Following on from the recent launch of Origin Workspace, we spoke to Head of Origin, Rob Hingston to get the lowdown on the new coworking space and its Origin Startup program as it enters latest cohort.

TS: Where did the idea for Origin Workspace come from?

RH: The premise behind Origin Workspace, in general, is to provide the community, counsel and support that Origin Workspace’s founder, Heather Frankham, couldn’t find when she was in the early stages of building her business.

It’s a really exciting time for Origin Workspace too; Phase 1 of our £9m renovation was recently completed and we opened at 80% occupancy. Founding members include a number of great Bristol based organisations, some who are already very established, like tech company Bud, who operate an apprenticeship management platform. And of course, our Origin Startup businesses will also be amongst the first to enjoy the new space.

TS: So, what is Origin Startup?

Origin Startup is a continuation of Origin’s supportive ethos, and a representation of how Origin Workspace is giving back to the local economy by providing facilities, advice, support and experience to help ambitious businesses get the best possible start.

Following the success of Origin Startup last year, we’ve been busy finding members for our next cohort, and most of the slots on the programme for 2019 are now taken.

TS: So it’s an accelerator programme?

RH: Yes, but we’ve designed it to be more flexible than a traditional accelerator programme. Origin Startup is right for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses who have an idea or the beginnings of a business, but need to develop a robust business plan to get them on the path to success. The programme has one goal: to help tomorrow’s business talent succeed.

Origin Startup recognises that one size doesn’t fit all and that every entrepreneur starts a business with a different set of skills and varying levels of know-how under their belt.

We seek to understand the strengths, weaknesses and experience of each entrepreneur and devise a tailored and relevant plan, which includes mentoring, coaching, workshops and training. 

TS: How does the programme work?

RH: Origin Startup limits intake to six businesses at any one time so that the utmost attention can be given to successful applicants. 

To enrol a business a £2000 investment is payable in four quarterly instalments, but the package includes 12 months of support worth around £18,000.

A dedicated Origin Startup Facilitator is the main point of contact throughout the 12-month period. Following a half day workshop at the beginning, the facilitator then develops a bespoke mentoring, training and coaching timetable for the duration of the programme. Weekly guidance is then given, where everything is broken down into manageable steps and targets.

Access to and meetings with our personal network of trusted business owners, advisers, sector experts and educators is also provided and of course our startups get dedicated desk space and access to all Origin Events held in the space. In addition, Origin Startup has strong relationships with investors and financiers. For the right businesses with the potential for growth, Origin Startup will make the necessary introductions. 

TS: What kind of startups have you been looking for?

RH: We want to support entrepreneurs who want to make a difference, from a disruptive tech innovation to any number of other sectors that will have a positive impact.  Origin Startup businesses need to be scalable and they need to be about purpose as well as profit – whether that’s employing local people, developing apprentices or putting some investment back into community initiatives.

TS: Is this only for Bristol Startups?

RH: Well, it’s not just for locals only! However, applicants have to base themselves in Origin Workspace in order to benefit from the connections and opportunities that can be made in our vibrant and engaged community.

TS: What makes Bristol a great place to start a business?

RH: Bristol is such a great place to start a business. In addition to Origin Workspace, there are a number of fantastic support networks for new businesses, which we’re also now collaborating with too, and there’s also plenty of opportunities for networking.

TS: What’s the grand plan for Origin Startup and what do you hope to achieve through the initiative?

RH: Success is subjective; Origin Startup does not dictate what success looks like. Whether financial or lifestyle based, Origin Startup’s goal is to simply help our startups achieve what they set out to do. However, we have some ideas as to how we might look to develop the programme over time… watch this space.

Geraint Evans