Business News Wales talks to Rony Seamons, Manager at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator in Cardiff, about why entrepreneurs in Wales should apply to be a part of a programme that has already helped over 350 Welsh businesses reach the top.
Tell us about the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme in Cardiff.
The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator opened in 2016 and since then has helped hundreds of businesses accelerate their companies so that they have a stronger customer base and higher turnovers and profits. The accelerator takes in two cohorts of 80 entrepreneurs each year – one in April and one in October. Depending on what stage an entrepreneurs business is at, successful applicants will be offered a place on one of two programmes – the intensive, eight-week Pre-Acceleration for early stage start-ups, and the six month Acceleration programme for high growth businesses looking to scale up. Entrepreneurs can progress through this programme up to a maximum of three times, making 18 months in total.
Why should an entrepreneur or business in Wales apply to be part of the programme?
That’s a great question. Well, it takes only ten minutes to complete the application form, but that’s ten minutes that could change the future of your business forever. Being an entrepreneur is arguably the toughest career a person can choose, but we help entrepreneurs work on their businesses and not in them. That’s what drives success and is why over 80% of businesses that have been through the programme are still operating after two-years and more importantly are achieving growth and success.
What kind of businesses have come through the programme?
We’ve worked with over 350 businesses so far from start-ups and SMEs right through to more established employers with multi-million pound turnovers. Crucially, with all of these businesses we’ve helped them to develop so that they achieve more. It’s a very exciting place to be with lots of sectors coming together under one roof. We’ve worked with entrepreneurs in artificial intelligence and software services right through to fashion, retail and healthcare. There’s been some great success stories; businesses like Amplify who are now a market leader in digital innovation. Many others have grown to become leading brands in their own markets or trading on a national and international level.
What does a person and their business get from coming through the programme?
The programme provides successful applicants with tailored coaching and support, access to multiple networks including funding, and office facilities at our Cardiff headquarters – all fully funded by NatWest. But it’s how we go the extra mile that really helps businesses. We focus on people’s mind sets and help them become entrepreneurial leaders. And we open doors, which is hugely invaluable. There was a company on the programme who told us they wanted to meet with DHL. A week later they were sat in their offices in London. Network opportunities like this are priceless, but from our perspective our passion is just as important. We want to help businesses on the programme become bigger and better and reach their potential.
Do you have to bank with NatWest to apply?
No, not at all. This is purely about us helping a business reach its goals and grow as a company to bigger and greater things. You don’t have to release any equity from your company and you don’t have to pay any costs. The programme is fully funded by NatWest and open to businesses from across Wales. We have entrepreneurs from Bangor to Pembrokeshire; there are lots of talented entrepreneurs out there and we want to help them.
What would be your final message to those thinking about applying for the programme?
The accelerator really could transform your business. It’s a unique opportunity to be in a setting that brings together some of NatWest’s brightest and most experienced business professionals to help your business achieve its true potential. In our latest cohort we’ve helped one company increase its turnover to £25m. That could be your business next year so what have you got to lose?
The closing date for applicants is August 15. Visit https://www.business.natwest.com/business/services/accelerator.html for more information or to complete the online application.