Key to the success of the Catalyst Centre is the importance we attach to learning something new every day. On Thursday the 14th of March, we headed off to Start Up Britain’s Start Up Tech event in London, to see what we could learn from the phenomenal line up of speakers. Our trip to London gave us a chance to hear some amazing stories, and to catch up with what’s new in the world of start-up tech.

The first talk we caught explained the importance of having the right mentor, and how to go about finding one. We couldn’t agree more; finding a mentor who is able to relate to your business and your way of working can be really tricky. Here at the Catalyst Centre we tap into the experience of Phil Sharpe, a professional business coach with decades of experience in the business world, and a brain full of knowledge and great ideas that he is more than willing to share with the Catalyst tenants. When you’re starting out, it’s important to have a mentor who truly wants to help you, and wants you to succeed – even if it means a bit of tough love!

One of the most interesting questions addressed during the day was whether or not to talk about your idea with people – an issue that many start-ups struggle with. What if someone steals your idea? The consensus was that you just need to share! The chances are somebody may already be thinking along the same lines, but by sharing, you are able to target a much wider audience. This will help you refine your product, service or business idea, allowing you to execute it more efficiently, and the interest you gain from this will show you where your target markets are. The speaker challenged the audience to stand up and share their idea, and when one woman was brave enough to do this, she found three people in the audience who had similar, but different ideas, and were able to help her with transferable skills.

Throughout the day, several applications were discussed that enable start-ups to tap into a wide variety of support, including crowdfunding. There are various types of crowdfunding available; some focused on attracting serious investors, others which put your product in front of the general public. Even large businesses like Warner Brothers are using crowdfunding to test the impact of their business ideas. One application that captured our interest was Indiegogo, explained via Skype link by Kate Drane in New York, who used this service when she started up canvan, a van that travels around the San Francisco Bay area bottling local craft beers.

Indiegogo is a great avenue if you’re having trouble receiving VC funding, as their flexible approach allows anyone to upload their business idea, and persuade people to invest their money in you! It allows flexible funding, meaning that even if you don’t reach your target, you can still keep what you earn – it’s a great resource for anyone with an amazing idea who needs crowdfunding.

Kate explained how vital it is to keep your profile active, and to keep updating the people who are interested in your product, as they’re the ones who are going to put their hard earned cash into your hands! She also talked about the importance of having people out there that are excited about what you’re doing, and care if you succeed or fail. The only way to do this is by sharing your story, and by allowing them to get to know how you got to where you are.

We also had a talk at the Science Park recently, organised by SETsquared, about Crowdcube, a similar application that is based in the UK to help small business access crowdfunding. They pride themselves on being a place where like-minded entrepreneurs can invest in others ideas, and it’s a great place to start for UK businesses. Crowdcube have a more stringent vetting process, both for applications and for investors, meaning that you know that your investments are taken seriously!

We could go on all day about the amazing and inspiring speakers, and how great an event this was – but it would be a very long blog! Instead, over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at some of their ideas, and sharing our thoughts with you on this blog.