Entrepreneurs take their places at hub

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THE brightest and best digital entrepreneurs in Yorkshire are set to take their place at a dynamic hub.

The Digital Hub in Leeds provides self-motivated entrepreneurs with the opportunity to blossom in a stimulating environment, where they can mix with kindred spirits.

A new crop of fledgling entrepreneurs is about to join the hub after undergoing a gruelling selection process. They will join the first batch of business people who are thriving after setting up a base in the heart of Leeds.

The new recruits are Joseph Pennington, of Co-Crop, Syed Zaidi, of UK Site and Blueclicks, and Raymond Pelekamoyo, of Imartmedia.

The Yorkshire Post is partnering with Leeds Metropolitan University in a scheme that helps new digital companies to achieve their growth potential.

The Digital Hub in Leeds provides flexible city centre office space, mentoring and training services and the opportunity to work with like-minded people in a collaborative environment.

Hub businesses can also benefit from regular exposure in our business pages. Organisers are looking for early stage, start-up and established companies to join the programme.

Steve Baker, a successful software entrepreneur who now works with QU2, the university’s business support service, will provide expert mentoring. Law firm DWF and accountancy practice WGN will provide professional services and The Yorkshire Post will provide media training.

The first tenants, The UK App Company, Immedia, phase90, Snowball Digital and The Capture Lab, moved in last month.

They pitched to a Dragons’ Den-style panel of entrepreneurs and advisers.

Although he’s only been based in the hub for a month, Rob Julian, the director of The Capture Lab, is already reaping the benefits of being able to swap ideas with other entrepreneurs.

He said: “It’s a great space to come and work, and you can really concentrate on developing your business.

“It’s given me the chance to meet new people, rub shoulders with them and get ideas. It’s encouraging to find out that there’s a lot more people coming in as well.

“The best thing about being your own boss is that you control the direction the business is going in. You’ve got different people you can call on when you need them.

“The Capture Lab helps to give online businesses a shop window. We can give them a real identity.

“There’s a ‘wow’ factor about being in the hub. It gives you the confidence, it’s super professional and very modern.”

The members of the judging panels that have scrutinised the applicants for space in the hub have included internet entrepreneur Ajaz Ahmed, Neil Warnock, a seasoned entrepreneur who has built three IT start-ups into multi-million pound businesses, Katie Rigarlsford, head of Enterprise Academy at Leeds Met, Helen Oldham, the managing director of Johnston Press Yorkshire and The Yorkshire Post’s Business Editor Bernard Ginns.

Mr Warnock, of Leeds-based Bluesmith Information Systems, said afterwards: “The new hub is a digital entrepreneur’s dream – a fusion of technology business incubation and collaborative co-working space.

“Not only is physical infrastructure and business support taken care of, the opportunities for innovation, creativity and knowledge-sharing are ama-zing.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: “This is an excellent initiative. “It builds on the strong foundation of creative and digital businesses that have been the hallmark of the Leeds economy.”