Kick start your start-up with E-Spark

June 24, 2014

Jim Duffy, ‘Chief Executive Optimist’ of Entrepreneurial Spark reflects on his aim of kick-starting a not-for-profit entrepreneurial renaissance in Scotland back in 2012. He has gone on to establish three ‘Hatcheries’ located in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayrshire with an array of opportunities for start-ups in Scotland.


The so-called Hatcheries are home to over 150 businesses that we currently support – known as ‘Chiclets’ – where they receive up to 18 months free office space, resources including Wi-Fi and extensive mentoring in our tried and tested methods of ‘entrepreneuring’ – a term which we’ve even trademarked! This training comes from a plethora of mentors with a wide range of experience, including entrepreneurs in residence Sir Tom Hunter, Lord William Haughey, and Ann Gloag.

For the businesses that come into our Hatcheries, it’s as much about building entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours as it is about the free resources they need to assist them in growing. This approach has proved highly successful, demonstrated by the fact that 80% of the businesses that have been through our programme are still trading today. Last year, 280 early stage/growing ventures were supported, generating over 500 jobs and £15million for the economy.

The safe and collaborative environment that we provide has proven especially effective for nurturing creative businesses such as Up Next StudiosStart Digital, and IC Mobile Lab. Up Next Studios make films and music to help businesses promote their brands, products and services. Start Digital convert print publications into fully enhanced apps for iPads, tablets and smartphones, and create digital magazines from scratch.

We have helped IC Mobile Lab to push the boundaries of advertising by turning flat images into interactive 3D experiences, helping them build not only their network, but also develop the creative aspect of their business. Lee McLaughlin of IC Mobile Lab says himself that “I didn’t have too much of a network going into E-Spark and one of the best things about being in there every day was having like-minded, positive people to bounce ideas off of and discover creative ways to go about what I was doing.”

We accept applications on a rolling basis, with new entrants being taken in twice per year in February and August. The current application process closes at the end of June. A bi-annual event, Hatchery Hits the Street, is held at the 5 month mark after each intake both as a celebration of the progress the Chiclets have made and to give them the opportunity to showcase what they have learned in a pitching competition where they can win investment from key investors in the audience.

As we grow as a business, we continues to provide the unrivalled standard of support that helped make 2013 such a success, as demonstrated in our impact report. Applications are open now, so if you have an early stage or growing venture, apply now and don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity.