Eddie has run his own businesses since the age of 16, and when he turned 19 he received funding from the Princes Trust to start a property service business. Having experienced the benefits of mentoring first hand through his relationship with The Princes Trust, he decided to become a volunteer mentor for the charity.
Eddie acted as volunteer mentor for three years and during this time realised that young people starting their own business often need more support than a traditional mentor was able to give. He also knew how difficult it was for young entrepreneurs to afford premises, particularly in the more fashionable areas of London such as Shoreditch. Tech start ups especially need to be in this area for networking opportunities as its known as London’s version of Silicon Valley. These issues gave Eddie the idea to start Launchpad Labs, a charity helping support young people starting their own businesses.
Launchpad Labs offers cheap workspace and aims to create a community within its premises – a place where people can offer advice and guidance to each other and can collaborate on new or existing ideas. The business doesn’t provide funding, but signposts service users to schemes such Start Up Loans. The local MP Megan Hiller, has been really supportive of the charity and has even managed to get a mention of Launchpad Labs in the Queen’s speech.
Today Launch22 is establishing itself as the leading charity supporting the entrepreneur, not the business itself. Eddie just opened new premises in Liverpool, which are 3 times larger than his London office and he is hoping to expand to Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Belfast. These are areas that Eddie has identified as needing help to promote and support their young entrepreneurs. For example, Liverpool has the lowest rates of enterprise per capita.
Launch 22 has 9 full time employees and 30 volunteer mentors. Eddie notes that while starting a business may be one of the hardest things to do in life, failure is not regarded as an option, unlike other challenges in life such as riding a bike. Launch22 aims to challenge that notion and change the culture within the UK in which people are afraid of failure.
As a charity, Launch22 has a strong social mission. Some 30% of the space it provides for enterprising startups is free and available to those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Eddie says that he is stepping in to cover for market failure and that the government is currently largely only interested in promoting companies that will make a significant profit rather than those that can contribute to communities and wellbeing.
In 2016 Launch 22 was able to establish a mentoring program with 15 mentors giving free mentoring to their members. They are also relaunching a scholarship program and continuing to do events with leaders in the start up industry. Since starting up, Launch 22 has accommodated 450 businesses and entrepreneurs, held 350 educational events, given 5,000 hours of business mentoring and helped 50 unemployed people into work or onto training programs. Launch 22 continues to help start up businesses in the UK and aims to eventually have 15 hubs across the country.
Launch 22 has also recently secured Yasminda Siadatan as a trustee for the company. She was a co-founder of the Start Up Loans scheme and also was the fifth winner of the TV show ‘The Apprentice’ in 2009.