Since it was established 10 years ago, The Ingenuity Network has grown into a thriving community of over 1800 individuals. Here, we feature examples of how some of those individuals have benefited from working with the University of Nottingham. This month our featured member is Wendy Baird.
Wendy is joint owner of Carriages Cafe Bar, a Victorian-style cafe, at Newark Castle Station. As well as setting up and running the business, she has recently come up with an idea for the ecocuppa – a reuseable flask that combines helping the environment with offering customers a potential saving of 50p on their next hot drink! Talking about her relationship with the University, Wendy said:
“I’ve been involved with the University over a number of years after finding out about the range of courses run by them. With no academic background (I left school at 15) I’ve found the courses delivered by the University to be invaluable. Although I left school very young, I have always had an inquisitive nature and the University taps into that and offers knowledge and learning that, as a business owner working alone, more often than not, I wouldn’t usually have access to.”
Wendy was in the first cohort of the ‘Growth 100‘ programme delivered by Nottingham University Business School in conjunction with Nottingham City Council. The programme was designed to fit around the needs of running a business by offering twelve one-day practical sessions delivered over a nine month period. Opening up about how small businesses could benefit, Wendy explained:
“Being lucky enough to gain a place on the ‘Growth 100’ programme – an amazing year long course – I met some incredible people and learned a great deal about how to structure a company to get the very best out of it. Since then, I’ve been chosen to act as a mentor as ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ for budding entrepreneurs just starting out in the world, hearing about their brand new ideas for their businesses and sharing my experiences.
“Young businesses have so much to learn and having a mentor can make a huge difference, it certainly has to me! Just with simple things like having a sounding board to discuss ideas and processes which otherwise can be swilling around in your head with no direction, or having someone to guide you through the mire of skills that you have to develop when you have your own business for the first time.”
And of her latest venture, Wendy said:
“My association with the University has given me the extra confidence to explore new ideas too. My latest ‘creation’ is to address the issue of coffee cup wastage by introducing a system that other independent coffee shops and cafes can take advantage of. The ecocuppa… is a reuseable flask that can be used in a variety of locations allowing the customer to receive an automatic 50p off a hot drink when used in a participating cafe. Not only can this address the wastage problem while offering a customer the chance of a 50p discount, it also provides them with the opportunity to source and support other independent coffee shops, that they may not know exist, and make them part of their network.
“With the help of the University and the confidence that I’ve gained through its programmes, I have the support and access to the knowledge needed to take this new idea to the rest of the country. By joining together it’s possible that we can make a real difference. All I would say is, ‘watch this space’ for more information about progress as this innovation gains momentum.”
If you’d like to find out more about how your business could benefit from working with The University of Nottingham, why not sign up to our newsletter to join The Ingenuity Network? This will keep you updated with local business news and our latest events programme. And if you were inspired by Wendy’s description of taking part in Growth 100, you may be interested in applying for Unlocking Growth Potential, the University of Nottingham’s current business growth programme.