Start Up Britain entrepreneur praises Spark Up project

Jenny Stewart
  Enterprise champion, Kosta Mavroulakis has praised the work of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, in disrupting the norm with its inspiring business accelerator, Spark Up. The Start Up Britain campaign manager was invited to the Chamber, to learn more about the 12 week long programme, which has created more than £400,000 worth of investment opportunities for Liverpool’s start-up businesses in just two years. As well as hearing how Spark Up is helping to increase collective turnovers by 163%, and increasing employment opportunities in the local area, he also heard first-hand how the programme has developed some of this year’s programme graduates. Applications for the next programme starting in October are now open until August 23, with scores of entrepreneurs already putting their names and businesses forward. Kosta said: “There is no Chamber anywhere in the world, which is doing what Liverpool has done with Spark Up. Liverpool Chamber is a disrupter in the Chamber sphere. “Led by the inspirational Jenny Stewart and her passionate team, Spark Up is not just for Liverpool today, but for the Liverpool of the future, helping put the city on the map as one of Britain’s key entrepreneurial cities.” Kosta’s visit comes, as Spark Up founder Jenny Stewart leads a drive to recruit more than 40 mentors to take part in October’s programme. The Chamber CEO believes that Liverpool’s rich community of business leaders and supporters, are key to the success of the programme, helping to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. Jenny Stewart said: “Kostas visit, was a chance for us to showcase to the rest of the UK that what we are doing here at Spark Up has real, tangible value not just for the businesses and entrepreneurs, but for the city itself. The strength of our economy lies in our ability to foster and nurture new businesses and create a thriving and competitive environment. “We have already proven that there is an appetite to support start-up businesses in Liverpool – the investment generated from Spark Up speaks for itself. But if the programme is to be truly successful for a sustained period of time, collaboration is crucial. “Spark Up was set up to promote collaboration between new and existing businesses to allow them to drive each other forward to success – which is why mentors are so important. They act as supporters and enablers for our start-ups, helping drive them on to success. “We are looking for mentors from all walks of life and business backgrounds, those who are able and willing to pass on some of the most important advice any start-up might need. All it takes is a few hours a month and the results are extremely rewarding.” One entrepreneur who has been able to take full advantage of Spark Up’s collaborative approach, is Kevin Clayton, whose business Parentapps.co.uk provides schools with a cost effective way of communicating with parents. He joined Spark Up after setting up his business developing mobile apps for schools in September 2014 and believes the experience has armed him with the valuable skills he need to help is business grow. Kevin said: “Although I had started my own business, I hadn’t really been able to immerse myself in Liverpool’s business community, making slow progress in getting schools to sign up to the apps. “Since joining Spark Up this has all changed. Thanks to the help of Jenny and the mentors involved, I’ve been put in front of invaluable contacts and developed skills such as pitching and planning, which has helped me in signing up 40 new schools this year. “I am now in a position where I am able to hire a member of staff and hope to increase my workforce to three before the end of the year. I also have plans to secure a new office space, as well as take parentapps.co.uk out onto the national playing field.” Applications for Spark Up can be made via the website www.sparkup.org and mentoring enquiries can be made to the team on info@sparkup.org.uk