Witness The Birth Of ‘Shout About’

THREE successful East Anglian entrepreneurs with a passion for celebrating Suffolk talent, have collaborated to create a ‘start-up lab’ for budding business leaders in the region.

Paddy Bishopp, Toby Durrant and Richard Croft have formed Shout About Suffolk, to act as an incubator for ideas and inspiration which may lead to new companies and social enterprises.

The ‘incubate and accelerate’ model, will support school-leavers, entrepreneurs, and ‘early stage founders’ through mentoring, practical support, planning and networking.

Their base, at Riduna Park in Melton, will house the Start-Up Lab and also The Hub, a social enterprise backed by some of the biggest corporate names in the region, such as legal firm, Birketts, and accountancy business, Ensors.

The Hub will provide an inspirational and cutting-edge environment for ‘one person’ business owners who want to collaborate and benefit from a  professional mentoring and support service which has been designed to give any business the help they need to grow.

Officially commencing business on 11th January, Shout About Suffolk’s incubator lab will support an optimum number of between six and eight start-ups at any one time. It will help ideas-ready individuals to navigate business strategy, early-stage funding, and access corporate partnership opportunities.

A bursary programme will also provide free 12-month membership to The Hub for up to 20 businesses, thanks to sponsorship by a number of local corporates.

Paddy Bishopp, who is also chair of the Food and Drink Fund for the Suffolk Community Foundation, said: “We are so excited about the creation of this unique concept in Suffolk, and can’t wait to start helping school leavers, business owners and inspired individuals to find their purpose and their potential.

“So many people have ideas for social enterprises or ‘solutions-focused’ businesses, which could make a huge difference in the world, but often they struggle with knowing how to take their idea forward or how to collaborate with the right kind of people.

“Our lab will serve exactly that purpose, helping some incredibly inspirational entrepreneurs to get going with their idea in a supportive environment.”

He added: “A particular strength of our approach, which truly sets the concept apart, is our pathway to investment.

“We are going to be offering up to £30,000 no-guarantee in a start-up loan form, and then have a pathway to ‘next stage investment.

“Our aim is very much to ensure that we’re helping make Suffolk-based businesses which come through our doors into investable and sustainable companies with huge potential.

All three entrepreneurs behind the lab, say they are keen to ‘give back’ within the Suffolk community, after successful business careers in their own respective professions.

Toby, who has over 20 years of operational experience and has both founded and managed successful firms in the region and beyond, says ‘collaboration’ is very much at the heart of their thinking behind the model.

“Too often, entrepreneurs and early-stage founders find themselves stuck in a home-study or at a kitchen table, procrastinating about the next best step, or wondering where they can get the niche help they need to grow their idea,” he said.

“Our concept ensures full collaboration, in terms of sharing ideas and challenges within the Shout About Suffolk incubator itself, but also calling on an exceptional panel of experts we have already signed up to be part of our delivery. We’ve involved a wealth of talent and expertise from across many sectors, and attracted so many Suffolk professionals who are only too keen to ‘give back’ as advisors.”

He added: “We’re so proud of the infrastructure we have ready for our new founders and firms.

“They will have full access to an exceptional IT system which gives them training in, and use of, accounting and CRM software – something many early entrepreneurs can’t afford to implement.”

The founders are marking their launch with the announcement of a one-off competition to find a person under 25 who deserves a place within the incubator programme.

More details about applying will be made available in the coming weeks, with the winning person set to be announced in the last quarter of the year.

Shout About Suffolk is based in a two-storey office on Riduna Park, which is a purpose-built business park on the edge of Woodbridge. Paddy believes it is the perfect setting for the organisation’s ‘home’. “Riduna Park is such an ideal location for our entrepreneurs, and also offers a fabulous modern environment which is great for thinking time and inspiration,” he said.

“We’re really injecting lots of our personalities into the décor, and reflecting Suffolk’s landscape too. Our incubator residents and guests will see murals reflecting Rendlesham Forest, plus a fabulous grass floor and plenty of write-on wall space.”

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