More than 50 aspiring young entrepreneurs from across south Wales spent a weekend at an intensive three-day residential Bootcamp event, designed to equip them with essential skills to make their business dreams a reality.
Big Ideas Wales’ ‘Bootcamp to Business’ event in the south Wales valleys at Rock UK Summit Centre, Treharris, was open to business minded young people aged between 18-25. All the attendees went through an interview process before being awarded a position at the sought-after Bootcamp, where they spent the weekend with established Welsh businesspeople and previous bootcampers who’ve gone on to run successful businesses of their own.
The annual three-day event, which ran during Global Entrepreneurship Week (12-18 November), featured a series of business workshops dedicated to expanding the knowledge of the young entrepreneurs, growing their network of connections and ultimately helping them to launch their businesses.
The 50-strong cohort who successfully earned their place at Bootcamp travelled from across Wales to attend, the majority them undergraduate students at Welsh universities. In October, the Economy Secretary Ken Skates announced the Youth Entrepreneurship grant, seeing students benefit from Welsh Government funding over the next three years, enabling universities and colleges to accelerate student entrepreneurship and strengthen connections, particularly with partners such as Big Ideas Wales, in order to support students on their way to starting a business.
Speaking about the event, the Economy Secretary Ken Skates, said:
“It’s fantastic to see such a talented cohort of budding entrepreneurs getting together to build on their knowledge and strengthen their business ideas. Our Economic Action Plan is committed to developing an entrepreneurial culture and I’ve been clear that an important part of that must be ensuring our students have the support and tools they need to take those initial steps to success.
“The number of students attending Bootcamp this year is testament to the inspiring Entrepreneurship teams within our colleges and universities, with this another excellent opportunity for students to gain confidence, learn from each other and draw on the valued experience of the Welsh entrepreneurs in attendance.”
Fellow young entrepreneurs who have previously engaged with Big Ideas Wales and gone on to start a business were also present to share their experiences with the new group of aspiring businesspeople. This included 19-year-old Callum Griffiths, director of Clydach Farm Group and ‘self-taught’ entrepreneur, from Ynysybwl.
Since utilising Big Ideas Wales’ services Callum has gone on to establish an animal nutrition and poultry business that is exporting worldwide from the south Wales valleys and employs a team of 12 across the company. Callum found his experience with Big Ideas Wales so beneficial that he has since become a Role Model for the organisation in order to pass on his knowledge and skills to his peers.
“Big Ideas Wales has been instrumental in my business journey. In fact, it was a presentation I watched at the age of 15 from another role model, John Bell at Pontypridd High School, that inspired me to turn my business ambitions into a reality. I’m glad to be able to pass on my knowledge to my peers now.”
Two Bootcamp attendees were awarded prizes for their efforts at the three-day event, including Mollie Williams, 18, an alumni of Gower College Swansea, who was awarded ‘Most Improved Bootcamper’ for her beauty therapy business. Also honoured at Bootcamp was Liam Purnell, 22, a student at Cardiff University who was named ‘Most Engaged Bootcamper’, nominated by his peers for his digital marketing business.
Big Ideas Wales is part of the Business Wales service to encourage youth entrepreneurship in Wales. Funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund it helps young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop business ideas and entrepreneurial talent.