Herald Scotland article, November 5th 2011, by Mark Williamson.
“ASPIRING business owners could get free expert advice with accommodation thrown in under a pioneering business support scheme that is backed by some of?the?country’s?leading entrepreneurs.
Serial entrepreneur Jim Duffy is looking for 25 people to join the Entrepreneurial Spark programme that he is launching with backing from multi-millionaires Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter.
A former policeman who developed successful pub and car valeting businesses, Mr Duffy claimed the initiative is the first of its kind in Scotland.
He said the Glasgow-based programme will be a hybrid of the incubator and accelerator schemes that help start-ups and developing businesses.
By offering quality office space with sophisticated IT systems and mentoring from seasoned money-makers, Mr Duffy believes Entrepreneurial Spark will be better suited to meet the special needs of people who hope to start firms or are in the early stages of developing them.
He claimed that incubators could be an expensive form of serviced accommodation while accelerator programmes tended to be targeted at firms that were already quite advanced in their development.
“Scotland needs to invest in its entrepreneurs, and while there are several organisations out there doing great work to encourage new business start-ups, nothing exists like this so far,” said Mr Duffy.
“We will help entrepreneurs take the germ of an idea, or a burgeoning enterprise, and give them the tools and close guidance required to turn that into a fully-functioning, profitable business which creates wealth and jobs for the Scottish economy.”
Mr Haughey said: “In Scotland we do not have enough start-ups and too many companies die in their infancy. Jim is challenging both of these things.”
He is offering fully equipped hotdesks and meeting space over 6000 sq ft at the Glasgow headquarters of his City Refrigeration business.
Mr Duffy said the programme will be open to people who want to start businesses or have recently started one. Participants will be selected through an interview process, in which a big weighting will be given to the personal qualities they display.
“If they come with the right attitude they can get a space,” Mr Duffy said.
He stressed that the programme will be completely free. People and organisations involved in delivering the programme will not take equity in ventures that are participating in the programme.
Successful applicants will be able to spend up to 360 days with Entrepreneurial Spark. It will offer a series of four intensive 45-90-day accelerator programmes.
In addition to getting advice from entrepreneurs, participants will get mentoring from staff at Boston-based Babson College, a leading US business school. This will be provided using the Skype videophone system over the internet.
Entrepreneurial Spark said Sir Tom Hunter made a “modest” financial donation.
Further?information?is available?on?the?website a href=”http://www.entrepreneurial-spark.com/”>www.entrepreneurial-spark.com.”