In this first episode of Celebrating Entrepreneurs, Bonhill plc editorial director Lawrence Gosling discusses what it takes to be an entrepreneur with Haatch co-founder and partner Scott Weavers-Wright along with his partners Fred Soneya and Simon Penson.
Each of them are founders of businesses that are now in the Haatch portfolio. We look at the ups and downs of their journey, the struggles they went through, the vision and the opportunities for the future.
Why are entrepreneurs and SMEs so important to the UK economy, particularly at a time when Covid-19 has create so much economic disruption?
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that SMEs – as defined as those companies with up to 250 employees – shows that these totaled 5.9 million businesses at the start of 2019.
Data for 2020 has not been released yet but the pandemic, which began to significantly impact the economy from March 2020, has seen rising unemployment and failure of businesses.
So the entrepreneur community – those men and women creating the next generation of businesses – are crucial to creating new jobs and revenue for the Exchequer to pay for the support government has given to companies and individuals.
Entrepreneurs are rarely recognised other than for the wealth they create for themselves so Haatch Ventures, a small fund manager which uses the Enterprise Investment Scheme to take stakes in early stage growth companies, has started a campaign celebrating entrepreneurs but also to help inspire the next generation.
Haatch points to the fact that businesses it invested in during the second half of 2020 created 100 new jobs, all of which are in the high value cloud computing sector, and are in businesses which have global scalability, even though they are UK firms.
A report published jointly by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and the British Business Bank in 2018 shows that SMEs are a key underused resource for increasing productivity.
It also recommended the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be nurtured to encourage greater growth ambition among SMEs, there needs to be practical and effective business education for SMEs, and a long-term education strategy is needed to build the next generation of entrepreneurs, incorporating training across the education system – including business placements, management apprenticeships, and skills training for SME support.
Haatch is producing a series of video interviews with some of the entrepreneurs it has backed to hear their stories, in particular how they have overcome some of the challenges of running a business.