The startups world has its share of glory and pain. But with a littlehelp from our friends at LaunchPad Labs we might just live through it. This startup charity situated in the heart of Tech City offersworkspace to entrepreneurs, scholarships to support the disadvantagedand mentoring services from experts to get businesses up and running.The perfect environment for innovation to flow and ideas to flourish. David Hardman, tells us how it all came to be.
Interview by WBIB team.
The startups world has its share of glory and pain. But with a little help from our friends at LaunchPad Labs we might just live through it. This startup charity situated in the heart of Tech City offers workspace to entrepreneurs, scholarships to support the disadvantaged and mentoring services from experts to get businesses up and running. The perfect environment for innovation to flow and ideas to flourish. David Hardman, tells us how it all came to be.
Interview by WBIB team.
What ignited the spark in you to start this initiative?
I co-founded LaunchPad Labs with my cousin, Eddie Holmes, in 2013 to create a physical, collaborative space for the increasing number of startups that was designed by entrepreneurs. Eddie has been an entrepreneur in the UK for over a decade, and has experience in social enterprises assisting small business through being both a former mentee and current mentor for the Prince’s Trust. His time there sparked his realisation that the gap in service provision for startups who didn’t fit a certain criteria around the UK was vast, and sent him searching for someone who shared his passion for business and helping others. He rang me up while I was over in Australia. I immediately agreed to move over to London!
My background with Non-Governmental Organisations in South-East Asia and Australia shaped my passion for helping others, and my experience there led me to perceive economic empowerment as the real driving force for poverty reduction in the developing world.
How did the idea for your business come about?
As entrepreneurs ourselves, we see LaunchPad Labs’ rapid expansion as evidence of a gap in the market. The lack of high-quality business support for early-stage entrepreneurs is a major problem in the UK. A lot has been done by other organisations to nurture that initial ‘spark’, but if startups can’t afford the rent, don’t know who to ask for help, or aren’t plugged in to a dynamic community they are going to find it much harder to succeed.
How does one feel breathing in a space that brims over with ideas?
I wish I had more time for breathing! It’s been a fantastic, but very taxing, journey so far. Maybe next year I’ll have time! This space is amazing, and I am so happy that our idea, a very simple one at that, has resonated with so many different people and organisation. Our story will be told in 3 cities around the UK as of next year, and a bunch more on top of that quite soon after!
What are the most challenging parts of being involved in the startup sector, professionally and personally?
Professionally, the rapid change means that you have to be structurally mobile, changeable, scalable, able to reduce in size instantly, able to throw your idea away, pick something else up, dust yourself off and politely ask someone for a million pound investment! I didn’t have any time for a personal life, so I convinced my mate to move into startups. He’s a community manager at Techhub now, we see each other every few weeks when we bump into each other in the kitchen of our flat! haha
What is the next LaunchPad event we should watch out for?
The next large event we’re hosting is our Halloween party on the 30th of October. With all of the success of our Oktoberfest BBQ, we are shamelessly copy/pasting that. Cheap beer, good food, good company, loud music, exciting startups: everything you want out of Thursday night!
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Never give up your drive. The value in acting on your idea isn’t the idea itself (trust me, it’s not revolutionary), but the acting. Most people sit back and watch others innovate, fail succeed. You will never be able to succeed if you never try. I pick up a new idea in my cereal box every morning; but the will to act, to probably fail, to knowingly change your life to give your idea the best chance, once you find that never give it up.
For more information on LaunchPad Labs, visit www.launchpadlabs.co.uk