Anna Renouf’s business idea stemmed from her own experience of having to invest time and money to bring a horse back to health from injuries caused by an ill-fitting saddle. Anna identified a gap in the market and designed the first saddle which concentrated on the comfort and wellbeing of the horse as well as the rider.
Through the Pathfinder Accelerator programme, Anna has been given the opportunity to fast-track her business and help launch her product.
You can hear how the programme has benefitted Anna in a series of blogs we will be sharing following her Pathfinder journey.
Blog Post 5
I am honoured to have been accepted onto the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Programme. As one of only 20 early-stage businesses to have been selected, it really is a privilege.
The knowledge and experience I have gained through Pathfinder has been invaluable in securing this award. The time we have taken to perfect our pitches was put to test in a real environment when I was invited pitch and then spend around 20 minutes answering questions on my business.
Ahead of this, I approached one of the Pathfinder coaches, Danny, who offered extremely useful insight and helped me prepare for this daunting experience.
We have now started a summer break from our weekly sessions, but as always the wrap around tutoring is available.
The break allows us to spend time reflecting on everything we have been taught and further develop our business plans and work on our pitch for our Pathfinder grand finale.
At this event all the Pathfinder participants will present their final pitch to an audience of potential investors and hopefully all of the hard work and learning from the programme will come to fruition for our businesses and products.
As the weekly Pathfinder sessions progress, it really does cover every area for new and growing businesses, including important legal matters and company structures.
The tutors have advised us on company documentation – in particular, articles of association and shareholders’ agreements – as well as intellectual property, trademark, copyright status and patents. We also looked at equity and sources of funding, and what kind of company documentation investors expect to see from a credible business.
For me, this all reinforced the importance of having everything in black and white to ensure you maintain control over your business.
As well as useful group sessions, we also receive one-to-one coaching in Pathfinder and I received tailored advice on licencing for my product.
The dynamic of the group is continuing to develop and, although we all have very different products and are at different stages of our business life, everyone is benefitting from sharing their experiences.
Having access to the knowledge and expertise throughout the course is proving to be really valuable.
We have been taught a ‘preparation – curiosity – systematic’ approach and the importance of doing your homework and having answers to every eventuality before going to meet a prospect.
Pathfinder is about getting everything to work together, pulling all the separate strands of expertise and knowledge into a solid business model. It’s not just about the product – it’s about what you do with it.
For my own business I originally expected to deal with sales directly to keep control of my product, but following a number of profiling exercises, I am now considering licensing as an option due to the huge manufacturing set up costs.
We refer to these as ‘ah-ha’ moments, where make a key decision which really impacts on our business and product moving forward. Through Pathfinder, I think all of the participants have had ‘ah-ha’ moments from the insight we have gained through the programme.
The tutors have provided a masterclass on sales and have spent time focusing on finance for our businesses - covering everything from the changing face of accountancy, to practical packages that can make a real difference to our day-to-day operations.
We have also invested a significant amount of time on perfecting our pitches, with the group having the opportunity to practice a three-minute pitch to a potential group of investors on several occasions.
During these exercises we were given honest and constructive criticism by the tutors and fellow participants, all of which will help improve our performance when it comes to pitching in a real environment.
I am finding Pathfinder is intensive – in a good way - and it is forcing me to consider all aspects of my business.
It offers a structured approach to testing, each week building on from previous learning, and the expert guidance is really valuable.
We have looked at exploring an overall vision for our business and spent time psychometric profiling. We have also looked at segmentation and targeted marketing, and the pricing of our products and services.
The expert tutors have taught us how we can bring our own strengths to the business, then recruit to complement them. I discovered there was no such thing as a wrong profile and it’s possible to train yourself to carry out other aspects of the business that don’t come as naturally – you just won’t enjoy them as much!
The programme constantly forces you to test assumptions and question propositions to ensure the direction of your product or service is market-driven.
Between each weekly session, you have homework to complete. It is a big investment of your time, but extremely worthwhile as you see your product and business plan move forward each week.
My original idea stemmed back in 2015 from my own personal experience. Although I have no business or product development experience, I am passionate about my product and feel it could make a real difference to the welfare of horses.
I came across HIE when I started entering some business competitions and my relationship with the organisation has developed from there. Pathfinder seems like a fantastic opportunity for me to push my idea forward and get my product to the market with the support of expert coaches.
I didn’t know what to expect from the initial sessions, but I was really impressed with the instant interaction between the participants and the coaches.
It is really practical and we have gone straight into thinking about all aspects of our own business - who we are, our business objectives and our proposed business models.
Right away I am being made to consider important decisions I am going to have to make as I move forward – for example decisions relating to producers/production, could/should I run a workshop here at my business base, or licence the manufacture out?
The expert input from the coaches at Pathfinder has been extremely helpful. They have already shown me how to take an idea forward and helped me find the right direction for my business.
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