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Starting a Business with Samantha Harland

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mo and Allegra talk to Samantha Harland, Programme Manager of the BRITE innovation scale up programme at Plus X, about how to start a business. What makes a good entrepreneur? How can you future-proof your business? And how can we get a wider variety of founders to get their great ideas noticed? 

Plus the latest What Fresh Hell Is This? report. 

Hello and welcome to the re imaginationof work podcast this is podcast. Will we help you to re? Imagine the world ofwork to include everyone and hopefully challenge some of the assumptions thatyou have about the world of work. I'm O Changer, one of the CO creators ofwatched this space and we are at plus x innovation hub today, it's lovely hereand I'm delighted to have with me a Legro Chapman and one of the other cocreators have watched this space, hello, Allegra, hello, how you doing my good?How are you today yeah really good? Thank you good good, and we aredelighted to have with us today so anther Harland from plas hi, hello,good, to see you. How are you today yeah really good? I really excited tobe testing out the new podcast sweet yeah, guys it's exciting yeah. I feellike if we're in some sort of space age thing with the three of us here testingthis out: it's really cool good stuff. So, Sam today's theme isabout people who start businesses and how to start businesses and how we canhave moral people starting businesses. That's really what we want to talk toyou about today. So, first of all, it be great if you can just tell us a bitabout yourself and your role here, yeah of course, so my role is the programmanager for plus Ex Brighton, one of the programs that we've run here. It'san innovation program called bright standing for Brighton Research,Innovation, technology exchange quite a mouthful, so we call it bright forshorts. It's run in partnership with the University of Brighton andthundered through the European Regional Development Fund, so predominantlybright to set up to help businesses in the local coast capital region to scaleup through inovations great, and you started all of this. Ithink you started your roll. Didn't you during look down yeah and the yeah thecenter open, then. So I think what it's be really interesting for us to hearwhat you think about business activity and what you think driving activityyeah. So yeah. As you said, our team all really started. I think itwas February last year. So just when everything was starting to kick off,the building had not yet opened so yeah. We were really in the thick of it whenwe actually did open around may jude time, but saying that we've had a reallysuccessful year, replie, so we're in invasion, herb seven stories ofofficers and co working space, lovely roof terris as well. Might I had andyeah we've had lots of businesses come to us because lot, downs being reallytricky for a lot of people. As we know everybody's in different situations,you know kind of family and I for one, have had those struggles myself. Sowe've seen a lot of people come to us not only for space, but also forsupports business support in terms of scaling during kind of really you knowchallenging times, and how do you innovate in these times and what we'veseen is. Quite a few businesses really take an opportunity out of thesechallenges and pivot. What they're doing and actually some businesses haveseen more success coming out of lock down than others, and I guess it'sdepending one on Harwell a business as pivoted, but also it comes down to alittle bit of luck, sometimes of what the business is working on and actuallyyou know with everything that happens with kind of different crises. You knowin different years. Sometimes it falls in your favor and sometimes it doesn'tso, unfortunately, for the events industry, it's been really challengingbut saying that on the bright program, I think it's about kind of, like thirtypercent of our businesses are associated in the events industry andhave done really really well so yeah there's been a lot of kind of mixedstories, but over all we've seen some yeah really good successes. It's sointeresting to hear that, because it's it's difficult, because when you readnews stories, it's kind of doom and gloom actually in reality there allthese businesses that have started up.

