End of year message from our Chairman, Simon Nicholas:
This year has been another period of tremendous growth for Bridge – Bridge has moved into its new home, recruited a Marketing Assistant and the services of two 3rd party suppliers to help deliver the Bridge strategy but most importantly helped countless young businesses to shape their strategic plans and support them through their next phase of growth. All of this could not have been possible without the tireless work of the Bridge team (Katie, Callum, John and Voirrey), our mentors who give their free time willingly and the contributions both in time and money from our generous sponsors. Many thanks to Roberta at Continent8, Mike atSure, Chris at PDMS, Jo at Dandara and of course to my team at KPMG.
Bridge looks forward to working closely with the Department for Enterprise as the Enterprise Development Scheme transitions from Spark Impact to the DfE team. The EDS remains a very attractive feature of the IOM start-up offering and a draw to the island for young companies with huge potential.
2018 review - another busy year!
It’s been a busy 12 months for the Bridge team, we continue to focus on nurturing and promoting sustainable entrepreneurship in the Isle of Man. Since our launch in May 2016 Bridge has met with over 180 start-ups and entrepreneurs and 65% of those met, have received free mentoring and support from Bridge's sponsors and team of volunteer mentors.
A hugely important part of the Bridge strategy is to facilitate real connections between entrepreneurs and private investors through regular pitch and networking events, where start-ups present viable business opportunities to Bridge's growing list of registered investors.
During the course of 2018 we held 12 events for entrepreneurs and investors and now have over 90 registered investors on our database, all of whom receive regular invitations to our pitch events, plus regular investment opportunities and summaries by email. We're very proud to report that 13% of the companies introduced through these communication channels have received local investment funding which compares favourably to the UK.
This reflects the appetite for investors to invest locally – investing not only in the start- up but the future of the Isle of Man as a destination of choice for high growth young companies. UKBAA stats show that 69% of angel investors prefer to invest within their home regions.
Bridge works with entrepreneurs across all key sectors, all of whom are at various stages of their business journey, which can range from those with just an idea and minimal business experience, to those that have successfully scaled and exited multiple ventures and who are exploring their next business idea. Not surprisingly, there is a strong tech focus with 60% of companies met representing the growing Tech, Biomed and Digital Media sectors.
We’ve been pleased with the growing number of requests from companies wanting to join the network and pitch at our quarterly events and the next event will take place on 30th January.
Collaborating to grow the entrepreneurial eco-system
We are passionate about the development of the island’s entrepreneurial eco-system and as a network, the entrepreneur and investor community is at the heart of what we do. During the summer we made a bold move and took up residence in the Barclays Eagle Lab, the new co-working space in Victoria Street and have since collaborated on a number of events, including ‘The Journey of an Entrepreneur’ alongside TISE, DfE and Greenwave Accounts. This collaborative approach includes working closely with our contacts at Isle of Media, Junior Achievement IOM plus the latest co-working space in Castletown, the Engine House.June saw us celebrate our 2nd Birthday party and entrepreneurship on the Isle of Man. The evening event brought together almost 100 guests including investors, entrepreneurs and senior members of the business community, who have worked with or supported Bridge since its formation in 2016.
2018 Event Highlights
Highlights include our pitch events, where we provided a platform for investors to meet and hear pitches from start or scale-up businesses, seeking capital investment. We also had great fun organising and hosting Pitch It! a live pitching contest for budding entrepreneurs, the final of which took place at ISLEXPO2018 in May. Six finalists went head to head to present their business ideas to a panel of experienced investors, entrepreneurs and a live audience, whilst also receiving free coaching from speaker coach and presenter, Sian Jones.
In August Bridge made the move to its new home in the Barclays Eagle Lab, a state of the art co-working and maker space where entrepreneurs are encouraged to create, innovate and grow.
In September we welcomed our new Marketing Assistant, Callum Rowley, who is studying his Level 3 CIM qualification on Island, supported by the DfE Marketing Apprenticeship Scheme.
In October, we were delighted to welcome Roderick Beer, Strategic Relation Director Director at the UKBAA to the Island. Roderick hosted a workshop on behalf of Bridge entitled 'Effective Angel Investment' at the Eagle Lab.
November saw Bridge shortlisted as a finalist in the 'Freedom to Flourish' category at this year's Isle of Man Newspaper's Awards for Excellence. The event was a sell out and a great platform on which to promote the good work achieved since Bridge was founded.
We finished off a busy and productive year with our informal Christmas drinks reception earlier this month at Bath & Bottle, with over 60 people in attendance.
Looking ahead for 2019
As the year draws to a close, our sights are firmly set on our 2019 Strategy and with our events programme for Q1 already confirmed, we’ll be hitting the ground running after the Christmas break! The first of our events for 2019 will be a Junior Achievement Alumni event where we’ll be running a workshop for the JA Company programme students and the budding entrepreneurs of the future.
Next up is a panel debate ‘Choosing the right business model for your startup’ with guest speakers from our sponsor companies PDMS, Sure and Continent 8 Technologies and on 13th February we’ll be running our first Speed Networking Breakfast with Bridge. To find out more, head over to the new events page on our website.
Warmest wishes for an excellent Christmas and success in 2019.