Last week saw our Digital Accelerator residential workshops kick off in Bournemouth. This 14-week programme is aimed at helping 8 SMEs transform their idea into a fully working product or business, via a series of intensive workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one mentoring sessions.
We asked Write Track co-founder and attendee Rebecca Evans to report back on her time at the inaugural event and share some thoughts on how small businesses can use expert guidance to thrive and take things to the next level.
To find out more about our Digital Accelerator programme, head here.
I’ve never been one for business slogans but the first thing I did after our first two days of Creative England’s Digital Accelerator programme was to write in big red letters on our whiteboard: Make something users want.
Helping aspiring writers
Our startup is called Write-Track and we offer a suite of productivity tools for creatives and aspiring writers of all types – our plan is to disrupt the creative writing industry with a new brand that brings it into the digital age.
So far, we’ve learnt a lot and achieved a lot. Hopefully, we’ve done a lot of things right but after two years on our own, we were reaching a stage where we needed more support and guidance to continue getting things right.
We were delighted to be picked for Creative England’s Digital Accelerator programme because it felt an ideal fit for us. Not only does the scheme offer some investment, it also provides support and business advice which we recognise we need.
When you’re starting a business – and especially a digital business like ours where you rarely come face-to-face with your users – it’s easy to forget to come up for air, get perspective and learn from others. We knew that we needed expertise in the right places and crucially, someone to challenge how we were thinking and what plans we had. And that’s exactly what we’ve got from the programme so far.
Down to work
Day one of the Accelerator saw teams from eight chosen startups assemble somewhat nervously in country hotel in the pony-strewn flatlands of the New Forest. It was amazing to meet and learn from the very different, but all very inspiring set of entrepreneurs – many of who face the same challenges as us.
Guided by business guru Steve Taylor, we grappled with a range of business topics from product-market fit to focusing on what users and customers want. Delivered though workshops and exercises, the sessions offered a great mix of practical advice and sage business wisdom. We also had the chance to have a short one-to-one session with Steve that was transformative in helping us to focus on what our core offer should be.
On the second day we learnt about the scary world of investment – how to pitch for it and how to attract it – and we started to build a roadmap of where we’re heading. The simple act of focusing on what we have achieved so far and what steps we need take over the next two years was enormously helpful. When you’re starting up it’s often easy to get overwhelmed with the scale of your ambition and the length of your to-do list – so this session really helped us focus – not on the next 50 things we need to do but one thing we can do to move the business forward.
So what’s next? The Digital Accelerator programme lasts until the end of January 2015 and whilst we know it’s going to be tough and involve us getting very familiar with the departure lounges of Leeds and Southampton airports – we’re sure it will be worth it. We’ve identified the next action we can take to move forward and we will have achieved it by our next session – in just over a week. In the meantime, we have our scribbled slogan to keep us company, keep us on track and keep us motivated.
Make something users want. That’s a slogan I’m not going to wipe out in a hurry.
Guest blog by Rebecca Evans.
- Business Support