Day 1: Bootcampers vs Tigers!

On their first day of immersion in the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp, the Bootcampers explored what it means to be a good leader, especially when life conspires to make things difficult for the entrepreneur! We were privilidged to have the chance to meet and chat with Ben Mee, owner of the Dartmoor Zoological Park. You may remember Ben’s Zoo on the BBC that showed his story of how as a writer with no previous experience in zoology, he spent his family’s life savings to re-open DZP in July 2007.

Ben’s story is inspirational for new and would-be entrepreneurs in demonstrating how sheer determination to succeed will enable you to beat the odds and still win. As well as taking the Bootcampers through the highs and lows of his ‘adventures’, Ben then took us all on a personal guided tour of the zoo to show us just how far the zoo has developed since it first re-opened. He even introduced the Bootcampers to the Tigers – a unique experience of getting that close to a tiger is something the Bootcampers won’t forget in a hurry! At least it will give them the confidence to deal with Dragons in the future!

25/03/2009 EB News Archive


25 March 2009 by Matt Fleming, Business Editor, Plymouth Herald

Plymouth’s 2nd Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™ begins on Monday 30 March 2009. The challenge – which aims to give the participants five years’ worth of business experience in as many days – will take place throughout next week. The first event was held in March 2007 and the challenge this year aims to build on its success.

The 2007 Bootcamp saw 11 business wannabes taking part in mental and physical challenges including exercises with the Royal Marines. They also got the chance to meet finance experts and pick the business brains of people such as puzzle entrepreneur Danny Bamping. All the participants have now moved forward with their business ideas to either expand their companies or actually start trading.

Co-designer Sue Windley, of Pragmatic Performance Group Ltd, said this year’s Bootcamp would be divided into three parts: the five-day immersion event which would take place next week, then monthly workshop meetings where various activities would happen as a follow-up for one year, as well as mentoring meetings each month with each Bootcamper to keep their business ideas on track. The exact details of what await the Bootcampers – who were recruited through a Dragons’ Den-style competition – are being kept as a secret for the first part of the challenge, taking place next week.

The participants are a mixture of new entrepreneurs who have been successful in winning sponsorship by local organisations and recently established business people who are paying their own way through the experience.  “We’re particularly excited about this year’s challenge,” said Sue. “Everybody’s talking about the recession and we want to challenge people to start up a business during it. The Bootcamp accelerates the start-up of the participants’ businesses and will build on what we achieved in 2007.”

18/11/2008 EB News Archive


18th November 2008: A ‘TASTER’ for the 2009 Entrepreneurs’ Bootcamp took place today at the i-Space at Marjon as part of National Enterprise Week events in Plymouth.

The 2007 Bootcamp was hailed as a great success due to the number of participants who went on to set up and grow their own businesses – and organisers plan to replicate this success with the 2nd Bootcamp in March 2009.

To give would-be entrepreneurs an idea of what they will face, a ‘taster’ session was help today at Marjon’s i-Space (one of the sponsors and home of the 2009 Bootcamp) when the five-day event was squeezed into just two hours!

According to Bootcamp co-designer Sue Windley, the taster featured ‘a little bit of everything that the 2007 bootcampers faced.  This taster aimed to give potential entrants the full flavour of what difference five days can make to the success of a business idea, and what they need to do to survive one of the most gruelling new business development programmes around’.

So several volunteers found themselves trying to figure out a triangular puzzle; build tall structures out of newspaper and work out how to save a business from disaster – all in just 2 hours!  Split into teams, the participants found out what it felt like to be put under pressure, with one commenting: “Although I knew it was only for fun, I couldn’t believe just how competitive it got, especially when our allotted time was counting down!”

The 2009 bootcampers will be selected by sponsors through competitions hosted by The Herald and Marjon in February, so the taster will also be the first chance for participants to find out what qualities the sponsors are looking for in them.

01/11/08 EB News Archive


1 November 2008: University College Marjon’s i-space innovation laboratory will be the host and HQ for the 2009 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™.  The i-space is a unique venue filled with cutting edge technology that enables individuals and teams to be creative, innovative and find solutions by literally thinking outside the box.

The i-space combines a circular room with a mix of interactive white boards and writable surfaces around its entire wall with a colourful but relaxing room complete with adjustable mood lighting and music. The i-space has everything anyone would need for creating and capturing innovative solutions with multimedia networked laptops, high speed internet access, advanced sound system, digital cameras and video equipment, plus a data projector for viewing presentations or films anywhere in the room.

Sue Windley, co-designer of the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™, said: “This is truly an amazing venue and when I first saw it, I knew it was the perfect place to become the creative hub and HQ for our would-be entrepreneurs in the 2009 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™. You can’t help but be creative here, so I know it will give our new business ideas a huge boost to finding success.”

For further information and details about the i-space, visit i_space_website.

23/07/2008 EB News Archive


Article taken from Plymouth Herald Newspaper 23/7/08

Security Management South West Ltd has made it into the grand final of the national competition 2008 Security Excellence Awards. Known as the Oscars of the security world, the awards will take place on October 9 in Park Lane, London.

The firm has been chosen in the Security Guarding Company of the Year category – and bosses say they believe they have got what it takes to win.  Managing Director Ken York said: “We’re very proud of what we have achieved here, and to be recognised by the industry as being one of the best is just amazing news. I don’t see why we can’t go on and win it now!”

Magazines Security Management Today and Security Installer and website info4security are hosting the awards which are designed to raise the profile of the industry, while promoting and rewarding those companies achieving ‘the very highest standards and outstanding success’.

