Lucy Ritchie, Partner and Wealth Manager
Setting up a business in a good year requires grit and fortitude. Throw in a global pandemic and you have a myriad of additional challenges to navigate in those precarious early years. While 89% of UK businesses celebrate their first birthday, close to 58% won't make it to their fifth. Start-ups most commonly fail due to ill cash flow, lacklustre market demand, poor governance and an inability to scale.
Home Grown, itself a start-up, has flexed its entrepreneurial muscles in the most dynamic way. The private members' club has committed to providing support to five young businesses through their own start-up phase in what is known as the Green Shoots award. The winners will receive dedicated and personalised support, guidance and connections coordinated by Home Grown over the next year in the hope of accelerating their path to success.
The Green Shoots award is so named for its championing of emerging businesses as well as its commitment to solving sustainability issues. Applicants had to demonstrate how their business aligns with one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and why this commitment would bring about positive impact in their chosen field. 'Community' and 'Climate Change' were the most popular, echoing across the majority of submissions. A welcome and noble approach for these young businesses seeking not only to succeed but also to improve the world we live in.
Unpicking the trends of the last year, it has been interesting, if not unsurprising, to see tech-based businesses burgeoning in number. In the running, there were socially distanced approved app-based companies, scalable software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses spanning a multitude of sectors and niche newcomers such as ag-robotics. Outside tech, new iterations of fast-moving consumer goods businesses are emerging, leading the pack with an emphasis on sustainability, connectivity and the circular economy.
As with previous periods of economic strain, 2020 recorded a significant uptick in business births. All applicants had transitioned from the metaphorical safety blanket of the corporate world into full-time entrepreneurship – a condition of entry. Resilience, innovation and a desire to make positive impact are breeding the UK's next generation of businesses. With access to Home Grown's network of support, the winning founders are hoping to bypass some of the vulnerable moments oft-presented in those formative years. Shahid Hamid, an entrepreneur who exited his Early Years business, Mace Montessori, in 2018, said, "Those first years as a start-up are lonely. When you are innovative and disruptive in your concept, you spend a great deal of time and resource talking until someone listens." Green Shoots is therefore a welcome embrace for these fabulous five.
The 2021 recipients of the Green Shoots awards:
Mandeep Soor and Benjamin Norsworthy co-founded sustainable fashion tech business, Bendi. The company provides consumers with impact data on fashion items they are browsing online. Their mission is to empower the consumer to make sustainable decisions when shopping online and clean up the industry.
Matt Kennedy founded Fussy, which seeks to eliminate single-use plastic from personal care products with a suite of refillable deodorants, in a reusable case, with compostable refills. This clever business is chipping away at the plastics crisis one bathroom cabinet at a time.
Charlotte Melia founded Vesta, a SaaS platform specialising in safe, educational and active classes for children. "Not all screen time is created equal," Melia likens the platform to a mix of Peloton and CBBC, with the overriding mission to address the mental and physical health issues resulting from so much passive screen-time.
Muddy Machine's founder Florian Richter helps farms overcome labour shortages and costs through the provision of robots that automate labour-intensive fieldwork. These battery-powered robots open up renewable power source options in agriculture and use smart machine-learning to detect, monitor and harvest crops.
Kelly McCabe and Morgan Fitzsimons co-founded Perci Health, a telemedicine platform that provides personalised and holistic healthcare for people living with cancer. Designed to be a single destination for tailored answers and access to high-quality cancer professionals, Perci Health empowers people to get the right help when they need it, with the full picture in mind. Utterly brilliant.
These entrepreneurs have good reason to feel optimistic. As do we. With programmes like Green Shoots providing a supportive infrastructure to the businesses of tomorrow, the survival rate of start-ups is bound to improve. With more fulfilling their triple bottom lines, they can have a wider positive impact across society, the environment and governance. Onwards and upwards.
 ONS 2020
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