To say the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme has helped start up and support a diverse range of businesses since starting in 2016 is something of an understatement. We caught up with programme manager Anna Smith to find out more about what they do and how they can help wannabe and emerging entrepreneurs…

Tell us all about Launchpad:

Launchpad is a fully-funded business support programme delivered across the Sheffield City Region, that brings together a wide range of start-up services including workshops, events and one-to-one support from business advisers, coaches and mentors.

It is a fully inclusive programme designed to help ambitious entrepreneurs set up and run successful businesses and support SMEs under two years old to take the next step and grow their business.

There is no cost to the entrepreneur, as Launchpad is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, local authority partners and the Prince’s Trust.

The local authority partners deliver support in their local area and include Enterprising Barnsley, Rotherham Investment and Development Office, Doncaster Chamber on behalf of Business Doncaster, Business Sheffield, Bassetlaw District Council and Growing Rural Enterprises on behalf of the Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Who is the programme aimed at?

The programme is available to anyone aged over 16 who has a desire to start their own business and any SMEs that have been trading for less than two years. If they’re based in the Sheffield City Region and have a great idea for a new product or service and want to know how to bring it to market, or they’re already trading but want ideas on how to grow the business, I encourage them to get in touch.

What have you guys been up to since the programme began?

Since launching in April 2016 we have provided over 25,000 hours of support and helped nearly 3,000 people to realise their dream of running their own successful business – so quite a lot!

You’ve helped some of the businesses we’ve featured in unLTD already – including Bullion and the Sheffield Candle Company. Who else has benefited from Launchpad?

 We’ve helped a wide range of businesses from chocolatiers to fashion designers and pretty much everything in between.

The Five Rivers Coffee Company in Broomhill serves delicious and distinctive food and drink including traditional Vietnamese filter coffee and ‘banh mi’ baguettes.

K9 Bodycare is a company specialising in canine health conditions and treatments including massage therapy.

Ajika, produced in Doncaster by husband and wife team Gunda Hewitt-Kortava,and Astamur Kortava, is a blend of chillies and fragrant herbs and spices with traditional varieties originating from regions of the South Caucasus such as Abkhazia.

Meanwhile Barnsley-based Wool Couture are all about the ‘Modern Artisan’ craft movement and inspiring a new generation to take up the centuries-old pastimes of knitting, macramé, crochet and weaving. Their founder not only appeared on Dragons’ Den but secured a joint deal.

What else does Launchpad offer?

We have a free mentor programme, which gives businesses access to support to give them the best possible start on their business journey, by matching entrepreneurs and business owners trading for less than two years with an experienced mentor.

Launching a business can be a daunting time for new entrepreneurs, who often find themselves feeling isolated and unsure where to get the right advice to develop their ideas.

The programme provides the opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge and experience and, perhaps most importantly of all, learn from individuals who once stood in their shoes.

Following a tried and tested formula, mentoring gives new business owners the confidence to grow, as well as a chance to share concerns with someone who has ‘been there, done that’. Our mentors come from many different backgrounds but they all share a passion to help others succeed.

Any final message?

Basically – wherever you are on the journey to being a successful entrepreneur, we can help!

Contact us for information now on 03330 00 00 39 or email:  growthhub@sheffieldcityregion.org.uk