NatWest - Entrepreneurial Spark

Nominee Name:
Gordon Merrylees

Nominee Position:
Head of Entrepreneurship
Thank you for voting for Entrepreneurial Spark!

This year, Entrepreneurial Spark powered by NatWest has had a number of achievements which we are proud to submit for this award. We’re determined to support entrepreneurs by making available to them our reach, expertise, knowledge, mentoring, access to our customer base and supply chain networks.

To emphasise this we opened our 13th people accelerator hub in London at NatWest’s Angel offices in August this year. This is the 13th Hub of its kind to open in the UK and is the long awaited opportunity for Entrepreneurial Spark and NatWest to open their doors to London entrepreneurs! You can watch a short video on the London Launch here

A new model has been launched across the programme allowing us to reach up to 20,000+ entrepreneurs over 5 years – supporting entrepreneurs from ideas through to scale. The new programme aligns with the way we segment our customers allowing us to offer a targeted banking proposition for each stage of the programme allowing us to serve businesses from Business Banking through to Corporate & Commercial banking. We expanded our programs to 4 different types of business - Sprint (early stage business with an idea), Enable (Entrepreneurs who has successfully passed Sprint), Grow (businesses generating £100k+ turnover or with £25k+ investment) and Scale (businesses with turnover £200k+ or with £150k+ investment). This supports our ambition to provide complete wrap-around support for entrepreneurs at whatever stage of their businesses they might be – they may be looking to scale up or change direction and we have a program to support them in doing so.

To learn more about what we do for entrepreneurs in our hubs you can watch this video

This month we have launched an App called NatWest Pitch which self-enables entrepreneurs everywhere to pitch like a professional. The app is completely free and is a part of digitizing our proposition and supporting entrepreneurs all over, not just in our hubs. As part of this digitization we have created some videos outlining key tools that are useful for entrepreneurs, please see them below:

Pitch Perfect video

Creating a lean start-up business video

This year, we are proud to announce that the Entrepreneurial Development Academy (EDA) has now been officially accredited by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and is recognised externally as an accreditation! The EDA is a unique People accelerator that develops a ‘can do’ attitude using tools and techniques successful entrepreneurs’ exhibit to drive capability and engagement. Launched in Sept 2015, the EDA plays a key part in helping us to deliver our ambition to be number one for customer service, trust and advocacy as well as supporting UK business and communities. We are proud to announce that the EDA now has c. 5700 members!

2017 has also been a record-breaking year for the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards with triple the number of applicants as last year (1350, an increase of 900 on last year) and a record breaking number of judges (108!) including successful business men and women – such as James Caan CBE. Overall, this year we have worked hard to provide the best wrap around support to entrepreneurs succeed and help them contribute to the UK economy. By powering Entrepreneurial Spark, we have together become the world’s largest free people accelerator for start-up and scale-up businesses.

What was the in-market status quo before the proposition was created?

Previously, banks have been focused on returns in terms of tangible income and assets. However, banks are starting to take a new approach to returns and are looking to achieve more beneficial outcomes for our economy and for all of our stakeholders. NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank are proud to be standing at the forefront of this market change and offer our services for free because we understand that returns aren’t always tangible or necessarily short term. We’re taking a long term, sustainable approach to banking.

What challenges were you facing as a business?

The RBS Enterprise Tracker surveys nationally representative samples of the UK population on a regular basis. The research is designed to track people’s attitudes and ambitions towards starting up in business. We went out and posed the question “Who would you go to for advice if you wanted to start your own business? Only 36% responded with the bank. Whilst 36% is a good start it illustrates that not enough people are yet turning to their Bank for advice on how to overcome challenges or fuel growth in their business. Our ambition in 2017 and beyond is that we are determined to be the leading bank for entrepreneurs by powering UK businesses to start, scale and succeed.

Our partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark is very exciting and it is absolutely what we should be doing as a UK Bank. Because of our recent history we, more than most, have a duty and responsibility to help grow the economy and support, develop and facilitate a vibrant entrepreneurial community. By supporting Entrepreneurs in this way, we are also contributing to the economy and the ecosystems within which entrepreneurs operate. As a result we have also been able to create the Entrepreneurial Development Academy (EDA) which allows many of our staff to increase their understanding of entrepreneurs and indeed to help them be more entrepreneurial in how they approach their role and support customers.

What impact has the proposition had?

To see the impact that we have had on entrepreneurs and therefore the UK economy, please see out 2017 impact report: http://www.blowyourmind2017.com. Some key impacts to note are that the partnership has supported entrepreneurs to create c. 3152 jobs for the UK economy and they have raised over £151m of investment. We have supported over 1,736 entrepreneurs and have a business survival rate of 85% which is phenomenal compared with the standard average of c.20%.

The London hub has already seen many hundreds of applications for our 4 different programs and has just completed the first cohort of Sprint entrepreneurs with brilliant feedback! As expected, there is an abundance of interest in the hub from entrepreneurs and mentors, partners and members of the ecosystem wanting to support. The other hubs are also seeing applicants for the new 4-program approach and are promoting the app to as a self-development tool for all entrepreneurs! The EDA is helping to change the mindsets in the bank and provides a toolkit to think about things differently - our ambition is to create a bank of Intrapreneurs! GBEA have just completed their celebration dinners in the 5 regions and gala finals are upcoming shortly…

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