Planting The Seeds For Startup Success: An Interview With The Budding Entrepreneurs Club’s Ollie Forsyth On The Need For Support In The Startup Scene
Linkilaw has picked The Budding Entrepreneurs Club, founded by Ollie Forsyth, as July’s Startup of the Month. The Budding Entrepreneurs Club is a network of startup founders with big and disruptive ideas in The United Kingdom. With networking events and meetup groups specifically geared towards new entrepreneurs, many still find it difficult to find people who share their interests, understand their issues and can support them in building their businesses. This interview focuses on the history of The BEC and its founder – and journey to create a startup scene that is more inclusive. They have also recently launched their own co-working space as a joint venture with Haus Spaces. The space is a 10,000 sq ft co-working space in Covent Garden.
At only 13 years old, Ollie Forsyth took the initiative to open an online store which sold cool gifts for teens. Earning more than £13K a year, his business gained traction and local news outlets quickly learnt about it. Eventually, major news publications caught on and Ollie’s Shop ended up on The Daily Mail.
From his own experience, he’s seen that anyone (at any stage in life) with an entrepreneurial spirit can be very successful in what they do once they’re given the right guidance, encouragement and support.
As someone that admits that he never really enjoyed school, he claims that the educational system in the United Kingdom fails to recognise the importance of encouraging diversity of ideas in the youth. With an overwhelming need to explore other outlets, leaving school at 16 was the only step that he felt he could take.
Fast forward three years later, and Ollie has won multiple awards and has appeared in many publications including Forbes, The Times and The Guardian.
From taking the leap of faith into the world of business without qualifications to comfortably landing on his feet and moving forward in his journey to success – Ollie wants all entrepreneurs, no matter how young or old, to have the opportunity to do the same.
“Founders deal with a lot, and I think that they need to be around other people that understand their issues and can help them work through them. Yes, there are so many opportunities for new entrepreneurs to get together, especially in big cities like London – but so many people still don’t get involved. I’ve always been someone that wanted more out of life and I want to help others on that path too.”
Although many people would like to found a startup, many are discouraged because of the high failure rate.
Some say 9 in 10 startups fail within the first 18 months, others say that two-thirds fail within the first five years.
Whilst the definition of failure is subjective, the personal devastation that comes with seeing your hard work amount to nothing isn’t.
The belief that simply having an innovative idea will be enough to ‘make it’ is wrong. Whilst bold ideas have the potential to change the world, they’ll never be given the opportunity to thrive unless they have the right foundations.
Running a successful startup is difficult for a plethora of reasons. Because of this, startups and their founders must be given more support. Outside of the economic benefits that comes with the successes of entrepreneurs; enabling diverse and novel ideas to flourish leads to technological disruption of sectors and the potential to improve the lives of many people.
Funnily enough, the ‘Big Business Boys Club’ itself needs to be disrupted to achieve this.
It costs a lot of money to start a business in the first place, and if a founder doesn’t have a stable income from elsewhere or financial support from loved ones, their project probably won’t even take off in the first place.
Although less rampant today, social inequality still plays a part in the imbalance of entrepreneurial success amongst different groups. Although many organisations are trying to close this disparity with grants and schemes, it’s clear that a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is necessary if we want to make the path to startup success more accessible.
The startup scene is fast-paced, with new developments and competitors emerging constantly. If a founder needs to give their time to another job, their family, their relationships or their education at the same time, they could find themselves spreading themselves incredibly thin trying to divvy up their time for all their responsibilities.
Whatever the recipe of success is to an individual, it’s got to include balance.
This is where The Budding Entrepreneur’s Club comes in.
Networking is a necessary evil for many businesspeople which even the most extroverted can find difficult. The startup scene, although inclusive in many respects, can be quite intimidating for many new entrepreneurs if they feel like they don’t have anyone that they identify with.
With this, Ollie Forsyth created The BEC with the need to create an inclusive and understanding networking community, where solidarity and support are at the forefront of its thinking.
It is a members-only club – where serious entrepreneurs are invited to join based on their passion and willingness to support others like them, not the size of their wallets. With the diversity of people and ideas that make The Budding Entrepreneur’s Club, participants are benefitted access to other entrepreneurs from all walks of life that understand the difficulties of creating a new business and a variety of opportunities geared towards supporting their success.
“With us, it’s all about the community. We hold some fantastic events which are free for our members. These events are visible to non-members, and we encourage them to come along but ask them to pay a small entrance fee and commit to a membership with their direct debit at the event.
We have one objective with our members that people tell me is crazy. We want EVERY member to get to know one another. This is very difficult, but we believe that is important to crafting genuine relationships that will help our founders professionally and personally. Every Friday, the community is invited to come together and we talk about our successes and blockers during the week, and we’ve found that this has helped all of our members immensely and inspired them with their goals in the coming week.”
So far, Ollie’s not the only one that feels this way. Apart from the fact that TBE Club is growing so quickly that it’s expanding to 4 new cities, it’s also got some major endorsements from some of the most influential people in the country.
From Levi Roots to Nick Clegg, people are lining up to tell the world about this club.
“What excites me most about this project is the growth. From when we started, 5 members were joining a month. Then it was 5 per day. Now, it keeps growing and growing. We don’t spend anything on marketing. All our events are on Eventbrite. As long as you love your business, and it’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing at night, and you’re dedicated to working hard, and get your idea in the right direction, people will see that. Thankfully for us, people have seen that with the club.”
So what’s next for THIS budding entrepreneur?
“Our next steps are dependent on what our members want and need. From talking to them, we’ve learnt that they need space, somewhere to work, investment – so that’s what we’ll give them!
We’ve recently launched their own co-working space in Covent Garden as a joint venture with Haus Spaces. We utilise spaces which are closed during the day, such as restaurants and clubs, and turn them into beautifully designed co-working spaces for budding entrepreneurs.
After this, we’ve been thinking about students. University is a great opportunity to meet new people and get exposed to new ideas and perspectives – so it isn’t surprising that many people become entrepreneurs during their time studying. That’s why creating a network just for student entrepreneurs, which will be called TBE Society is also on our to-do list. ”
A pretty big to-do list, but we believe Ollie and his team will get everything checked off very soon.
From reading this, Ollie and the guys are offering a discounted membership of only £50.00 – exclusively for you budding entrepreneurs reading this (https://www.haus.me.uk/visit/)! Book your visit today!
Follow Ollie on Twitter @ollieforsyth
Follow TBE Cub on Twitter @tbeclubhq
Follow Haus Spaces on Twitter @hausspaces
What did you think of this month’s startup? Do you know a cool startup that we should write about next time?