Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about Connect London for Entrepreneurs?
Connect London has been based on the most successful Incubator Without Walls (IWW) in the World and endeavours to identify areas of support that high growth businesses require to succeed – and find cost effective ways to deliver them.
What is special about Connect London for Business Angels and Individuals who are keen to assist high growth potential Entrepreneurs?
Connect London Champions is a member of British Business Angels Association (BBAA) but does not only focus on equity investment for cash. It encourages Champions to offer their services as Volunteer Mentors and also to consider becoming Knowledge Angels by taking a small equity stake instead of fees – for example to take responsibility for raising funds for the business.
What is an Incubator Without Walls (IWW)?
Most incubators offer physical space and although a physical unit is valuable for networking etc. it causes problems with sustainability unless the management are lucky to be granted a building without costs. An IWW offers all the support that a best practice incubator offers, but without t accommodation. Connect London fills this gap with strategic alliances with physical incubators and business centres throughout London.
How can Connect London be viable when it just charges £100 per annum for Membership of the Connect London Business Club?
Connect London will charge fees when it is appointed by the entrepreneur to obtain funds – and is successful. In addition Connect is supported by the very valuable sponsorship of major organisations who are keen to work with growing businesses and believe that some of these will eventually become paying clients. Connect London also will earn fees from delivering private and public sector business engagement contracts. Members of CLBC also receive extensive pro-bono support from Connect London Champions.
Why will connect London be successful when so many business support initiatives fail?
Connect London will work with public sector initiatives, but the main difference between Connect and most other initiatives is that it is private sector driven. The individuals behind Connect London have had extensive experience in starting new businesses themselves and helping others do the same and setting up business incubators and business angel networks.
Connect London is new – How can I better understand how it will work in the Future?
Review the websites of Connect San Diego www.connect.org - Connect Midlands www.connectmidlands.org or any other members of Global Connect – details and access from the Global Connect website.
If I join the Connect London Business Club (CLBC) am I bound to take up the other services, including the fee charging fund raising service?
Absolutely not. The members journey is in a number of totally individual steps and can be summarised as follows:
Fee £100 postponed to 1/10/09
Access to CL resource broker
Access to volunteer mentor from Connect Champions
Marketing of your products/services on the Connect website and other promotions
Networking and showcasing
Join Springboard Programmes (3 / 4 per year)
Seminars from strategic and sponsor partners
Coaching for presentations
Presentation to a specialist panel
Post Springboard review to decide next step
Use the services of Connect London Champions to raise funds for your Company – Angel Funding, Knowledge Angel Funding, VC, Enterprise Funds, Asset Finance, Debt Finance etc.
Use of Connect London Champions to expand their team with Knowledge Angels (Equity) and/or Interim Management (fee basis)
I understand that Lord Sainsbury has endorsed the Connect model. What is the background to this?
On October 5th 2007, Lord Sainsbury of Turville published his review of the UK science and innovation systems. The review examines the role of science and innovation in ensuring that the UK remains competitive in our increasing globalized economy.
The review included a strong recommendation of the Connect model. It was commissioned by Tony Blair in November 2006. Lord Sainsbury was the keynote speaker in the 2004 Global Connect Conference.
“Recommendation 9.5 Drawing on the success of the Connect scheme in San Diego – RDA’s should support services for entrepreneurs around our World class Universities similar to the Connect service”.
What criteria do I have to meet to become a member of Connect London Business Club?
We look for high growth business potential in all sectors. We define high growth as the ability to reach sales of £1 Million within 3 / 4 years and/or achieve growth rates of over 20% per annum.
I am interested to become a Connect London Champion but I am not certain that I will be able to invest cash in Connect Business Club Members. Can I still become a Champion?
Absolutely Yes! We believe that Angels invest a lot more than pure cash and that the Knowledge and Experience of an angel is worth at least as much as the cash, and perhaps more. We believe most angels offer pro-bono support and we want to highlight this area rather than it be left hidden. Champions can therefore offer to contribute by volunteer mentoring, acting as a knowledge angel, undertaking interim management roles, delivering public funded support initiatives and taking up ideas deposited in the Ideas Bank by entrepreneurs who are not ready or able to take their ides ahead. We also hope that some Champions will help run Connect London – on a pro-bono basis.
We are considering becoming a sponsor for Connect London. Will this prove a good investment?
Absolutely Yes! Connect offers sponsors a screened cost effective link with the high growth businesses of the future. Experience has shown that entrepreneurs do return to sponsors when their businesses are in the position to fully utilize the services of their sponsors. Connect also offers valuable links with an extensive range of organisations linked directly and indirectly to the business World, Universities, RDA’s Government, Chambers of Commerce, Public and Private Funded initiatives.
We are considering becoming a Strategic Partner of Connect London. Will this be worthwhile for us?
Connect London will endeavour to replicate the success of the British Library who’s strategic alliance policy has helped put them on the map. One of the big problems in the World of Business support is that the amazing number and variety makes it impossible for individual entrepreneurs to understand and follow. Business Link London have been contracted to help remove these obstacles, but it is essential that organisations such as Connect London also form links at the sharp end so that entrepreneurs can be guided to the right place at the right time. The Connect London strategic alliance policy is based on a two way flow of referrals with both sides maintaining a simple record of the number and result of these referrals.
How does Connect fit in with the Business Support Simplification Programme?
Connect London has been designed to integrate directly into the BSSP. It also follows the recommendations of Lord Sainsbury:
Setting up a holistic support service to assist entrepreneurs where they can get advice from lawyers, accountants, investors and fellow entrepreneurs in one place has the potential to significantly improve the success rate of start-up companies in the UK” – Rec 0.38 – The Race to the Top.
BERR has issued a list of 18 themes to be covered by the Product Portfolio and 11 of these are included in the Connect London support activities:
Business Collaboration Networks
Business Expertise for Growth
Capital Investment Grants
Financial Awareness and Capability
Shared Business Support Environments
Connect London also offers entrepreneurs direct referrals to organisations that specialise in other themes:- Export Credit Guarantee, Foreign Direct Investment, New Overseas Markets, Preparing to export, Resource efficiency, Waste Management, Skills Solutions, Protecting the Natural Environment. The International Network of Global Connect Members can support entrepreneurs who want to trade internationally.
- Being asked awkward questions until answers are given
- Providing an experienced insight
- Being challenged to think beyond the immediate day-to-day issues
- Setting specific milestones for agreed outputs
- Encouraging and driving you to agreed goals
- Translating theory into business reality
Mentoring is not
- Business consultancy in disguise
- Someone who will do all the difficult work for you
- Someone who will automatically “open doors”
- Interference and blocking
What benefits does mentoring bring?
- Working intensively with an independent person with extensive business experience with whom to share ideas
- A chance to look at the business as a whole
- An excellent way of using highly professional individuals to facilitate decision making processes which lead to solid results
What is special about mentors?
- All our mentors have grown businesses and also worked in corporates so they know both sides of the coin
- Very rigorous recruitment and selection process
- Our mentors operate within an agreed framework and code of practice
- Our mentors retain an active interest in business life
- Each mentor is carefully matched to your requirement
What makes the best mentor/business relationship?
- Appreciation on both sides of what mentoring is and isn’t
- Willingness to challenge and be challenged
- Willingness to work at it
- Determination to follow up on actions in between mentoring meetings