So it's quite interesting to see thecontrast I mean I don't have the starts with me right now, but there are somereally interesting starts around how many people have started businessesduring lot down. I think it's helped. People really understand what'simportant to them, what they prioritize. You know the court kind of hold thecommuting up to London and doing kind of a nine to five job hasn't work forsome people, so they've taken their hands to starting a business andinnovating, which is really great and also for some businesses. You know thatmaybe they weren't happy with the way they were running their business orthey become disillusioned with their kind of vision or where they were going.It's really helped those businesses as well to reconsider, what's important tothem and here at plase, where big advocates for sustainable and creatinga better planet. We have a new program called the better world collective thatwe're running, and it's helped a lot of businesses come to us and talk moreabout kind of how they can be moms, sustainable and how they can thinkabout growing a team in a sustainable way. And when you talk about these founders,of course, a leg, and I do a lot of research as well on founders ofbusinesses and the demographic of those people, so allegro interested to hearwhat you think about that yeah. Well, so it's like, shall I get my starts outbecause I've got get Awa. I love a STAP. Well so we've talked about this quite abit and regular listeners to the podcast or probably heard me say thisbecause it's my favorite, that's quick, but there are currently more cos in thek called Peter Than there are women and more fifty one hundred companies in theUK are led by men named Dave, then by people of Color, which is prettyshocking, and I think you know one of the thingsthat we're really interested in is kind of getting more different peoplestarting businesses. But at the moment it is predominantly White Manton who start businesses andand it's white men he get the funding. It's you know the I think t e theaverage is is you know, white man in his FIS is the most likely person toget to get funding to start a business which is a difficult place to be in,and is that a trend that you you see or is there more of a mix in the kind ofcompanies that you're working with yeah? Unfortunately, that that is that doestend to be? The case is that I see I've worked with a number of entrepreneursover the years on different programs in different spaces, and it does tend tobe that you get more applications from white males than any other group andalso when it comes to investment. Even if you have a diverse co, hot on asay, an accelerator program, it tends to be more. The white males that aregoing for investments- and you know part of my role- is all about trying toencourage other groups, especially women's have the confidence that theytoo can go for investments and putting them in touch with mentals and rolemodels that have been there and done it to show them that it is possible and alot of the time from my perspective is about confidence and self belief. Ireally do feel that women sometimes really struggle with getting kind of past some of thesebarriers. You know kind of how they see themselves and some of the May bemisconceptions around investment as well, and what that means- and we'vegot some really great examples of female founders. Here, a plase who arerunning businesses really successfully and doing it in a way that suits them.You know they're able to have a family they're able to run their business.They kind of have have it all, as they say, they're not compromising either,and so I think it's for us here. A plase is really about show casingexamples of these types of businesses that are doing things a little bitdifferently so that others can see that it doesn't have to be so kind of blackand white. Last year we ran a series of buntscalled trail, but blazing women, which was all around kind of show,casing diversity in different. You know...

...kind of ethnic groups and differentages and different genders to really show case yeah that exactly that you know you caninnovate and you can start a business in lots of different ways and are there any great examples oflike unusual businesses that are started out doing really differentthings? Yeah? So I mean there are some thatreally stick in my mind that I've been working with recently. You know I kindof work with a lot of different businesses: Lots here, lots ofdifferent ideas all the time. So it's always a question I get of which one isyour favorite, which one's the most innovative, but sometimes it comes downto the stories behind the businesses really that capture my attention. So we have a company on bright at themoments votch, who are making an alternative to leather, what straps outof pineapple skin and apple skin and they're, actually working with apple onthe apple skin ones, which I thought was really good, and some of thebusinesses that were working with they've done really being reallysuccessful over lock down is kind of an AR company. So thinking about how doyou sell more products during lock down if you'll say a retail brands or a makeup brands or jewelry brands and they've been working with retailers to help consumers? Basically try on that aredifferent products and they've had loads of success. They're calledperseptable, so yeah, it's been really exciting to see how businesses have youknow kind of turned things, as I said, to their advantage during a lot down, but yeah sounds fascinating. Like yourrole getting to see all these different business ideas, it must be brilliant tosee all this creativity yeah, I'm still trying to find yeah, I kind of one formyself. You know when you work in innovation and start up you're, alwaysthinking. Oh, maybe one day, you know I'll come up with a project but yeah Ijust actually prefer just helping other people with their ideas. I think yeah.I could never. You know, make a decision on a businessidea. There's just too many. Do you think there is a kind off aparticular person who, because we may e e talking about the the kind oftemplate of what a founder is, and then people tend to think of this kind ofyou know going named day. It is fortis. Do you think there is a particular typeof person that is is good at starting businesses, good at running businessesor not yeah, a really good question. I thinkthe success of a business really does come down to the person, not thebusiness idea, so you could have the the best idea ever. No one else hasdone it, it's really innovative, but if you as a person, you know don't have kind of what ittakes to persevere in the worlds of entrepreneurship, and that comes downto a lot of different things. So it comes down to creativity, resiliencehaving a growth mind set. So you know not everyone's going to loveyour business idea, you're, going to probably get a lot of people,especially in the beginning, being very sceptical. Maybe you might get familyand friends behind you, but others might not believe in it, and you reallyhave to have like a lot of self belief and to persevere and see it through andthen, when you start getting tractor and then other people are like. Ohactually, that's a really good idea. So you have to have a lot of belief andthat can be really challenging in the beginning and one advice, piece ofadvice that I give to people starting out is to join either kind of groups orspaces like plase or it might be kind of an online group or anything reallywhere you're sharing your experiences with us with others and like learningfrom others at the same time, because I think unless you have that reallystrong support group, it it's a quite a lonely place to be, and it can show youagain like I said, like the diversity and the range of people. So you don'tjust think it's Dave. You know, because that's what sometimes the mediaportrays, but when you actually start going to some of these groups, there'sgroups just for women as well. A great group called Thrive, which I'm surewe've all have been to thrives meet ups, which are really good to yeah to kindof support each other...

