8 years ago I joined Ignite and it changed my life in so many ways for the better. In fact, it was the best decision I ever made.
At the time I had been running a web agency with my long time co-founder Kev Price for about 7 years. We had ideas for products coming out of our ears and the technical ability to build them, but our client project paid the bills so we didn’t have the time or space to see them through. We applied Ignite for the funding, but the real value was everything else.
What I wasn’t expecting was that my entire approach to business and problem solving would be flipped on its head and I would leave the programme with a support network of hundreds of like-minded founders and influential decision makers, that would help turn plans into action.
My journey since then has had its successes and failures, and lead me full circle back to Ignite in the North East as it’s MD. I couldn’t be more honoured and excited to be part of this amazing team and share all I’ve learned, supporting founders that are building the future of the North East.
Since Ignite’s first programme in 2011 the way people build startup companies has changed. The lean startup methodologies, models and principles are now well known, but one thing remains constant, startups are hard and founders still need support.
What Ignite does is to put founders first, each programme is tailored to needs of its cohort. The Ignite team itself is made up of founders who have built companies, raised capital globally, hired people, fired people, made mistakes, generated revenue and had successful acquisitions. We empathise with what you are trying to do, because we’ve been there.
After 28 programmes, 500+ founders and £100m of investment we’ve built up quite the global network of founders, investors and mentors. All of which we’ll use to help you take your idea forwards with momentum.
We believe in a long term vision for the startup ecosystem which includes everyone that wants to be part of it. We want it to be diverse, open, welcoming, progressive and ambitious.
In January 2022 we will be running the first of our pre-accelerator programmes. The pre-accelerator programme is for early stage founders — you may only have an idea, you could have a prototype built or indeed you might have a few early customers. If so, this programme is for you.
We are looking for ambitious founders who want to build big companies. Primarily we are looking for strong founder market fit. This can mean you have experienced the problem you are trying to solve or that you have deep domain experience but primarily we are looking for an angle. Something that shows us you have a unique insight to the idea and some knowledge of how it can be built.
You can be a solo founder or a team and while we embrace software developers you do not need to be a ‘techie’ to apply. Historically, about fifty percent of our pre-accelerator founders are non-technical and indeed some of the most successful companies in our portfolio have been built by non-technical founders.
You do however, need to already be based in the North East of England.
The programme will be run over 5 months as hybrid programme — a blend of online content (our speakers and mentors are based all over the world) and face-to-face workshops where we’ll all be in the same place (covid allowing).
The programme is free and each team will receive £10,000 in equity free funding. Most founders use this investment to support themselves for the duration of the programme. Plus, all teams are eligible for £250K of credits from some our partners, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Digital Ocean, GitHub, SendGrid, Nexmo, Autopilot, Pipedrive, Stripe and more.
So if there has been that idea at the back of your mind, you have a side project you want to explore or you are currently building the first iterations of your product, apply for the programme today.
I can’t promise you success, startups are hard, but do believe Ignite gives you a better chance of success.
As many of our previous founders have said, it can change your life.