Videoconferencing ignites fire in entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs on the Ignite Bermuda programme adapted to the changed environment caused by Covid-19 and completed the course with the help of hundreds of hours of online videoconferences.
Ignite Bermuda, an incubator for business ideas, had been preparing to celebrate its first anniversary in late March, but those plans were dashed when the Government introduced strict shelter-in-place regulations to fight the pandemic.
The anniversary celebrations were put on hold, but a way to continue was found so the second group of entrepreneurs who were halfway through the programme could reach the finish line.
It meant 2,000 hours of Zoom meetings online as entrepreneurs, their mentors and volunteer experts banded together to help one another.
Ignite had 34 businesses in its full programme, and more than 40 in the light programme over the state of emergency.
It used a series of weekly online “huddles” to bring the businesses together, along with guests that included Bermuda Economic Development Corporation entrepreneurs and community mentors.
Sean Reel, the executive director of Ignite Bermuda, said: “What is most important to us, is that after three months, all of our Ignite entrepreneurs are still working on their businesses and will be stronger entrepreneurial leaders for the experience and lessons learnt.
“We know that 65 per cent of the jobs will come from early-stage businesses entrepreneurs and they need to be at the heart of recovery and growth.”
Ignite extended the second group by a month in order “to maintain the support system during the extended period of high stress and uncertainty.”
Laura Lyons, Ignite’s manager of entrepreneurial enablement, said: “Throughout the last few months the Ignite programme and world events have challenged the cohort of January 2020 with the questions, ‘What can you do now? How can you be a resource? Where will you be in six months time?’ and ‘What do you need to do in order to get there?’
“All have risen to that challenge, some generating new revenue streams, others working on new partnerships, and all committed to doing work that supports our community.”
Ignite has supported 51 businesses in its first two groups in its inaugural year and many more on the ‘light’ programme.
The group has also started mentor matching, created resident adviser roles, facilitated entrepreneurial lead mastermind groups and extended community support.
Ignite Bermuda said it wanted to attract entrepreneurs with a variety of ideas encompassing all sectors, from start-ups to small businesses, looking to scale and grow in markets outside Bermuda.
Job creation and the promotion of diversity are also parts of Ignite’s mission.
Darren Glasford, of Systemized, a bike riding and driving school and security firm, said: “I’ve learnt there is a massive amount of support from people who have an interest in seeing businesses succeeded. Ignite is a one-stop shop for everything related to running a business.”
Claire McDevitt, of Healthcare Solutions, a healthcare consultancy and recruitment agency, added: “Ignite challenged me to think differently and challenge myself differently and with it comes the belief that you can do it with the support network.”
Fiona Douglas, of Care Connect, an at-home caregivers provider, said: “Ignite Bermuda is more than a firestarter. It is the flame that reminds you of why you are doing what you are doing — the burning reason for starting your business.”
The extension of the second ground has delayed the intake of the next round of programme applications.
Applications for the next group will be accepted online from June 22 for two weeks and successful applicants will start on August 31.
• For more information about Ignite Bermuda’s accelerator programme visit www.ignitebermuda.com
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