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Start-up success amid business uncertainty at NatWest’s London Accelerator Hub

NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme is helping start-ups despite research showing that Britain’s entrepreneurial aspirations have fallen since the EU referendum.

New research from a NatWest survey of more than 5,500 adults in the UK has shown that Britain’s entrepreneurial aspirations have fallen since the EU referendum, with almost one in five surveyed citing ‘Brexit uncertainty’ as one of the biggest barriers to starting a new business.

The research also revealed that millennials, often portrayed as risk takers, see more barriers to starting a business than the general population. While one in ten young people reported to be in the process of starting their own business or enterprise in 2012, this has fallen to just two per cent in July 2018.

NatWest’s support for entrepreneurs

NatWest is helping budding entrepreneurs through this challenging climate with its UK-wide network of 12 Entrepreneur Accelerator Hubs - the UK’s largest fully funded business accelerator network.
Through the accelerator programme, NatWest has given nearly 4,000 entrepreneurs support for growing and scaling their business. The hubs provide access to mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching in vibrant, collaborative environments with free WiFi, desks and presentation spaces.

In a recent visit to the Entrepreneur Accelerator Hub in London, six entrepreneurs involved in the programme were invited to pitch their ideas to Les Matheson, NatWest’s CEO of Personal & Business Banking.

Les Matheson said: “I am so energised by the great work happening at the London Entrepreneur Accelerator Hub and I heard some fantastic ideas today from our ambitious entrepreneurs. NatWest’s tried and tested accelerator programme has already had a significant impact on the start-up community, supporting nearly 4,000 entrepreneurs over the past three years who, in turn, have raised £225 million in cumulative investment and created more than 8,000 jobs. The businesses supported in these hubs have a remarkable one-year survival rate of 87 per cent, well above the national average of 50 per cent. This is good for them, good for us and ultimately, good for the economy.”

Included in the pitching group were Elizabeth Tweedale of Cypher, whose business is teaching children the essential skill of coding, Daphnee Hocquard of Unibox, herself a millennial who has created a subscription box of treats and practical essentials for university students, and Alex Shevelenko of Relayto, who is using his tech know-how to turn PDF documents into interactive, visual experiences for business presentations of the future.

Daphnee Hocquard, Founder of The Unibox, said: “I had decided to go for it by myself and was working from home - which is a very lonely way to start a new business! Joining the NatWest Accelerator has not only transformed my business but also helped me grow as an entrepreneur. Being in an empowering environment such as the hub has been essential to get the right mindset in order to tackle the challenges that come with building a business, and has made the journey that much more enjoyable. My business has grown tenfold since I joined and I can't imagine having achieved this without the Accelerator.”

Alex Shevelenko, CEO and Founder of Relayto, said: “I like to think of any disruption such as Brexit as an opportunity for new ideas, new ways of working, and new ways to do more with less resources. Since joining the NatWest Accelerator, Relayto document experience software has helped our clients receive more than 15 digital, creative and communication awards in the UK and globally. And we ourselves have been recognised as one of 50 most disruptive European start-ups. NatWest has had a huge part to play in all of this. We love being part of the Accelerator because we share a purpose with NatWest to deliver an innovative customer experience.”

Elizabeth Tweedale, CEO of Cypher, added: “My time in the NatWest Accelerator Hub has been invaluable to both myself and my business. As a female founder and mother, I have found the hub to be an incredibly welcoming and supportive environment. Over the past year with the support of the acceleration managers, my business has grown by more than 500 per cent.”

Read the full research from the NatWest Enterprise Tracker.

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