BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) hosted an evening to celebrate the support of its business mentors at the Hotel Du Vin on Wednesday 28 November. Over 80 stakeholders of the Student and Graduate Start-Up project attended the event, including many mentors, professional services firms that have worked with the project, university staff involved in delivery and of course the new business founders.
The business mentors provide invaluable support to the new entrepreneurs as they set up their new business venture. They come from all walks of life, and work on a pro-bono basis, giving up around an hour a month to meet their entrepreneur.
Following a welcome from Paula Whitehouse, Associate Dean for Enterprise at Aston Business School and Dilshad Sheikh, Dean of the Business School at University College Birmingham, the audience heard first-hand from mentors Clive Poole, Andrew Collyer and Neil Herman and their respective entrepreneurs Francisco Menduni co-founder of South Guys Ltd, Antonio Jurjevic founder of Crotour Tourism Services Ltd, Hassan Qualqass founder of Simply Kreative & Alixzondra Samuda who founded her company Mudd by Alix. The start-up founders shared stories of how their mentors helped them to develop the ideas in their heads into real ventures. The audience enjoyed hearing about the variety of different ways the BSEEN mentors have helped their entrepreneurs from sharing valuable networks, giving timely real-world advice, boosting self-confidence and being a critical friend in time of need.
After the presentations the attendees enjoyed the opportunity to have a networking buffet dinner accompanied by the Mercian String Quartet, who started in 2013 with the support of the BSEEN project.
Carolyn Keenan, Project Manager for BSEEN said “It is important to us to celebrate the successes of the start-ups we have supported over the years, many of whom simply would not have got to where they are today without the ongoing support and encouragement of their mentors. It was interesting to hear from the mentors that the learning goes both ways, with the mentors describing how they benefitted from the enthusiasm and skills of their mentee”.
BSEEN, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund is a collaborative project led by Aston University in partnership with Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham and Newman University. Alongside the mentoring support the project offers an intensive 5-day boot camp, a small business grant, use of free office space for 12 months and peer to peer networking. The project is always looking for new mentors to support the new student and graduate entrepreneurs. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact the BSEEN team via the website.