The Loop programme was launched earlier this year for tech startup founders in the South West. The 9-month growth programme aims to equip founders with exclusive access to a hand-picked panel of experts who focus on a specific area of business growth. From marketing to technology, Loop experts support the startup founders with practical and helpful advice.
After a difficult round of interviews, 7 companies were selected to be part of the Loop programme. All companies are at different stages but have one thing in common: Their appetite to grow their businesses.
To enable the startups’ growth, experts have joined together to offer support and host workshops for the entrepreneurs. Despite the need for social isolation, the experts have moved from The Engine Shed to the safety of Zoom and Slack to deliver content. Not only that, but regular coffee mornings have been organised for the experts and founders to chat openly about their businesses and support one another. This year, the experts are:
- Sandar Millman, co-founder of Affecton
- Nick Farrar Founder & Director of Workbrands
- Nathalie Alpi, MD and co-founder of CookiesHQ
- Nic Alpi, CTO and co-founder of CookiesHQ
- Alan Gould, Lightholm Consulting
- Roy Millman, co-founder of Affecton
- Tim Morgan, founder of SouthWestern VC
- Nick Dean, Managing director of ADLIB & TechTalent Academy
- Paul Hardman, Director of Gregg Latchams
- Joanna Randall, Founder of Purplefish
- Ash Wheeler, CEO of HdE
Both founders of CookiesHQ were invited to host a session with the 7 startup founders. Nathalie, MD of CookiesHQ, kicked off the programme with a session centred around product-market fit. The cohort mentioned that it was exactly what they needed and they were given the appropriate time to go away and feedback to her once they had implemented their new learnings.
“A digital product by itself is not a business, it’s just an app. For an app to be successful and generate revenue you need it to solve a problem, have a viable business model and a large market of people who need this problem solved. If you do not have all three, then your startup might survive, but it won’t thrive. So we then went through the steps that you need to take in order to find your product-market fit, in particular interviews and market research, and talked about prototypes and MVPs.” Nathalie Alpi
The entrepreneurs are all at different stages in their journey and therefore were experiencing different problems with their product-market fit. Some have been doing research for the past couple of years, some have an MVP up and running, others are only just starting. However, Nathalie stressed that for all of them, re-evaluating their core proposition with their target customers and business model in mind, rather than on its own, has been valuable.
For the second Loop session, CookiesHQ CTO Nic hosted an talk on MVPs from a tech perspective. Nic touched upon key topics with the entrepreneurs such as:
- What is a tech stack and which one do you need?
- What is the difference between web, mobile and progressive apps?
- When is your tech stack too much or too little?
- How can you manage developers?
- What can and will go wrong?
- What happens when you launch an MVP?
Each point was discussed at length with the Loop participants. For the participants who are at the research stage of their business, the main takeaway was understanding what to look for when they start to build their first product. For others who are ready to hire or build a team, the main takeaway was about validating their tech stack and making sure it aligned with the entrepreneurs’ goals.
“Over the past 9 years running CookiesHQ, I’ve seen a fair few products being developed. Some products we have built ourselves, others we’ve rescued from other teams, and some products we have seen built by others that we’ve admired. One thing is certain: Over these last 9 years we have learnt and adapted to the ever-changing landscape of innovative startups and tech.” Nic Alpi
This week Sandar Millman hosted the third Loop session with the help from James Kilford from Senta. Sandar is the co-founder of Affecton, a Bristol-based accountancy firm that helps tech startup founders in their journey. She hoped that by having James to share his experiences on how to build and scale a tech platform, the members of Loop gained great insights into all things compliance, R&D tax credits, how to make your business more appealing to investors and much more.
By the end of the 9 months, the members will have hopefully been equipped with enough knowledge, insights and mentorship to fully propel their businesses forward. Especially during this pandemic, community support for early-stage businesses is at its most important and also something that Bristol does so well.
“I remain available on email and Slack for the duration of the programme and I hope I will be able to join in some coffee mornings. I’d also like to keep in touch with some if not all of them, to see how their plans unfold. There’s nothing more exciting than a new startup reaching the market!” Nathalie Alpi
If you are interested in participating in next year’s programme, you can enter your details here. Applications close on 31st December 2020.