Are you a wannabe entrepreneur who wants to know about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and what makes a startup successful? The SPARKUP School for Entrepreneurs can help! SPARKUP is a collaboration between TechSPARK (yes, us!) and business incubator UBIC (University of Bath Innovation Centre) offering a new series of educational and motivational workshops perfect for people who have just launched – or are thinking about launching – a tech startup company.

They are also for more experienced business people wanting to supplement their business knowledge and learn from others in the tech industries.

“The benefit of other people’s experience when launching a startup is extremely valuable and can not only de-risk the process but be highly motivational”


rosie-bennettRosie Bennett, Entrepreneur in Residence at UBIC (pictured left), explains: “If you are in the early phases of launching or running a startup you will know that it can be a very challenging and sometimes unpredictable journey. You will also have realised that the benefit of other people’s experience is extremely valuable and can not only de-risk the process but be highly motivational.

“If you have an idea for a startup but don’t have the confidence to take it to the next level then these workshops could help with your business planning and market awareness… and you never know where it might lead!

“Being successful is about being prepared and planning ahead; it’s never too early to get advice”


“The majority of startups don’t make it through their first year. Fact. Being successful is about being prepared and planning ahead; it’s never too early to get advice.”

Each £20 workshop (or free to SETsquared members and students from the University of Bath) runs for 2 hours. As Rosie tells us: “We have lined up some top quality speakers and panellists to give advice, direction and – we are confident – some inspiration!

“Each session will feature talks by a combination of industry professionals and seasoned startup founders offering first hand experiences; and the Q&A’s will be a chance for you to personalise the session and get involved – so a great opportunity! ”

Upcoming workshops

The first three workshops will be covering:

Session One: ‘Funding for Startups’
10 – 12pm on Tuesday 19 May

shutterstock_100803718Raising finance for a startup is one of the first, and most significant, challenges that a new entrepreneur will face. It’s a crucial part of the startup process, whether you need money to develop your product, to get your first employee or to market your business beyond your first few customers.

This session will be exploring the options available to early stage companies including; crowd funding and peer lending, Angel funding vs Venture finance, grants and tax incentives.

Speakers and panellists will include; Chris Dyson from Ashfords, serial entrepreneur Glenn Smith, Nick East from Zynstra and Kirsty Ranger from IdeaSquares, as well as expert advice from ForrestBrown and BusinessWest.

Session Two: ‘Finding your route to market’
10 – 12pm on Tuesday 16 June at UBIC

Your route to market is all about identifying who your customers are, and differentiating yourself from the competition. If your startup is going to succeed it is because you know exactly how to reach your customers and the most cost effective way to sell them your product or service.

This session looks at methods and tools that can help you get to know your customer, low cost, high impact ways to generate demand in the market for your products or services, and the key things to think about when you are planning your branding and marketing strategy.

Session Three: ‘Building your team’
10 – 12pm on Tuesday 21 July at UBIC

shutterstock_218982760Building a team from scratch can be daunting and comes with responsibilities and pressures, but the right team is key; even if you think of yourself as a one-person operation, you’ll need a team of support people to help you. From contractors and suppliers to advisory board members and employees, each of these individuals can help make or break your new business.

This session will look at how to build an ‘investable’ founding team and covers the legal issues and questions about risk and reward. It will also cover the medium to long term and techniques to keep a team motivated and engaged in periods of uncertainty or expansion.

You can sign up for the SPARKUP School workshops here. The events are open to everyone and cost £20 per session and are free to SETsquared members and students from the University of Bath.

And, if you want to see and meet up with startups from the South West who already have something to shout about, don’t miss Venturefest Bristol & Bath on 9 June.