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Budding businesspeople bloom at bootcamp event

Wales' bright business owners at this year's Bootcamp to Business event

37 aspiring young business people from all corners of Wales have come together to hone their business ideas, expand their networks and develop their self-confidence at an immersive residential bootcamp.

Hosted at The Summit Centre, Treharris, this year’s Big Ideas Wales residential ‘Bootcamp to Business’ event marked the eleventh annual event since it first launched in 2013.

Targeted at individuals aged 18-25 with an entrepreneurial spark, Bootcamp to Business aims to strengthen the support framework available for aspiring startups by inviting leaders to collectively develop the skills needed within the first year of trading, from branding and social media to sustainability and pitching.

This year’s Bootcamp to Business weekend began with a speed networking event led by Big Ideas Wales Role Model, Jamie McAnsh. Jamie shared the story of See No Bounds, a networking business thriving on genuine connections, and offered tips on relationship building in business.

Participants then had the opportunity to reflect on what type of entrepreneur they want to be in a self-promotion class with wellbeing and self-development entrepreneur, Ryan Davies, before learning how to attract positive, successful partnerships in a DiSC personality profiling masterclass with key speaker, Emma Melrose.

Role Model and founder of digital marketing initiative Yellow Hat, Destiny Kirk, was on hand to help attendees perfect their business pitches. During her pitch masterclass, Destiny guided them through every step of a pitch from introduction to audience analysis, unique selling points and social values.

Masterclasses concluded with a sustainability session with Big Ideas Wales Role Model Tyra Oseng-Rees. During the hour session, Tyra introduced attendees to the importance of launching sustainably, simple eco-conscious business implementations, and the different accreditations attendees can work towards.

A highlight of the event was a talk on mental wellbeing, led by Andrew Jenkins. Andrew became a mental health advocate after bravely sharing his own journey on the hit BBC show, The Traitors, where he got to the finals. Andrew shared invaluable advice about maintaining a positive mindset and the importance of mental wellbeing during his session on Saturday.

Andrew said: “I’ve met a lot of celebrities over the past year, but I was more nervous speaking to these hugely gifted business leaders. They’re the future of business here in Wales, and their devotion and ambition is inspiring. I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this weekend, to have witnessed their entrepreneurial drive and be able to offer some words of encouragement. I want them all to just go out there and build their empires. They can do it.”

Andrew spent two days at the event, offering more words of encouragement to the business-minded attendees ahead of their pitches on Sunday morning, and opened the awards ceremony later that day.

The event came to a close on Sunday with the presentation of six awards. Ashima Anand received the Green Award for the most innovative plans and processes around promoting sustainability, while Sarah Rowlands was honoured with the Community Champion Award for her business idea aimed at helping others.

India Lloyd-Evans, received the Bootcamper’s Choice Award after attendees voted her as the most likely bootcamper to learn from. Chloe Henderson was also awarded the Mentors Award which, voted by event hosts George and Glenda, was based purely on her personal growth and improvement over the weekend.

April Garcia, founder of The Galactic Healing Hub, was also among the winners of the weekend, earning the Best Pitch Award for her compelling pitch earlier that day.

Discussing her involvement in this year’s Big Ideas Wales Business to Bootcamp event, April said: “This weekend has been incredible. It pushed me to challenge myself and refine my business idea alongside inspiring peers. I even offered readings for feedback to enhance my business further. I speak on behalf of all my peers when I say that this event has been unbelievable. We’ve all taken key messages and skills from this experience that will strengthen our businesses further.”

Fellow attendee and founder of ST Welding, Sion Thomas, said: “I was very pleased to be invited to this event, and was blown away when I heard it was fully funded. There’s a really strong sense of community here and the atmosphere is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Everyone is here to support one another and make their business the best it can be. I’m very proud to be a part of this event and wider network of Welsh businesspeople.”

Following the thriving weekend, attendees will now be paired with Business Advisors who, available via email and over the phone, can guide the launch and further development of their business dreams.

Big Ideas Wales is part of the Business Wales service to encourage youth entrepreneurship in Wales. Funded by Welsh Government, it helps young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop business ideas and entrepreneurial talent.