That’s the hope for more than 50 aspiring tech founders taking part in two new educational programmes for startups delivered by Opportunity North East.
Start-ups and existing businesses with a new tech idea are harnessing the latest technology advances, including blockchain, AI and IoT to create products and solutions for key sectors including energy, food & drink, health and wellbeing.
Opportunity North East is delivering activity to support and accelerate successful tech business creation with access to leading foundation start-up and scale up education, together with expert advice and mentoring.
Two new programmes for early stage tech start-ups have launched in 2022 in partnership with the UK’s leading tech incubator, CodeBase and supported by the Scottish Government’s North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF).
ONE CodeBase Tech Startup Fundamentals introduces aspiring founders at the pre start-up stage to the key concepts in tech product development to help them move their idea forward, while Tech Startup Next Steps is for people who have made a start on their tech product idea and want to learn how to get to the next stage of progress and growth, and secure investment.
Jen Scott, Senior Digital Development Manager, Opportunity North East said: “The level of interest and uptake in our early stage tech founder programmes demonstrates the incredible talent pool we have in the region of aspiring and early stage founders with great ideas looking for support and encouragement to take that idea to the next stage.
“We have a diverse cohort, including students, researchers and graduates from both RGU and the University of Aberdeen with new product ideas, as well as people working in industry who have recognised issues that could be solved with a tech product. We also have some established business owners who see an opportunity to diversify and scale their business through the creation of a tech product.”
Launched in January, Tech Startup Fundamentals introduces the key concepts of digital product development to arm would be founders with the key concepts to move forward. Interactive sessions help participants to understand what it takes to get from the idea phase to starting a business and product development through market validation, playbooks and peer review. It helps develop early stage ideas, frame, test and validate potential products and identify potential customers and markets.
Tech Startup Next Steps helps those who already have a tech business, or have completed the first programme, to go from minimum viable product to reaching the elusive 'product-market fit'. Areas covered include what to expect when you’re a new startup founder, how to approach building your team and getting further investment, and what to do when circumstances change and you’re forced to change course.
Jim Newbery, Director of Product Innovation, CodeBase said: “What makes these programmes different is that we don't focus on programming or technical skills and we don't teach general business skills. We focus on what’s unique about technology startups - and that’s all about iteration, rapid learning and understanding customers and markets to get to a point where you have a minimal viable product.
“Participants have come from a wide range of backgrounds including people from established industries like oil and gas, students with existing technology skills and from life sciences and hospitality.
“Key concepts we cover include understanding customers and markets, how you might conceive an idea for your startup that serves those customers and markets and to come up with ideas that can potentially create a company that can grow very quickly.
“The speakers and experts all have startup operator experience so participants are learning directly from people who have been there, done it before and made all the mistakes. The hope is by sharing this experience participants can avoid some of those mistakes and fast track to the next stage of success.
“Tech Start Up Next Steps, aims to help startups get to the elusive ‘product- market fit’, which is when customers are really demanding the product and almost pulling it from your hands, and that is ultimately where every startup wants to be!”
Regi Jacob, founder Intelligent Frame, participant in ONE CodeBase Tech Startup Fundamentals
For Reji Jacob, Tech Startup Fundamentals came at the perfect time for his new tech startup Intelligent Frame launched in March, which captures a range of health information and delivers health status in real time via an app. Reji is developing a prototype as part of his MSc in data science at RGU.
The idea for his product comes from six years working in the care sector and identifying a market for AI to address the growing gap between the shortage of people resource and the growing elderly population needing care.
Commenting on his startup journey Reji said: “One out of three people is now expected to live to the age of 100 and eight out of ten will have dementia. We simply don’t have the human resource to care for the aging population so technology has to kick in at some point.”
“My expertise is in the technical side but creating a product and taking it to market that is where I need help. Tech Startup Fudamentals has helped me understand the key concepts. Before this I knew nothing about the Business Model Canvas and how it can help with how you present the product, what’s the revenue potential, who is the key customer – all these pieces are now coming together in tandem with the product development.”
Fennex, participants in ONE CodeBase Tech Startup Fundamentals, receive Offshore Achievement Award for Digital Innovation
Established in 2016 Fennex specialise in the development of AI driven software solutions to accelerate digital transformation in the offshore energy sector. Co founder Nassima Menasria Brown recognises the benefit creating a tech product spin out could have as they look to scale the business.
“With an existing breakthrough technology innovation related to safety observation automation within the oil & gas industry, the opportunity and challenge for us at Fennex is how to scale that innovation not only across the energy industry but also other high-hazard industries.”
“Having been in business for six years, initially I didn’t think tech startups was the programme for us. But speaking to the team at ONE it became clear that to successfully shift to a scalable tech product we needed to think and behave like a startup again.
“It's not about coding or developing the technology - it's about understanding how this technology will fix the problems of the target customer. Entrepreneurs often come up with the solution without