IncuBus Ventures: Rishi Chowdhury and George Johnston

After watching Huddle grow from the inside, IncuBus founders want to help young entrepreneurs grow their start-ups - this time from inside a bus

Name: Rishi Chowdhury and George Johnston
Age: 26
Company name: IncuBus Ventures
Number of Employees: 2
Location: Greater London
Date launched:  01/05/2014
Website: www.incubuslondon.com

Tell us what your business does:

IncuBus Ventures is a start-up incubator on a bus designed specifically for 18 to 25-year-olds developing high growth start-ups. The first bus launching in London is IncuBusLDN.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

After working with start-ups for a number of years, both my co-founder and I saw a lack of support specifically for younger entrepreneurs between 18 and 25. We wanted to support this group, which was also a demographic we were a part of.

When developing the programme, we established a need for personal development training in addition to offering knowledge and skills building in business and product/service. Considering much of a business’ ultimate success is down to the people running it, we felt it is important to have a focus on developing leaders that can manage and grow their start-ups beyond 10, 20, 50, 100+ employees. So that’s what we do too.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Through years of research and just by being a part of the start-up scene across the UK. I ran a media site for young entrepreneurs prior to IncuBusLDN so I was in contact with many young entrepreneurs looking for the same support.

What were you doing before starting up?

I worked at Huddle, one of UK’s fastest growing tech start-ups; so much so that they can’t really be called a start-up anymore. I looked after the online marketing and customer acquisition side of things, whilst my co-founder George Johnston also worked at Huddle as a sales engineer.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes pretty much. It was something I was interested in doing at some point in my future. Then after I graduated and started a job, I realised more and more that no job would satisfy me like the challenge and lifestyle that comes with starting my own business.

How did you raise the money?

Seedrs, equity crowdfunding. This was after initially trying and failing with a reward based crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Both great platforms, one just suited our business better.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We charge £300 a month per individual on the incubator programme. This includes desk space, mentorship, workshops, resources, introductions and personal development.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Raising finance has been a long and arduous process, especially since we’re not a super-sexy, scalable software start-up.

Many investors we spoke too were looking for quick wins, we’re here to build a solid business that is around for the long term – generating returns for us, our investors, and developing talent and helping create future big companies.

We worked hard, looking at different funding solutions and eventually found that Seedrs was right for us and proved that by quickly raising the capital we needed.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Getting some big partners on board like KPMG, Natwest, Rackspace and EE. This gave us some credibility, support and added confidence in what we were doing and ourselves.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Go seek out opportunities, don’t rely on others to follow up, make sure you’re in control and know your stuff (keep looking to learn and understand your industry in depth. Live it, breath it).

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Brazil! Nah just kidding; kinda. I’d like to see IncuBus Ventures expand to have buses in hubs across the UK and internationally.

Perhaps only a few in the first five years but the more we have the faster we can scale and the more young entrepreneurs we can help. Plus I’d be able to integrate my personal passion for travel and exploring of places I haven’t been before.

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