Ken continued: “These awards are great for our industry. The industry has had bad press over the years due to licensing laws and some rogue traders, but these awards prove there are some excellent security companies out there. We just hope we can go on and win in October.”

Ken was the “12th man” of the 2007 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp – designer Sue Windley explains: “Ken’s business ideas were brilliant but we didn’t have the 12th sponsor to support them, so although Ken was not able to attend the 5-Day Bootcamp, my own company Pragmatic Performance Management have been supporting him and his team during 2007 as the Bootcamp’s “12th man”! Getting into the finals for these awards is a remarkable achievement for this young and thriving business.”

To find out more about this remarkable business, visit their website SMSW_Ltd

11/07/2008 EB News Archive


Article written by Matt Fleming, Plymouth Herald Newspaper 11/7/08

Former Devonport High School for Boys student and now a Hollywood actor, Joey Ansah helped launch the publicity for a multi-purpose studio Bootcamp Graduate Nick Palfrey’s MooFu Ltd.  Joey, who played an assassin in Hollywood blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum, wanted to put his face to the new facility, based at Plymouth’s Airport Business Centre.

Nick commented to the Plymouth Herald: “We make educational products, like films and resources for schools. We wanted to expand the business and make it multi-purpose, so we designed the new centre with video suites, a music studio – all sorts. It will open in early August, but we wanted Joey to put his face to it beforehand so we can tell people all about it and show it will have star quality.”

Joey’s stepbrother, Tom McCaren, is the commercial studio manager at MooFu, and he wanted him to help publicise the new multi-purpose centre. A fight scene with Joey in action was filmed last week in a city warehouse at the airport business centre.

MooFu was the result of Nick’s experience of going through the 2007 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp. He said “The concept behind MooFu had existed for a while and the Bootcamp’s support allowed my idea to become reality. I was introduced to successful business people and they convinced me that my idea was the perfect recipe to form a successful business.”

01/07/2008 EB News Archive


Original article appeared in the Plymouth Shopper Magazine in July 2008.

Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™ Graduate Jayne Sutherland’s catering business, which helps disadvantaged young people gain industry-recognised qualifications, is proving so successful that it has recently taken on additional space to create a training centre.

The Grub’s Up Catering Crew is based at the Wolseley Trust Business Park in Ford and operates as a non-profit making social enterprise. The organisation provides catering services to outside events, operating with a team of young people who are given the chance to learn how to cook under the guidance of a highly-qualified chef. The expansion means that the range of training will also develop from food hygiene, nutrition, first aid, and craft to include NVQs and progression awards in catering and business administration.

Jayne Sutherland, Managing Director of Grub’s Up said that the additional space means that it can more than double the number of youngsters who can be trained during the course of a year.  Grub’s Up currently has 23 youngsters on its books, but that is expected to increase to more than 40 by September.  The size of the kitchen is being doubled over the next couple of months to enable more young people to work at any one time.

Youngsters spend up to two days a week at Grub’s Up, part of the time spent working in the kitchens and the rest of the time either in skills for life training sessions or preparing their NVQ submissions. They are not paid for their time at Grub’s Up, other than any benefits or allowances to which they may be entitled.  Jayne said: “It is particularly gratifying to see the young people growing in confidence and self-esteem. Most of our young people come from difficult backgrounds, often having been in care homes or living with foster parents. The majority of them have few qualifications and often need help with basic life skills, including numeracy and literacy.”

Jayne continued “Young people who have attended training at the centre will go out into Plymouth and be much better prepared for the work place by offering themselves as well prepared and well-rounded individuals. Apart from learning essential catering skills and the importance of healthy eating, they also learn generic life skills such as working as a team, multi tasking, health and safety and time management. Most importantly they will have learnt from the Grub’s Up Crew the satisfaction gained from hard work and the importance of achieving one’s potential.”

The breakthrough for Grub’s Up came last November when they secured funding from the Learning Skills Council for the programme, which enabled the enterprise to take on a highly qualified chef and an NVQ training assessor. Apart from the funding from the Learning Skills Council, Jayne Sutherland attributes the success of Grub’s Up to her involvement in the 2007 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp. Jayne was one of 11 candidates who took part in the 2007 Bootcamp and she was the first to achieve her goals of expansion and development as a training centre.

Jayne said: “This would not have happened if it was not for Bootcamp – it has given me so much. It’s given me the confidence to phone someone up to say ‘I want this’ knowing who to contact, and knowing that Sue Windley and Carrie Story, the Bootcamp designers are in the background. I didn’t class myself as a business person before, but I do now – it’s given me marketing, finance and presentation skills.” She added: “I started the Bootcamp very cynically with the attitude ‘there’s no way you’re going to do to me what you say you will’ then I came out and it has been amazing.”

Sue Windley, co-designer of the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp™, added: “Jayne has been one of our stars of the Bootcamp and we are so pleased to see her achieve what she originally set out to do so quickly. All the Bootcamp participants benefit from the networking opportunities that are opened up to them and Jayne has been particularly successful in this respect. Now she is re-assessing her goals to aim for even more success. What is so brilliant about Jayne’s success is that she is running a social enterprise that truly gives back to the local community – and it is the skills of being an entrepreneur that has enabled her to do this.”

Sue said that she hopes Jayne will be involved in next year’s Bootcamp possibly as an advisor on the benefits of operating social enterprises. For more information on Grub’s Up Catering Crew including the catering services or training opportunities offered, go to the Grubs_Up_Website.