Startup Discovery School helps diverse founders grow. It is an online programme delivered by founders, mentors and investors aimed at enabling first-time founders from all backgrounds to scale their businesses. They’ve had a cadre of notable cheerleaders from Amazon AWS, Atomico, Ada Ventures to Mathys & Squire. “We believe high-quality founders can be found anywhere, but the skills and networks available to first-time founders aren’t easily accessible” says co-founder Mandy Nyarko.
“At Startup Discovery School we are disrupting the notion
that only the privileged or most well connected can succeed in entrepreneurship”
(Mandy Nyarko, Co-Founder)
Startup Discovery School was set up by Nyarko and Gosbert Chagula who met working at Exeter Velocities where the former was Managing Director and Gosbert (‘Gos’) was the Ecosystem Manager. Exeter Velocities was established in 2017 in response to the goals of the City of Exeter who had the desire to build a strong forward-thinking entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. Under the stewardship of Nyarko, Exeter Velocities helped accelerate the development of commercial and social enterprises that responded to environmental and social challenges and contributed to ‘the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive Exeter’ as set up out the city’s mandate. Nyarko and Chagula set up Startup Discovery School in early 2020.
“I thought to myself how can I make a difference. How can I use my experience of working with over 200 early-stage businesses? How can I use my unique understanding of the journey of an entrepreneur from concept or idea to sustainability? How can I use these skills to work with the operators who have the desire to start a business and be an entrepreneur, and support them on their journey to creating a credible investable sustainable business?
And this is the reason why I started The Startup Discovery School: to support all startups who have kicked off their business idea but are struggling to grow it, due to lack of business experience, investor networks and resources. The purpose of The Startup Discovery School is to help early-stage founders prove their value before raising investment, achieve organic growth and build a pathway to sustainability and wealth creation. Our cohorts are diverse because we believe that diverse teams provide better value than teams that a non-diverse. We firmly believe that being around people who are from different backgrounds can expose you to new ways of thinking, new ways to grow quickly and of course a new network.
We offer peer to peer bi-weekly workshops, access to our community of experienced founders who have exited, scaled and secured investment in their businesses; access to founders in our network who have been bought by larger companies such as DPD or have secured millions in investment and have their products in stores such as Wholefoods, Planet Organic, Selfridges and Harrods. We provide one-to-one strategy sessions with expert mentors and give our founders access to investor communities across and Europe and the US”.
“What we realised wasn’t about a lack of ‘general’ schemes for minority founders – those do exist – but where there was an issue is the kind of ‘next stage’ support for these founders. Especially the brilliant ones. What happens once you’ve got early success, early customers, early revenue et cetera? Where is that bridge to Series A or B? What happens there? It’s at this point that support seems to tail off. And this where we come in.
I’m responsible for the overall curriculum design and delivery of both Incubator and Accelerator programmes and oversee the recruitment and on-boarding of all new participants. We have worked with about 40 founders so far, composed of 60% women and 52% BAME participants.
But it’s in this space we typically work with companies in – that next level stage. They may have already been in the public eye, had early success of some sort, even growing revenues… but now they’re now looking to really grow. Importantly, they’re looking to really systematise their business and processes. We get businesses that have got a little stuck at this point and need new perspectives and that’s typically why they’ve joined our programme. Our experience and programmes help define, refocus or realign and accelerate. We work with our founders to build long-term sustainable businesses; helping them get the networks, skills and capital they need to get through the gears and levels to serious success”.
Find our more about Startup Discovery School at https://startupdiscoveryschool.com/