...great. Well, we've got lots one to talkto you about before we do, though we are going to go to Allegra for the.What fresh hell is. This report, thank you mo welcome to this month.What fresh hell is this, this week, the government released itsplans to combat the very serious problem of voter fraud in this country.At the last general election, there were a staggering twenty eightallegations of vote fraud and one conviction. Clearly this isunacceptable, so the government is introducing plans to require everyoneto have fatal idea in order to vote now, a driving license cost forty threepounds and a pass, but is a monime of seventy five pound. Fifty nine point:five million people in the UK currently don't have a pass put and nine milliondon't have a driving license. That's twenty four percent of voters. Ofcourse, it's just a coincidence that just under sixty percent of people whodon't have a driving license vote labor. The e you settlements scheme is due toend on the thirtieth of June, and the Home Office has a backlog of more thanth three hundred and twenty thousand applications to get through before thatdate. Otherwise, these people will be left without documented legal rights toremain, but luckily we're getting rid of all those difficult immigrants. Nearly seven hundred junior doctors whohave been on the front line during the pandemic have been dropped from the NHS training scheme, a record level of applicants, combined with the lack ofopportunities to train aboard, because Covin means six hundred and ninetyseven doctors are now scrambling to find non training jobs. Meanwhile, an aches staff appleton withthe government to invest money to end a chronic lack of staff across theorganization, the strain of working and understaffed hospitals, combined withonly a one percent pay rise for stuff risks and Exodus of people from frontline rolls, but, thank goodness, we're getting rid of all this difficultimmigrants. Ay Tributes have been paid this week toform us on journalist John K, who died at the weekend age. Seventy seven, thesun described him as a swashbuckling reporter and the Pascoe referred to himas an award winning reporter. With a troubled past, the sun failed tomention at one thousand nine hundred and sety seven. He killed his wifetwenty seven year old, Hark and Pascoe said some said. His subsequent careerwas all the more remarkable given the breakdown he suffered on Osin hundredseventy seven and his conviction for Harry's death. I think we can all agreethe killing one's wife and then going on to break such stories as black twinsbeing born to a white couple and an advance copy of the Queen's speech istruly something to aspire to. And finally, a Chinese rocket has beenhurtling towards the earth as it broke up and at the atmosphere, and nobodyknew where it was going to land in a slight change from the normalpattern for two twenty, twenty and thousand and twenty one. The remains ofthe rockets haven't actually crashed into millions, ofh people and halflanded safely in in the Indian Ocean, so that something to be happy aboutback to you. No thank you allegra brilliant report, andso now, if we talk a bit more about businesses with the lovely Sam fromplus- and we touched on this in the earlier segment, we were talking aboutthe fact that founders of businesses are generally from the same demographic,and you know a lot of this comes down to support. So we talked about supportnetworks but really ingested to know kind of practically what support isavailable if you want to start a business, so you have a great idea whatnext yeah Goin, so my get top advice in thisarea would be to really have do some good research basically online, to findout the rights of port programs for you. There are so many free support programsout there. You know there's all this kind offunding and the programs that have run around the UK and some of them can bequite nice. So if say you, if you're a product base business, maybe it's aboutfinding a product accelerator. If...

...that's the right thing to you, but thensaying that and talking about diversity, there is a lot to be gained fromjoining a program that small broar and then gives you a perspective fromdifferent founders that run service base businesses that can have greatideas for products and vice versa, so yeah. For me, it's about definitelydoing your research to find out which one is right for you, because there'sgoing to be ones that are at a distance, so you could fit it around kind of. Youknow if you're still got a day job, but you're got a side hustle with thebusiness and they'll be ones that are a bit more flexible, maybe they'rerunning in the evening or the weekends or, if you have more time the ones likeplase that a location based where you get your support fully funds atincluded in the price of the membership so yeah. I think it really does comedown to the personal preference, but there's so many out there that yeahbusinesses can do quite a love research and find them. Unfortunately, I don'tbelieve there is one place at the moments where you can kind of findeverything out but innovate. UK is always a really good website that Isend businesses to to look for kind of grant, funding and support programs yeah yeah. It's that I think. That's alwaysthe baffling thing like. Where do you go? When you look for this informationyeah, it could be quite overwhelming yeah. I think yeah and Allegra for allthese people who are starting these businesses, who, as we know, are fromthe same demographic. So the piece of research that I read was that if you'rea founder of business that secures funding you're likely to be a white manin their forties living in the southeast, so to those people, what canwhat do you think they should do to help more diversity in organizations?And why do they need different people in their companies? Well, so this I we,if you follow some social media, you'll, probably see us talking quite a lotabout the importance of having diversity in your organization havingdifferent voices having different people, because if you only have onetype of person in your organization, you're only ever going to have one typeof thinking, one type of idea. So if you want different ideas and differentperspectives and the kind of innovation that's going to move your business onand help you to grow and develop and be ready for the next thing, then you needto be needs to be listening to different people and we need differentbusiness owners in the mix generally as well, because we need different typesof business. I mean you different approaches to different problems andyou need. I think, the pandemic really shame that that, when crises come up,you need different approaches in different ways. For thinking, and justone of any kind is never going to be helpful, so we need all these differentpeople and we need these different mixes and we need to be. You know looking to it to bring allthese. In a D- And I think it's the such cheap points in what you raise isone is kind of- if you are in a position of power, is helping peoplecoming through and the other one. Is You know? How do you if you got thisgreat idea, and you want to start a business? How do you kind of cutthrough and get get yourself hurt, and I think you know we talked a lot aboutmaking space for other people who aren't like you and challenging yourassumptions about people and trying to use your platform to help other peoplethrough. But then- and I mean this is my big great question for Sam is. IsYou know? How do you go about cutting through that noise if you are alreadykind of on the back for and you're somebody who is from an underrepresented group, but you've got this great business later and you want tocome thrue, but you know that you're less likely to attract the funding andattract the attention you know, what can you do to start getting your voiceheard and getting yourself in front of people an that's? The really tricky bitfor a lot of a lot of new founders M yeah. I think it's yeah. It's a reallygood point to make, and I would say that you know kind of growing yournetwork and finding a really good mental would help. So I think I'm amental for the girls network and they have a really great saying, which isyou know you can't be what Youu can't...

...see and I think that's where mentouring really comes into its own and it's the same. You know with any kindof I suppose. Area of life is thateveryone could always do with a great mentor to get to where they want to beit's the same with business. So I think it's about finding. You know someone that you identify withand thinking you know, they've done it and approaching them, and how did theydo it? What did they use? What lessons did they learn? What mistakes did theymake, because that you can gain a lot from people's failures as well as theirsuccesses, but yeah? I think it's. You know it's achallenging question. I don't think we've got all of the answers yet to youknow kind of help solve this, but I do think that learning from those that have managedto do it is kind of a really good place to start yeah. And I think it is reallyimportant that not to because we talk about this. A lot as well as is notputting the owners on the people who were in the under apions of groups tobe to be making the difference, because actually there's a lot of people with alot of power at the top of the tree. And it's you know it does takesomething from them to shift. You know he's getting these opportunities andhe's getting a friend of that, and I think that comes down a lot to the unconscious bias of just wanting tohelp. People who remind you of you and you know, being more kind ofpredisposed to people who were like you and you know all sorts of things aroundthat, and maybe some of the you know, assumptions that that people are making. So we do need people to make space forother people and not to see it as tokens, because I think there's adanger that people start to think. Oh well, that you know I we're givingsupport to businesses by under represented founders, it's just a kindof Tikopia, but actually to see the benefits to the wider businesscommunity and having all of these different perspectives and differentpeople in the room at the table, different ideas that you can learn fromor that will change the way that that business landscape is working and howyou know, having all these different ideas in the port in these differentapproaches and how much that benefits. Everybody M yeah. I think that's thething it benefits everyone actually as well. Not I SAM! I didn't know you werea mental for the girls now a yeah, and I think I think it's. The sort of themessage of the girls network applies professionally as well, so for peopleas their starting businesses or starting work. You know helping peoplealong the way, because it's amazing what advice you can give somebody yeahwho's. Just looking for ideas and advice, yeah definitely so one of the other things we talked aboutis future proofing, businesses and one of the great benefits of having diversepeople and having lots of different perspectives. What that can have foryour business. So what are your thoughts on that so yeah future Prefir? Well, most recently working at plase onthe bright program. We work with less with early stage businesses morewith those that are pre scale and scaling up and so recruitment for thesebusinesses is kind of the key challenge at the moment they're either making youknow on the one side, they're making, maybe their first higher if they're alittle bit earlier stage and on the kind of the other side, they're reallyscaling up so they've already got teams at kind of thirty and thinking aboutyou know kind of recruiting. You know they might have risse ured investment,so recruitment S, always a big topic and I think, in terms of futureproofing, especially around innovation. It just come back to you know,diversity and what we were saying about how having that kind of real, diverseteam of thinkers or bringing in different. You know aspects of their experienceput both personally and professionally, something that we've interestinglyintroduced at plase is a scheme called Bulls which is about tapping into thosethat live with a disability and getting them involved in some of the scalingstartups here, which I think is a great initiative, because there's so manypeople out there that identifies having a disability really lack. Confidence toyou know, get a normal in a verte...

