This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.
Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit.
Hatch is a free of charge program aimed at helping entrepreneurs aged 18-30 who are looking to start up or grow their own business. Hatch gives them crucial business support through a 12 week long incubator program. The next Hatch incubator scheme is due to start at the end of January 2016 – apply for the next round here. Or maybe you have invaluable info for young businesses? Become a Hatch mentor!
Lots of small businesses and start-ups crop up every year, but they often don’t have access to expert business knowledge or funding, and the need for both is very real – on average only about 20% new enterprises make it past 18 months.
To address this issue and provide early support and guidance, Dirk Bischof started the Hatch incubator program in 2014. It’s been very successful: 90% of the businesses leaving the incubator are still operational 6 months after program end.
B£ caught up with Dirk who told us more about what inspired him to start Hatch, how it works and what it’s already achieved.
“I knew how hard it is to start a business or social enterprise when you’re younger, having started my first business at 24. I knew that support is essential to get off to the right start. I was always fascinated with incubators and accelerators and the way they build an ecosystem of support around the entrepreneurs. I knew that this was what I wanted to provide to early stage entrepreneurs and their enterprises.”
“There wasn’t anything like this locally, and having been in Brixton for over 6 years we knew there was a demand for specialist and holistic support. After a 2-year pilot and my personal experience of going through an accelerator programme (at the Young Foundation), we had a great team together, a solid programme, and the financial backing to get started. We use the lean methodology so every Hatch program is an experiment: we try to improve, make mistakes, learn from them, and be useful to the amazing entrepreneurs we get to work with.”
So far over 40 different businesses have been through the incubator program, ranging from community organisations like Brixton Soup Kitchen to start-ups like Snact. Brixton Soup Kitchen provides food, hot meals, and information to the homeless in Brixton. They joined Hatch’s program to put together a business plan and get their organisation further. Snact are a local social enterprise developing creative solutions to food waste and food poverty, and this is what they said about their Hatch experience:
“Starting a business is fun and rewarding, but it’s also full of challenges, and for those we needed some help. The Hatch incubator came up as the right opportunity at the right time for us to work through some core business issues and get support from the One Planet Ventures team.”
Dirk agrees that there are lots of challenges when starting a business, and it’s not just at the very start that you need support: “Starting a business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. That means we have to keep on building our support ecosystem to be effective for people coming to us with business ideas, to those that have tested it, and who go through Hatch, for our alumni. At the moment we need to ensure that we can deliver Hatch to the best of our abilities, delivering consistent quality, supporting not just the new entrepreneurs on the programme but be of service and use to those that have come through our doors already. We have now tested and piloted Hatch in four other countries in Europe, to learn how it could work elsewhere. We’d like to put Hatch into many more communities in London to support many more people to start their own businesses.”
“Hatch is currently looking for funding that would allow us to provide the early venture support needed to run more business experiments. Some of them will work out, all of them will provide learning opportunities for the individuals and the communities involved. Exciting times really!”
So how does Hatch work exactly? The incubator program is spread over 12 weeks and aims to help start-ups in a number of different ways. Dirk told B£ more about each stage:
The Hatch program consists of 20 workshops. Conducted by industry experts, they cover a range of subjects essential to start-ups. Subjects include: building a business model canvas (BMC), financial modeling, how to get funding, professional storytelling, marketing, crowdfunding.
Hatch will match you with one or two mentors depending on your needs. These mentors generally work at established businesses and have specific knowledge and expertise of the areas you might need help with. Subjects include business development, financial modeling, sales and marketing, and other skills useful to start-ups.
Hatch can help you get access to office, workshop or retail space. We are working with local partners such as the Impact Hub Brixton, the Remakery, The Market Traders Association of Brixton, and many other organisations offering physical space.
Hatch helped raise £97,200 in grants last year alone, and offers a chance to win £500 on Pitch Day which concludes each 12-week incubator series.
Hatch gives the potential to open up new business links that may otherwise have not been available between local businesses and with mentors.