Launchpad winners get down to business

London Met’s 10-week programme for business start-ups, Launchpad, has paid off for 11 successful entrepreneurs who successfully pitched their business idea last week.

Date: 3 September 2015

Launchpad, a programme run by London Met’s business incubator, Accelerator, helps aspiring entrepreneurs develop their business ideas through interaction with potential customers and real markets. From the first day, participants are pushed to test their products, interview customers and make contacts in their industries. 

Now, 11 impressive candidates have been selected to stay on and develop their businesses with Accelerator.   

“We had over 100 entries for Launchpad this year,” said Emma Thatcher, Creative Enterprise Manager at Accelerator.

“Twenty five of those ideas made it into the ten-week programme and 11 of them successfully secured ongoing support at Accelerator. We had some great ideas and we believe there’s a potential for them to grow into successful business.”

Sea the potential

Lorraine Gallagher, a BA Human Nutrition graduate, won Launchpad’s first prize of £1,000 in funding on top of the place in Accelerator. Lorraine’s project 'Sea the potential' is focusing on the production of seaweed and promoting its benefits. She’s bringing the project to life on her own and admits it can be quite challenging from time to time.

“That’s one of the reasons why is this programme so great,” she said. “There are people all around you, helping you to keep your head up and stay motivated when you’re having a bad day.”

According to Lorraine, Launchpad also helped her develop her business idea and provided guidance on her next steps.

“There’s many aspects to the running of a business and Launchpad helped me to break it down and focus on what I need to do, step by step,” she said.

“The most challenging part for me was to figure out finances, but resources here at the Accelerator are amazing and all the professional advice we got was invaluable.”

Lorraine is now focusing on growing seaweed on an Irish farm, saying the most important part now is to make sure it’s being grown properly.

“In the future I’d like to develop a product on the basis of leptogenic seaweed soup. But that’s in the future, we’ll see how it goes.”

Door opens to great ideas

Catherine Hart, who graduated this year from BA Jewellery and Silversmithing, says the programme helped her to go out, meet different people and network. Catherine designed a line of body jewellery and is currently working on its promotion.

“During the programme I was able to create a contact list which is key for me right now in developing business partnerships and customer base. If I didn’t have the opportunity to take part in Launchpad, I wouldn’t be able to progress as quickly,” she said.

You can see Catherine’s designs at www.cathartjewellery.com.

Another successful idea came from Aura Verene, graduate in BA Fashion Marketing, who set up Blogger Stash - an online market platform for bloggers.

“I was blogging during my studies and would sometimes find I needed to clear out my wardrobe because of the amount of clothes I accumulated,” said Aura. “I wasn’t happy with the current marketplace and selling platforms out there and decided to come up with one myself,” she said.

“We’ve been working on the development of the website with my two other business partners Kevin Malambo and Frederick Ishola. I’m really excited about launching Blogger Stash this September.”

Impressive pitch

Participants of this year’s Launchpad programme have certainly left a good impression on the judges.

Mikael Lauharanta, a founder of Smarp, a platform for employees which allows them to share news from their workplace on social media, was impressed with the advanced market research and product testing of some participants.

Kiki Tang, who graduated in BA Jewellery and Silversmithing, pitched her jewellery line which was already available on the market. You can see her collection at www.kikitangjewellery.com.

“Kiki presented the research she’s done in the UK and Chinese market and brought along samples of her jewellery for the presentation. She also had some orders arranged already which was very impressive as well.

“It’s always nice to see that people are prepared and passionate about what they do,” said Mikael.

There were many more successful start-ups, some of them in a much earlier stage than Kiki’s, in the Launchpad mix.  However, a thorough understanding of their market and careful testing of the product was what gave them a golden ticket to the six months of mentoring support and free office space that they will now receive with Accelerator.

Interested in taking part in the next Launchpad programme? Or simply want to know more?  Head to the Accelerator website.