London-based businesses! Here’s what London & Partners’ Business Growth Programme could do for you

Since 2017, the programme has helped create 90 jobs and bring disruptive new products to market. We spoke to four of those amazing businesses to inspire you…

London is a breeding ground for disruptive, world-dominating start-ups and entrepreneurial talent.

What makes it such fertile ground for businesses? Well, a lot of it comes down to the high levels of support on offer.

Organisations like London & Partners, which has been offering tailored strategic support for businesses looking to grow in the capital since 2011.

If you have fewer than 250 employees, turnover below £40m, and are looking to grow within London, the Business Growth Programme can offer up to £5,000 worth of specialist support and impartial advice.

You’ll also receive a dedicated business growth advisor, local business support, and access to focused workshops and events in London.

To date, 215 companies have been through the programme, helping to create more than 90 jobs, and bring 30 disruptive new products to market.

We spoke to just four of those companies to find out exactly how London & Partners’ Business Growth Programme has helped them succeed. Read their stories and get inspired to fulfil your own growth ambitions…


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Botsandus

Even if you don’t realise it, AI is more-and-more becoming part of your daily experience. And companies like Botandus are at the forefront making robots that “seamlessly integrate into day-to-day life”.

The start-up combines social sciences with human-centred design and cutting-edge engineering to create human-robot-interaction technology, which it places into our daily environments.

Bo is the first iteration of this, an autonomous customer service assistant that can be used in retail, events, hospitality, travel and real estate environments. Consisting of a person detection system, an HD camera and touch screen, it can welcome and interact with customers, and help them to navigate and find products or areas.

Why did you decide to apply to the Business Growth Programme?

“Our key goals were to grow our network and knowledge through the workshops and the amazing alumni network. We also wanted to use the learnings to strengthen our pitch as we got investment ready by methodically going through our positioning, go to market strategy, sales pipeline and marketing plans.”

What opportunities did you access through the programme?

“We attended the workshops and mentoring network which were a great resource. We also attended some side events like the research and development tax credits talk which helped us a lot when closing our accounts.”

How have you grown since going through the programme?

“Investment wise, we closed an initial angel round as well as accessed an innovation grant. Our team has also expanded as well as our customer pipeline. There are quite a few learnings from the programme that we used towards these achievements.”

What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?

“Our key focus for the next 12-months is to grow our team by 80% so we can ramp up production and meet the fantastic customer demand we have.”

What would you say to another business thinking of applying?

“My advice would be to apply 100% – it is a solid programme with great knowledge sharing base as well as a fantastic community.”

Something & Son

Formed in 2010, Something & Son is a collaborative and activist led collective working across art, design, and architecture, creating diverse and socially environmentally driven work.

This work tours galleries and art festivals, and engages in real-life public projects in abandoned buildings or on the street.

Examples of its work are FARM:shop, which inspired urban farming across the world; and Makerversity, which provides low cost space and tools to its community of 300 makers . It’s also helped design a distributed honey factory that trains 150 new young beekeepers each year.

Why did you decide to apply to the Business Growth Programme? 

“I started at Something & Son in February 2018 and had two female-led start-ups to underpin and thought the programme would provide good networks and insights into entrepreneurial behaviours.

“Tracey Suen from 50m London (fashion start-up in Belgravia) and Monique Tomlinson from Peckham Palms (Afro Hair and Beauty start-up in Peckham), as well as me looking after the Something & Son community of companies, all attended various sessions and events of interest.”

What opportunities did you access through the programme?

“Business modelling, investment advice, mentors, ideas for innovation and problem solving and how to approach our start-up growth plans for each niche business.”

How have you grown since going through the programme? 

“I came from a background of charitable businesses with agile approaches to social change.  The programme showed me that my business growth and fundraising skills were easily transferable but also that I needed to tweak my approach for the social enterprises we are developing.  Also, Tracey was able to move from PM pre-start-up to Co-founder.

