Entrepreneurship has become a hot topic in the UK and it is being incorporated more and more into syllabuses across the country. Young pupils are encouraged to develop attributes commonly linked to entrepreneurs such as passion, determination, risk-taking, problem-solving, teamwork and creativity — all of which are extremely useful life skills regardless of the direction one takes. Student enterprise programmes continue to have an important role in inspiring young people to explore their skills and passions in alternative contexts. The traditional path that most people follow starts with a university degree and progresses onto graduate jobs, but entrepreneurship can offer young people ownership of their own future whilst still allowing the development of their full potential.
Young Start-up Talent is one of these initiatives paving the way for new generations of entrepreneurs. Over seven years, the project created by Lorraine Nugent and Matt Turner has helped launch over 50 successful businesses—a number that is only going to increase as Young Start-up Talent keeps growing. The initiative provides participants with mentoring and support along the way to the Dragon’s Den style final, where a jury decides the winner of a £50,000 prize fund. The competition is not the only way Young Start-up Talent supports budding entrepreneurs; they also work alongside schools, colleges and universities to provide entrepreneurial skills workshops. All in all it is a great project to be involved with.
Catalyst and Young Start-up Talent were a great match from the outset, as both have a similar aim in empowering young people at the beginning of their careers. My journey with them started during my second week of Catalyst, working from their office in Crawley, where I spent one day a week until this July. I was lucky to be part of an extremely fun and friendly team, which made the arduous commute to Crawley worthwhile.
When I joined Young Start-up Talent, the initiative was about to expand to two new regions in the south. Initially, my role only involved researching potential partners in the Chichester District and the Solent area, but as time passed my responsibilities developed. Reaching out to young people and encouraging them to consider entrepreneurship is an important aspect of the initiative, which is best attained through delivering workshops and attending careers events. In January 2016, I took on the task of arranging these events and spent hours working through spreadsheets full of contact details for schools in the Kent, Croydon, Chichester, and Solent regions. Contacting extremely busy teachers proved to be quite tricky at times, but luckily I picked up some tips along the way.
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and July was to be my last month with Young Start-up Talent. As I leave, the initiative is starting another year again bringing new people, ideas and talent together. I can sleep soundly knowing the events I arranged and the conversations I started will continue spreading the entrepreneurial spark, and the hard work of Lorraine and her team can carry on having a positive impact on the lives of many young potential entrepreneurs. I know how much time and effort everyone at Young Start-up Talent puts into their work and I looking forward to seeing how the initiative will evolve in the future.