Ideas Fund returns 🙌

Tech Hub Swansea’s Ideas Fund is a unique company-building accelerator which turns ideas into thriving startups.

When the first cohort was launched by serial entrepreneurs Matt Warren, Paul Harwood and Tim Morgan just over two years ago, over eighty ambitious startups applied to take part.

RateSwitch was one of them, and successfully making it through the highly competitive interview/selection process proved to be a significant turning point in my life.

Here’s some of what I gained from this fantastic experience.

Realism

‘If you build it, they will come’

Trust me, they won’t!

Lots of first-time founders (myself included) are so head over heels in love with their vision, they quickly convince themselves that acquiring customers will be relatively straightforward.

It’s not, regardless of how useful your product (or service) is.

The Ideas Fund mentors shaped my expectations early doors, which meant I didn’t lose heart when things got tough in the first twelve to eighteen months.

Skills (pay the bills)

There’s a good chance you’ll need to raise money at some point in your startup journey, so you need to know how to pitch to investors.

Not only did I learn how to do this effectively, I was given a chance to put these new-found skills into practice.

Ideas Fund culminated by pitching for seed investment at Google Campus in Shoreditch, London – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

And raise we did… Finance Wales (now the Development Bank of Wales) invested in us a few months later, and this led to securing follow-on funding and invaluable ongoing mentoring/support from highly experienced and proven fintech entrepreneur Andy Yates.

Friendships

Ideas Fund consisted of seven teams, all from different industries and backgrounds:

Sincere and lasting friendships were formed between both participants and mentors – we keep in touch and help each other out regularly.

Memories

Ideas Fund ran for two months during the Spring of 2016, at the same time Wales were making history at the European Championships in France.

These are great memories that will stay with me for a lifetime, because when I think of Ideas Fund, I think of Wales’ epic run at the Euros.

And when I think of Wales’ epic run at the Euros, I think of Ideas Fund.

Freedom

There’s nothing wrong with working 9 to 5 – it just wasn’t for me anymore.

The financial backing of Ideas Fund gave me sufficient runway to leave my full-time job and pursue my startup dream, and while this was a incredibly tough call at the time (for many reasons), it turned out to be one of my better life decisions.

For what it’s worth to anyone considering doing the same…

There’ll never be a ‘safe’ time to make the transition and you’ll always have reasons (both personal and financial) to stay in the comfort zone. If you decide to take the plunge, do it as responsibly as you can and don’t waste precious time worrying once you have.

Get your head down, give it 100%, and make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

Thanks for reading, and the very best of luck to all applicants when the second cohort is announced in the coming months 💪

Ideas Fund is an intense eight week startup program for idea and early stage startups.

Each startup receives an investment of £10,000 to help prove their idea or product is viable, and further investment/longer-term support is given to projects that show potential.

The program ends with a ‘pitch day’ where the cohort is presented to a select audience of potential investors.

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