Tafflab is an RSA-supported initiative in which a number of RSA Fellows in Wales have proudly helped nurture and grow. Here, Kathy Seddon explains the latest for Tafflab, as they support the next generation of Welsh entrepreneurs by sharing skills and expertise through a mentoring programme.
The Tafflab project was set up to enable young entrepreneurs from three FE colleges in the South Wales Valleys to fulfil their business dreams. A unique partnership began.
Students at Coleg y Cymoedd (CYC) Coleg Gwent (CG) and Coleg Merthyr (CM) were asked …
Do you dream of developing your own business? Have you got an idea but lack the funds and the expertise to take it further?
Three cohorts of Tafflab award winners have responded to the challenge since 2015 and have set up their own successful business. They have been helped by three kinds of support:
- A small financial prize to purchase equipment, websites and other materials.
- Matching with a College enterprise mentor and an RSA Fellow, to help them set up and establish their business.
- Whole group meetings every two months where the energy and support from mentors and peers is remarkable.
The scheme goes from strength to strength as the process evolves and is improved.
The first cohort saw four very different businesses take off. Ceiron was setting up a cleaning business and needed help and training to move into the forensic cleaning market. Jess was creating drama workshops to help young people gain confidence in particular those with mental illness. Tara had created a complete mobile wedding service and Amber was using her patisserie catering skills in the party and events market. All were also full time students studying for qualifications in their fields of expertise
The second cohort included Lee, a prop maker, who took commissions through his website and also supplied props for Charity Events at cost. Daniel had concerns about fitness in young people and thus runs holiday training events in various sports in the Merthyr area. Maja set up a very successful makeup business and was gaining experience with event and television companies. Alys won a number of awards for her cake making business and helped everyone with her remarkable success on social media (twenty thousand plus followers for her business website
The third cohort was slightly larger with Charlotte gaining a lot of help from Lee as she set up her costume and prop business. She has worked for the BBC and has gained specialist qualifications in teaching how to make weaponry. She hopes to develop the teaching side of her business. Keiran is managing a family run garage, providing an ethical service to the local areas. He has a clear vision of treating all customers fairly and has a growing reputation, with his female technician, in providing such a service.
Leon is not only creating a very successful barbering service, he also wants to pass on skills and is completing a PGCE. His design background means he is also looking at how equipment can be improved. Dafydd launched his business with the support of TfL and Sadiq Khan’s office. He has built a unique multifunctional app that is independent of wifi black spots. He will expand to other cities and niche markets.
Sian is creating a unique cross college business enterprise where products made from recycled material by students in a number of departments (metalwork, woodwork etc) are sold in citywide pop up shops by college business students.
The success of Tafflab has been due to the energy and enthusiasm of the young entrepreneurs but also due to their mentors. The three colleges have their own business support leads and these have been unstinting in the help they have given to make Tafflab a success.: Lesley at CYC, Chris at CM and Sam at CG. Karen Phillips FRSA Deputy Principal CYC and John O’Shea FRSA Principal CM have been central to the projects success
There is a long list of FRSA mentors who have been outstanding and have been very generous in the time the have given freely to help the young entrepreneurs. Thanks to current FRSA mentors: Peter Wright, John Middleton, Tamsin Sterling, Meirion Morgan, Rod Ashley, and Gareth Jones. Special thanks must also go to Rudi Plaut FRSA and David Henderson FRSA who have sponsored some of this yeas cohort.
We now have a very successful and scaleable template that we would hope to see used to help increasing numbers of young entrepreneurs in the future.
Find out more here: https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/fellowship-projects/fellowship/taff-lab.
To get involved, get in touch with Charlotte Holloway, Wales Manager at Charlotte.Holloway@rsa.org.uk.