Infectious Entrepreneurialism: Shout about Suffolk
Cast your mind back to the days of careers advice sessions and embellishing your CV with every paper-round or dog-walking job you’d ever carried out.
How many times did your careers advisor ever look you in the eye and tell you straight: ‘You’re an entrepreneur in the making. Let that be your future’.
Chances are, for most of us it wasn’t a common occurrence, and those trusty advisors were hoping we’d pull off a string of A-C grades and find our way into a well-trodden career path which was rather more ‘steady’, than ‘sensational’.
Perhaps then, it’s little surprise that it’s taken a few less conventional self-made successful Suffolk business people, to be the brains behind a new start-up entrepreneurs’ lab facility in the region.
Indeed, Paddy Bishopp – known to many as one of the founders behind the Paddy & Scott’s coffee brand, and Toby Durrant – another serial entrepreneur who, following the successful sale of his business abandoned the city-working slog many years ago to grow smaller businesses in East Anglia, both confess they performed ‘pretty poorly’ in their early
The two of them, together with businessman and Suffolk-lover Richard Croft, opened the doors of their new ‘baby’ Shout About Suffolk, in the first weeks of January this year.
The premise is that the three are able to offer entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups a combination of mentoring, collaboration, advice, contacts, and, in some cases, critical funding for their growth plans.
Paddy explains: “There’s no doubt in my mind that entrepreneurialism is infectious, and to be applauded.
“We don’t all set off on the same path in terms of our approach to academics and career growth, and some, like myself, are naturally better at being ‘hands on’ and conceiving ideas.
“While I loved school and sport, I struggled to focus in a classroom environment, so discovering the ability to be on an entrepreneurial journey of my own making – well, it was transformational.”
“This has rested with me throughout my days running various businesses, in a county I adore, and then the opportunity arose to be able to have a conversation with some other equally passionate entrepreneurs, about how we could help others achieve their entrepreneurial dream.”
Toby, who, like Paddy, has grown up in and around East Anglia, goes on, “we created Shout About Suffolk to encourage and support either want-to-be entrepreneurs in taking the leap of faith necessary to create their own business, or businesses which are in their very early stages and who now need some nurturing and capital to get further.
“Stepping into the world of running your own business is not an easy pathway to follow but can be immensely rewarding when you get it right,” he says.
“Paddy, Richard and I have all chosen the independent route and had our fair share of highs and lows – experiences we want to share with our Lab or Hub residents to give them the best start on their journey to becoming entrepreneurs.”
So far in the Lab, the likes of Salubrious Sauces has taken its place.
The company is run by condiment entrepreneur Jim Fennell, who has already released a range of five sauces, including his popular Breakfast Sauce and Chip Shop Curry flavour, and has more to follow.
The Shout About framework is helping him to build his brand and achieve the national outreach his product warrants.
But more than a mere ‘start up lab’, there’s a rather unique element to Shout About Suffolk, which is ensuring every single business owner or existing company manager, can be involved in the journey of our region’s developing entrepreneurs.
In addition to the Lab offering spaces to a limited number of ‘full service’ support places, complete with investment and one-to-one mentoring, it also has a social enterprise concept, through which it provides 20 individuals with a ‘Hub’ place.
“Our Hub is such a great opportunity for our entrepreneurs in the making, but also for businesses out in the community who want to be involved in helping someone grow and succeed,” continues Paddy.
“It means, that for an annual sum of £4,800 (£400 monthly), a person who might just be starting out, or has been working from their kitchen table and needs more collaborative space to progress, will have their seat ‘sponsored’ by an existing business or brand in our region.
“The individual is being ‘paid for’ by a company which really feels passionate about the idea of entrepreneurialism being infectious and being at the heart of what will make Suffolk such a success in the short and longer term.”
Toby adds that the interest from corporates across the region to become involved as sponsors and mentors, has proved encouraging from the outset. It has already provided help to businesses in the sectors of fashion, food, and tech.
“We’re delighted with the interest so far and urge every business owner to get in touch about the role they could play,” he says enthusiastically.
“Likewise, we’re still after hearing from more budding entrepreneurs and start-ups who want to come and join our community and accelerate their dream for a great business.”
At its core, Shout About Suffolk is already, very clearly managing to live up to its deliberately chosen brand identity.
For one, it’s Suffolk and proud.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s setting out to be a business – with a social enterprise – which encourages everyone to be positively ‘shouting about’ the many virtues of living and running enterprises in our county.
“Entrepreneurialism doesn’t need to stop at a particular age, and that’s certainly been reflected in the fact we’ve seen people from 19 to 69 coming through our doors with ideas,” Paddy says cheerily.
“And what connects them all?
“It’s that they love Suffolk, are proud that they want to run and grow a business here, and that they want to make a difference within their East Anglian community as game-changers, innovators and brave creators.”
So far, Shout About Suffolk already has a number of Lab entrepreneurs. These include Salubrious Sauces, Halo Oil, Tipll and Niche Cocktails. Corporate sponsorship for Hub places has so far come from the likes of Birketts and Ensors and plans are in place for Shout About to have its own designated kitchen facility, which will launch soon. For more information about Shout About Suffolk, go to shoutaboutsuffolk.co.uk.
Photo by Warren Page: Pagepix