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Ignite business accelerator continues online

Bermuda's first privately funded business accelerator has shifted its programme for the entrepreneurial community online.

Ignite Bermuda temporarily closed its Wesley Street, Hamilton headquarters three weeks ago, and is now coaching and mentoring its cohort of 34 businesses virtually.

The only exception is the Sargasso Sea grocery delivery service, which continues to be hosted at the Ignite hub with appropriate safeguards in place, the organisation said.

Sean Reel, Ignite's executive director, said the organisation made the move online after getting an early warning from friends and business colleagues around the world that Covid-19 was going to impact the island.

Mr Reel said: “We saw what was coming this way and got ahead of it as a result. We were already testing and developing remote working using Zoom as our main platform. We switched pretty quickly to doing our coaching and mentoring on the Zoom platform.

He added: “We are more than capable of delivering the programme online.”

But he admitted of Covid-19: “I didn't realise how drastically it would change the whole way that business would operate on the planet.”

Remote initiatives include regular “temperature check” meetings with cohort members via Zoom or teleconferencing, and group seminars and cohort events held via Zoom.

A Zoom meeting held every Wednesday includes more than 100 entrepreneurs from Ignite's first two cohorts, and it's “Ignite light” programme. Those meetings also include Ignite special advisers, guests and key stakeholders for the discussion of coping strategies and to provide a forum to share ideas.

Ignite says it is also hosting a series of seminars focusing specifically on coping strategies and cash flow preservation for the entrepreneurial network, while Mr Reel and Laura Lyons of Ignite are working closely with those in the cohort whose businesses are particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact.

Mr Reel revealed: “Some people are finding it a challenging time emotionally, and some are finding it a challenging time financially.

“We have two bank accounts, one emotional and one financial. Some are getting beaten up in both bank accounts.”

The organisation recognised steps taken by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to redeploy its budget to help small businesses and said: “We hope our cohort can also take advantage of those measures.”

Sean Reel: Ignite Bermuda has been operating remotely for the past three weeks (File photograph)

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Published April 13, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 12, 2020 at 12:52 pm)

Ignite business accelerator continues online

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