“What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?  To develop an investment package of at least £250,000 to underpin these new businesses and the wider groups of Something & Son co-founded projects e.g. Markerversity and Mission Kitchen.

What would you say to another business thinking of applying?

“Go for it, you have nothing to lose but time but it will be time well spent with people with similar thinking.”

Oddbox

Over a third of all food we produce gets wasted before it’s even left the farm, because it’s wonky, malformed or discoloured, despite the fact that it’s perfectly edible. A shameful waste.

Oddbox’s solution is to take all this surplus wonky produce and bring it straight to consumer’s doors for around 30% cheaper than the supermarket. It also donates up to 10% of its produce to local charities to help fight food poverty.

Why did you decide to apply to the Business Growth Programme?

“We heard about London & Partners from several other founders who mentioned the different programmes they were running and the huge drive from the Mayor’s office towards supporting start-ups.

“We then got in touch with them and talked us through the programme and we knew it would be extremely valuable and a great opportunity for now and for the future.

“Partnerships are so valuable and London & Partners work with several different partners which we can get access to.

What opportunities did you access through the programme?

“We got access to several workshops covering various topics including marketing, HR, funding. A few different team members attended the workshops and specifically we found the marketing workshops particularly useful for us as this wasn’t a strong area of expertise in the team.”

We also got access to mentors for any follow-up queries and guidance.

“Beyond the workshops, what is so valuable is to be part of the BGP community and be able to collaborate and get advice from other start-ups at different stages of growth and as an alumni, we continue to receive support from the programme which isn’t always the case for other programmes.

“In the future, I am sure that we will benefit from partnerships that London & Partners has developed and which will open additional opportunities for us.”

How have you grown since going through the programme?

“During the time of the programme, we raised our initial seed round which enabled us to expand our geographic coverage, increase our operations and grow our team from six to nine people.

“Our customer base is up by 37% compared to last quarter and we expanded to part of West and East London.

“We moved to a new warehouse and upgraded our operational capacity, installing a picking line and two bespoke cold storage rooms.”

What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?

“We have an ambitious plan for 2019 to expand to the rest of London and triple our customer base. We then want to expand to tier two cities and evaluate the opportunity to replicate Oddbox in mainland Europe.

“We also believe there is huge potential to use technology to bring more visibility on the amount of wonky and surplus produce available and therefore make these available to businesses who could use this produce.”

What would you say to another business thinking of applying? 

“We were delighted to be accepted on the programme, have greatly benefited from the three months support and continue to appreciate the benefit of being part of the alumni community.

“We would encourage any business to apply and make the most of the programme.

“Our business growth manager and the whole team at London & Partners have taken a lot of interest in our needs and ambitions and we are very grateful for the support we received and continue to receive.”

MeeTwo

Mental health and wellbeing are very much top of the agenda at the moment, especially among young people. And social media has had a part to play, contributing to rising levels of depression and anxiety.

But it also has the power to do good. MeeTwo is the app helping teenagers talk about difficult things. The user posts a message. A moderator checks all posts and replies. If the replies are unhelpful, they are rejected. If they are supportive, they are accepted. It also features in-app links to charities and helplines.

Why did you decide to apply to the Business Growth Programme?

“We met one of the BGP account managers at the Techpreneur Awards at the House of Lords in January and they encouraged us to apply.”

What opportunities did you access through the programme?

“The main benefit to us were the training events. I recall a particularly useful one on leadership for scaling.”

How have you grown since going through the programme?

“Yes. We have grown from 2,000 to 6,000 registered users and taken on four new members of staff.”

What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?

“Our goal is to raise £700,000 over the next two years so that we can meet our ambition of supporting 100,000 young people by 2020 and 500,000 by 2022.”

What would you say to another business thinking of applying? 

“Go for it. It’s a good way for new businesses to access useful training and make great connections.”


Find out more about the Business Growth Programme and its successes and apply to the programme here.