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Barclays Black Founder Accelerator 2021:
InterSTEM

 

InterSTEM is an independent consultancy based in Cambridge that specialise in talent attraction, recruitment, development and retention.

Keeping our client’s goals at the core of our solutions, here at InterSTEM, we pride ourselves on working with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector companies in an honest, consultative and professional manner.

Why did you join the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator?

To learn new ways for me to run my business, improve / add new process and increase skills. I am doing well so far, but I am hoping to accelerate my success and growth. I also joined to grow my network and be part of a black professionals network, as well as having the opportunity to help support their growth.
 

Why did you want to start your business?

I want to be a black role model in sector where black people are underrepresented. I want help enrich the legacies of individuals, businesses by discovering the talent of those that believe advancements within STEM can make a positive impact to local, national, and global communities.
 

What would be your desired outcome from this programme?

Stronger network to support my business growth. Investment opportunities, better knowledge in my weaker business operation areas. Exposure to more clients, candidates, and new business opportunities.
 

Which entrepreneur inspires you the most and why?

I respect the likes of Richard Branson, and Alan Sugar for their ability to build something from scratch and diversify their business portfolio, but if I were to choose one entrepreneur that 'inspires' me the most, it would be The Black Farmer - Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones.

I learned about his journey having seen his face on the cover of The Harvard Business Review magazine which I went on to buy, read and keep.

As a black man, he carved out his own space in a sector that is absolutely known for being a 'white man's sector' in the UK. Not only did he successfully do this, he leant in to the fact he was black to differentiate himself, he did not hide the fact he was black, he made it his strength.
 

What has been your biggest win in your entrepreneurial journey?

Surviving 2020, my 2nd full year of trading!

After realising that my business was too small and new to receive any beneficial grants to support me, I realised that no saving grace was going to come and save me, so I had to work harder than ever to keep my business alive.

I successfully increased my revenues in year 2 from year 1, and had a good year! - New clients, good consistent turnover, made it to year 3 and 'fought' for my freedom as a business owner and entrepreneur.

During that time, I also thought very creatively about ways to diversify my services, and implemented these during 2020. - This was a big win, because it required me to be resilient, perform, maintain focus, think creatively to solve solutions for clients, but also to find new revenue streams and juggle all of these things at the same time. Oh, and get married while this was all happening.

What has been your biggest challenge?

There are two key moments that come to mind:

  1. Lockdown - The lack of human interaction and ability to socialise, find down time and essentially spending about 18 hours per day in one room every day, keeping focused, able to deliver for my clients and motivated was very challenging.
  2. Knowing when to hire someone on a full time basis. I was excited by the idea of someone supporting the growth of the business from the end of year 1, but knowing when to commit has been challenging as I do not want to ruin something that has been going well, but I know I need to invest in staff in order to grow. My first hire starts on Tuesday 16th Nov. and I have bitten the bullet. 
     

Where did you go for business advice and how did it help you?

I read books, think about my options and draw up (lots of) scenarios and when I was thinking about diversifying my services, I spoke and paid (!) a friend of a friend that runs a marketing agency, for several "consultancy support" days.
 

What drives you to make your business a success?

I want to be a black role model in sector where black people are underrepresented.

Fear of failure.

An indescribable need to continuously improve,

If my business succeeds, I will helping so many other businesses succeed.

The only future I have envisaged for my self, requires me to be successful, so the way I see it is that the only things between where I am now and where I would like to be are the hard work and networking required to get me there.
 

What advice would you give other founders thinking about starting their own business?

Be ready to work hard

Ask for help

It's a marathon, not a sprint, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster

Get your numbers right, plan for the best, realistic and worst case scenario.

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