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Boot camp puts entrepreneurs through their paces

The HSBC-sponsored event , organised by the East of England Development Agency, attracted nearly 200 delegates and included the launch of BizgrowthEast, a support programme for entrepreneurs.

Serial entrepreneur and angel investor Doug Richard was the guest speaker at the event. He said: “Although what is currently happening in the world’s financial markets is unprecedented, I agree with those that say there is no better time – I started half my businesses during a downturn.

“When you set up in this type of climate, you tend to be better disciplined and create a much sharper business. If you can sell something to someone during these tough times then you are validating your business at its worst point – everything else is up from there on in.

“One thing I would say is that businesses must take advantage of the support available; it substantially increases their chances of success.”

Among the delegates at the event was Chris Steeples of Shefford-based Espere Healthcare, whose therapeutic clothing offers a breakthrough for sufferers of eczema and dermatitis dramatically helping reduce the symptoms of itching and scratching.

He said: “As a small business, you rarely get a chance to take time out and look at things afresh. I am always open to new ideas especially in today’s climate. It was also a real opportunity to expose my company to other businesses.”

EEDA chair Richard Ellis (pictured) said: “The Bootcamp was a first for the East of England. Insight from an experienced entrepreneur, such as Doug Richard, is invaluable but the interactive nature of the programme delivered added value with 97 per cent of delegates rating the day good or excellent. But it’s all the more important that we make sure we deliver the right support at the right time and make sure that it is easy to find. I would encourage all entrepreneurs to register for the programme and make use of our recently launched Business Map to connect them with a wide range of advice, support, networks and funding available.”

Mark Shillito, HSBC senior commercial manager and divisional technology banking manager, said: “It was great to see so many new businesses so positive, and taking the initiative to create a stronger base for their business.”

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