by Jacob Kirkham, Business Advisor, Next Generation programme
The Next Generation project, delivered by Launch It and Enterprise Nation, will come to a dramatic conclusion on 26th May at the Next Generation Festival when 6 finalists will pitch for their shot at a total of £20k worth of prizes, including top prize of £10k.
My role on the programme has been to provide business advice to young people on an intensive bootcamp. 100 young entrepreneurs were selected from over 1000 applications to undertake this 12-week bootcamp providing 1-2-1 business advice, as well as skills workshops from fellow founder Henry Blanchard to develop their businesses and their personal competencies. Pitch coaching was also provided from leading companies such as Apple and Uber to prepare the entrepreneurs to pitch.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the entrepreneurs on the programme with the majority requesting continued support. The young entrepreneurs have emphasised the personal and empathetic nature of the support they’ve received, as well as the importance of the work Launch It does is for social mobility amongst young people.
Ellise Gordon, founder of See Me Stationery and Next Gen programme member commented “The Next Generation programme has reinstalled faith in myself and my business, as a young black female entrepreneur I feel supported and understood and can’t wait to use all the knowledge I have gained to benefit myself and my business”.
Aisha Jade, founder of Carisips Drinks and also a Next Gen programme member added “Young entrepreneurs who don’t come from money are at a big disadvantage, many schemes I’ve been on aren’t that helpful as they offer the same repetitive advice and have leaders who cannot empathise with their participants. The Next Gen programme and Launch It are different though, as well as funding they offer more than just textbook advice”.
Working personally with both Aisha and Ellise on their respective businesses, as well as all the other young entrepreneurs in my group, has been a very rewarding and inspiring experience. The personal and professional progress they have made in such a short space of time has been remarkable. This is a sentiment which has been echoed by all business advisors working on the project and is representative of all the young people that have engaged with the programme.
The young entrepreneurs have been working extremely hard on their pitches and are itching to begin the first round of the competition on 14th May. The amount of effort and enthusiasm displayed will certainly make for an exciting, entertaining and motivational finale on 26th May at the Next Gen Festival.
As well as the pitching, the Next Generation Festival– which is held at the iconic St Mary’s building in Marylebone - will feature talks from established entrepreneurs and business experts and offer young entrepreneurs the chance to network, share ideas and form lasting connections with their peers.
The event will also be covered extensively on the Launch It social media channels, with entrepreneurs from the programme taking the Instagram page for the day. Be sure to follow Launch It (@launchit_uk) on Instagram and check back here for a run down of the day and the results of the pitching final!