A new initiative aimed at matching mentors with tech start-ups is off to a flying start.
More than 100 people attended the launch event for Tech Manchester, with more than 60 technology mentors pledging their time to support the city’s start-up community.
Last week Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told a 200-strong audience at a digital summit that a report found Manchester 34th of 60 UK cities when it came to availability of mentorship.
Creating an eco-system of tech mentors is one of the key platforms of the not-for-profit Tech Manchester initiative, which has been backed by entrepreneur Lawrence Jones, who is the co-founder and CEO of UKFast.
Tech Manchester’s project lead Patricia Keating said: “We know that the five-year survival rate for Manchester start-ups is 39 per cent, which is significantly less than the UK average of 42 per cent.
“However we know that companies that have been mentored have a 70 per cent survival rate. Imagine the difference we’d make if we coul move the needle that far in Manchester.
“Andy Burnham and Lawrence Jones both share a vision for Manchester to become the UK’s No1 tech city and the mentoring initiative is an important step in that journey.”
Katie Peate, head of creative digital and tech at the Business Growth Hub and Alveena Malkin, CEO of One Million Mentors, took part in a panel discussion to explain why they were supporting Tech Manchester.
Gaynor Dykes of Grant Thornton and Angel Academe, which supports female founded tech businesses, said: “The critical thing for any early-stage tech business is to get as much advice as possible from those who’ve been there and done it.
“Surround yourself with expertise to help with your strategy at a very early stage is really important.”
Tom New, co-founder of Manchester start-up Formisimo said: “We’ve made thousands of small mistakes on our journey, so if we can impart any knowledge that we’ve acquired over the three years that we’ve been doing this and it speeds up someone else’s journey to success then that can only be a good thing.”
Samantha Deakin-Hill is the co- founder of Campus Capital and mentors students at the University of Sheffield. She had this advice to would-be mentors in the room: “Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers.
“You don’t. You never will. And it’s better to admit what you don’t know as well as being confident about what you do know.”
Lawrence Jones MBE said: “Not many successful business leaders tell you that they reached where they are today on their own.
“Everyone needs help and support and tonight is about creating a real, working network of individuals with the skills and the experience to help supercharge Manchester’s tech community.”
The sold out event also heard from a number of businesses that had been mentored and ended with a number of workshop discussions where attendees were able to make recommendations on what they thought the mentoring scheme should look like.
Tech Manchester now begins the process of linking mentors to fledgling technology businesses in the region. A follow-up event is planned for September.