other young people through an accessible creative hub that helped them to nurture their creative ideas and turn them into enterprising projects.” Simone explains.
“The best part about running a business is the people that I meet everyday; talented young individuals with enthusiasm and the ability to do something amazing. It's good to support that energy.”
- Simone Kidner, PAPER Arts
Founded in 2012 by two young entrepreneurs, Ryan Pasco and James Taylor, Angelberry not only adds to Bristol's thriving food scene, but is going global.
Initially inspired by a Californian road trip, where self-serve frozen yoghurt is popular, attracting a wide range of customers, the two friends undertook extensive research in the US and in the UK before launching.
Angelberry sells fat-free frozen yoghurt made in Italy. They offer 10 flavours and over 35 toppings and provide a self-serve experience for customers, placing them ahead of the competition.
Ryan says, "Not only are we more fun, but we offer more flavours and more toppings than anyone else. Customers really can create their own masterpieces!"
With two shops in Bristol, the guys were open to franchise opportunities from day one so when they were approached about a franchise in Mauritius they agreed. Since then they have also secured a franchise deal to launch 80 stores across the United Arab Emirates, a cinema franchise in South Africa and are in talks with partners in India.
"Always say yes to opportunities, then figure out how you will do it afterwards. Helps to keeps things interesting."
- James Taylor, Angelberry
Need help with your business plan or need some guidance to help your start-up succeed? If you’re unsure where to start with writing your business plan, or you want to make sure your plan is investment ready, book a place on one of our popular business planning workshops and our experts will guide you to success. View dates.