Supporting the next wave of entrepreneurs

April 2, 2019

Starting and growing a business is tough, which is why Sunderland Software City is supporting North East entrepreneurs to overcome the hurdles

Feeling inspired to start a business? You’re not alone. The last few years have seen a rise in the number of people starting a business across the UK, and the North East is no different . With stories of fast growing scaleups, billion-dollar valuations and high-profile founders making mainstream news, it feels like there’s never been a better time to take your idea and turn it into a reality.

But starting a business – and more importantly, growing it into a successful, sustainable company – can be difficult. While the UK scores highly in terms of the number of startups created, we don’t make the top ten countries for businesses growing into established mid-sized companies. From the point a founder comes up with the idea for their business, they begin a journey that can be filled with challenges.

The team at Sunderland Software City (SSC) are more than familiar with these challenges. With a ten-year history of working with digital and technology businesses, they’ve been on this journey with entrepreneurs hundreds of times. It’s why SSC offers a range of support services designed specifically with digital startups in mind.

Jeni Banks, business support specialist at SSC, works closely with startup founders to help them overcome the hurdles they face.

She says: “There are a few key challenges that we see time and again when people start a business. These include having a great idea, but not the technical ability to build a new digital product; having an improved offer but not knowing how to make it stand out in a crowded marketplace; and dealing with the change from being an employee somewhere, to suddenly being the boss and having to wear lots of different hats all at once.”

To overcome these challenges, SSC offers fully-funded support to companies in the North East LEP area.

Jeni continues: “For founders that come from a business background, the first thing they usually ask about is technical support – they want something developed but don’t know what it needs to look like. Our technical specifications give them access to an impartial developer, who will help them map out what functionality their platform, app or website needs.”

For founders looking to ‘disrupt’ existing markets, or that simply want to offer an improved service, knowing how to reach their target customers is vital. SSC’s market intelligence and innovation road mapping services allow founders to work with marketing strategists, to understand how they can get in front of the right people.

“Whether it’s market research like focus groups, or understanding what channels and platforms to advertise on, founders get in-depth insights into the best approach for their company. Founders that are looking to raise finance often find the Market Intelligence reports particularly useful,” Jeni adds.

The final challenge is arguably the most complicated to solve – being a founder can be lonely, especially in the early days when they need to juggle multiple roles on their own.

Jeni concludes: “In addition to the specific services we offer, my colleagues and I are available to support founders with anything else they might need. Sometimes that might be business coaching, helping them to clarify their ideas, or it might mean sitting down and working through financial forecasts, or providing advice on PR.

“We want to make sure entrepreneurs know that they’re not on this journey alone.”

Sunderland Software City is funded by European Regional Development Funds, through the Digital Innovation Partnership. To find out more about the support available to your company, please contact Jeni Banks.

Sunderland Software City

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