Written By Denislav Ivanov
June 17, 2022 was a day of celebration – Mike Stephens (my boss, programme lead at Transform SY and CEO at Entrepreneurial Spark) and I were hosting an event to recognise and honour the founders from Cohort 1 on Transform SY who have successfully completed the accelerator’s 1st ever iteration in South Yorkshire.
The results were positive – 6 months of support led to more than 10 jobs created, few companies made first revenue, one company – Ferrio, raised investment from local investment firm and friend of the accelerator Mandashi, and the feedback we received about the accelerator was positive and encouraging to continue with our mission to empower local entrepreneurs to dream big and execute consistently.
Thus, as early as July 2022 we hosted a 2-day Boot Camp with 11 entrepreneurs to kick off Transform SY Cohort 2 – and it was a blast! The mix of people evoked curiosity and spurred interesting conversations – we had edTech founders, prevention medicine company, SaaS developers, BD reps from charities (!), serial entrepreneurs with product businesses, complete rookies both still in university or with Ph.Ds – the quality of people is one of the best things about Cohort 2, and with many of the involved I will stay in touch long after the programme finished.
In total, we spent 4 months and 8 days together with the entrepreneurs on the programme – delivering bi-weekly workshops on topics ranging from ‘Finance for Growth’ to ‘Self-awareness’ and ‘Building a team & Culture’ and giving our entrepreneurs an access to 15 fantastic mentors from the region like Hannah Duraid, Simon Biltcliffe and Mark Hughes. But the staple of Transform SY is the 1to1 enablement sessions – a business/life coaching and mentoring hybrid method exclusive to our company that has proven successful throughout the decade we’ve delivered support to entrepreneurs.
The most important part of an accelerator are the companies – and ours did a lot while with us. Hero of Health, founded by Linda Mizun and a team of medical professionals, took on the mission to help millions reverse non-transferrable diseases with an innovative community-based approach and has been featured in national media while getting closer and closer to raising their first round of investment. But most importantly – Linda has built a community of engaged members who reverse their diseases and help the team deliver more activities like walks and cooking lessons!
Others like Grant Ripley and Craig Malcolm at TieTek started the programme with £0 in revenue and now have over £300 000 in the pipeline, with more to come in 2023. They are helping non-technical founders build technical MVPs cheaper and faster.
But companies on Transform didn’t only grow revenue – Link Learning, who also grew their customer base (getting their 1000th one in October), hired 2 new employees in their efforts to provide quality musical lessons in every school in the UK, while Adam Derradji from Studio Nefce is onboarding two new video game developers to help him develop his attention economy-fighting game. And Alex Street from GoodThing – a platform for charities, volunteers and businesses to work in symbiose and provide benefits for each other, grew the number of charities registered.
When we say we are a people accelerator, we mean it. Founders like Lenka Mudrich joined the cohort not knowing what being a founder is and without a clear problem to solve, having completed a Ph.D. in AI and with no entrepreneurial experience. Her journey has been rocky, challenging and straight up difficult – but she keeps persevering and recently pivoted towards a different model of her AI solution to help families with their grocery shopping, especially related to the cost of living crisis and food quality. Lenka’s dedication to use her skills for this cause is commendable.
‘Starting a business is like starting an extreme sport – it is way easier and safer with great instructors, and that is what you get with Transform SY. I am leaving Transform SY with new skills and a great network, which are both critical to my company’s success.’, Lenka said.
Ben Dawson from Collab Q&A delivering the first pitch at Transform SY’s Cohort 2 Close-Out Event
This past November, on a cold Friday afternoon, we completed the second cohort too, with 11 founders pitching in front of their peers, partners and friends of the accelerator at Electric Works. We also had founders from Cohort 1 there and it was great to reconnect with some of them like Darren Forde from Samdai and see how they’ve developed since June. The business world is ruthless and seeing them thrive is warming.
I will remember this cohort through my individual experiences with them – helping Linda with her slide deck at Hygge (my remote working destination and best coffee shop in Sheffield), surveying hungry students about their shopping and cooking habits with Lenka, talking in front of computer science students from University of Sheffield regarding entrepreneurship, with 2 members of the cohort – Alex and Ben Dawson from Collab Q&A, being in the audience, and meeting Grant and Craig at multiple events all around South Yorkshire, including in Barnsley and Rotherham.
I wish them all a successful end of the year and a stellar 2023 and beyond!
All participants in Transform SY Cohort 2:
Linda Mizun from Hero of Health – preventing non-transferrable diseases
Joshua Daniels from Supe – a healthy energy drink for gamers
Ben Dawson from Collab Q&A – collaborative university tool for revisions
Lenka Mudrich from Vyoo – using AI to help people with cost of living crisis and food quality
Alex Street from GoodThing – allowing charities to recognise volunteers with a variety of perks
Grant Ripley and Craig Malcolm from TieTek – helping non-technical startups build technical MVPs
Adam Derradji from Studio Nefce – game studio building a game helping people focus on what matters
Sam Richardson from Link Learning – providing quality musical lessons to all schools in the UK