Sell out virtual Summer Start-up Week helps hundreds of students become real-world entrepreneurs

500 students, college leavers and graduates with entrepreneurial ambitions from across Wales took part in a free online Summer Start-Up Week to help get their business ideas off the ground.

The sell-out Summer Start-Up Week took place from 8th – 12th June and offered five days of inspiration, learning and networking to turn ideas into businesses, social enterprises and freelancing careers.

The Summer Start-Up Week was launched collaboratively by all Welsh colleges and universities to ensure young people separated by social distancing could join a virtual start-up community and continue to develop their ideas. A group on Facebook formed from Summer Start-Up Week now has over 250 like-minded members who will continue to support one and other through their business journey.

With a mix of daily live webinars and active Q&A sessions, the week covered relevant topics such as market research, finance, digital marketing and networking, helping participants to develop skills and gain information and contacts to turn their ideas into viable businesses or social enterprises.

The week drew on the business expertise of academic staff and featured experienced entrepreneurs and business experts, including Lee Sharma from cloud-based software platform Simply Do, Tracey Smolinski, founder and managing director of Wales’ leading independent business network, Introbiz, Town Square Spaces founder Gareth Jones and Katy Hayward from honey farm and education centre Felin Honeybees.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said:

“The fact this Summer Start-up Week was able to take place virtually during these most challenging of times is a demonstration of the exceptional collaboration which takes place between our educational institutions and our service providers.

“That it was also sold-out is a testament to the budding entrepreneurial spirit and flair our young people have here in Wales, even in these extremely challenging times.

“The event will have given students and graduates invaluable access to inspiring success stories and expert advice, as well as a valuable peer network for the future.

“I hope it helps all those who attended to realise their business ambitions now and for the future.”

Apprentice winner, Alana Spencer from Aberystwyth, owner of Ridiculously Rich confectionary business, featured as part of the entrepreneurial line up, alongside a host of Welsh entrepreneurs.

Supported by the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales service, part of Business Wales to encourage youth entrepreneurship, the week featured talks from the network of entrepreneurial Role Models. These business owners from across Wales shared inspiring stories and practical advice to help others understand the business start-up journey.

Role Model Callum Griffiths, from Ynysybwl, started his business, Clydach Farm while at school and his award-winning products now sell 300 stores in 12 countries worldwide

Callum said:

“This was an exciting opportunity for young businesspeople to learn key business skills that will set them up for developing their business ideas and hopefully launching their own enterprise in the future.

“I hope through sharing my experience of how Clydach Farm started as an idea that became the brand of choice for ethically sourced dog food helped inspire them to embark on their own business journey.”

Emma Forouzan, chair of Summer Start-Up Week:

“At universities and colleges in Wales, we see first-hand the exceptional entrepreneurial minds of many of our students, and we’re continually looking for ways to nurture and support those students with strong business ideas. In this climate, it’s important for ambitious young people with a business concept to think about their options and take time to learn from experts and the business support available to them.

“During the week I was impressed with active participation of the students, with 100’s of students at each session, they questioned, shared knowledge questioning and sought , sharing knowledge and gleaning advice from experienced business owners as well as linking into the fantastic introducing them to the start-up support network available here in Wales.”

Following the week students will speak with their assigned Entrepreneurship Champions from their college or university and access ongoing support and advice to help them pursue their ambitions.