...commerce job and we really thinkthere's a huge talent pool with with people that you know, maybe a hiding inthe kind of the shadows a little bit and bringing them into these companiesthat are looking looking for work. But I think it's all about education. So wedo a lot on the program about educating around diversity like when you'rerecruiting. You know and getting people likeyourselves in to do workshops, which you did a great workshop for us theother week about thinking about. You know when you're putting job ouverts ow.Are you speaking to more of a male audience without even knowing that afemale audience in your, therefore putting people off and it's thinkingabout you know when you're interviewing? How are you you know with the questionsyou are asking? Have you got any unconscious biasesthat are coming into play and trying not to recruit those that are already?You know, like you, like many versions of yourself and really helpingbusinesses reflect on you know their teams, have they just hired people justlike them and in terms of an innovation program. You know we're really allabout trying to help businesses be more innovative and future prove themselves,but I really do think that that comes back to having a really wide range ofpeople in their teams and not discounting either people that you knowmay have families or you know, have other things going on. Ithink there's you know. The future of work is a big topic at the moment andone of the things come out of the pandemic. For me, I think it's beenreally positive. Is All this kind of flexibility which is allowing so manymore people to do work that they never could before so yeah? I think it's youknow in that respect. It's really exciting, exciting times yeah. It'sinteresting. You say about the the recruitment, because I think we hear alot of people saying. Oh wait. You know I want see. I want to recruit someonewho's going to fit in with the existing team and what they mean is somebodywho's like the existing team and who is just going to get on with them, butactually you- I don't know if you agree, but we are constantly saying what youneed for innovation is somebody who isn't just going to agree with the restof your team and someone who's going to challenge you and get, I thinkdifferently. Definitely yeah and I can speak personally like plase. We are ascaling business ourselves going through our own journey to scaling upacross the UK, so we want to open twenty five hubs in the next five years,very ambitious and speaking of our own recruitment strategies. It is all aboutgetting that wide range of diversity in our own teams, so hiring people thatwant to challenge the state as quo. You know we all have like an underlyingvalue system- that's very similar, but in terms of the way that we think andare you know especially polite personality types, I'm a big advocateof hiring someone, that's very different to you, because why would youwant someone? That's just going to agree with you all the time. That's notgoing to push you outside of your comfort zone and yeah help so yeah yeah. It's that thing ofyou know a whole team that are all the same saying that all the products haveto be blue, for example, and someone different s like that kind is reallyoffensive to me and it's that they haven't thought about the wholepotential market yeah. Definitely so, yeah really important to have lots ofdifferent people and different ideas and Sam. Thank you so much that wasbrilliant, really interesting to hear from you and how can people find outabout bright, yeah, tellus contact e, so we've just launched up roun newwebsite, bright innovation, Co, dot, UK, where you can find out about a fourdifferent programs that we run a plase through bright. We also have a it's like a taster information eventhappening this Thursday, the thirteenth and we're going to run these on aregular basis. So if you want to come in and try out the space for the day,you can have a free trial as well as attending this event, where we tell youabout the innovation and the business growth support that we offer here, asincluded in the membership, so yeah just contact to us by the website isthe easiest way and we polar all of our events on there and just so everyoneknows: What's the website address, it's...

...w o bright innovation, Dot Coda you gay,brilliant great! Thank you! So much and yes, I think that's that's all! Fortoday it's been brilliant, really interesting to talk to you, I'm surewe'll talk again soon. We love being here at Plas X. it's a really greatspace, so this podcast udio is my favorite place in the wars. I'm neverleaving. The good drag me out. It's brilliant! Is it? Yes, if you haven'ttried it out yet do a book in a trial date plastic, it's really worth doing,and so thanks for listening, this has been the re imagination at work,podcast from watch this space, and if you want to find us, we all watch thisspace at UK and on social media. WE'RE AT WATCH THIS SP CE and we're also onYoutte to and you'll be able to find. If you go to a website, you can findall the links. So thanks for listening and we'll catch next time by.

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