By Claire West

We’ve all seen entrepreneurs fail to succeed when placed in front of the Dragon’s Den but who can help them learn how to win over prospective investors effectively. To help kick-start greater success for European start-ups, Springboard is designed to provide entrepreneurs with valuable advice, experience and resources during the critical early stages. The accelerator program, which takes place in Cambridge, boasts a team of expert mentors, presenting invaluable guidance to SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

The Springboard program kicks off on the 3rd of May, with the deadline for entries on the 20th of February.

Backed by an angel investor syndicate, ideaSpace and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), Springboard is a 13-week accelerator and mentoring programme for early-stage businesses in Europe designed to boost business success. It combines intensive support, coaching and mentoring opportunities from experienced entrepreneurs for up to three founders per business team, as well as up to £15,000 of investment capital, in return for 6% equity. Applicants have until 20 February to compete for one of ten places on the programme starting in Cambridge in May 2011. To apply for a place, visit www.springboard.com

Interested businesses are invited to a ‘Meet the Mentors’ session to gain insight and learn valuable business lessons in a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions, followed by an evening network event. The sessions, taking place on Thursday 3rd February at TechHub London, will bring together experienced entrepreneurs and investors to offer support and advice to early-stage businesses on how to develop their business.

Jon Bradford, MD at Springboard, says: “European start-ups need a helping hand to become viable for investment. Historically, over 50% of the starts up who enter these programmes have succeeded in raising capital in the next round of funding. Europe is lagging behind America when it comes to supporting early-stage businesses and we need to rally round to create new opportunities for fledgling businesses. From what we’ve learned, we’ve made the heart of Springboard to be about the exchange of experience, advice, know-how and counselling. This is provided by over 50 great mentors including experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”

Springboard has also recently received the backing of Cambridge Angels and the programme is being run in association with them. Cambridge Angel’s David Clevely will join leading Venture Capitalists, Angel investors and entrepreneurs, including Alex van Someren from Amadeus Capital Partners; Colin Willis, Managing Director at Hotspur Capital Partners and Neil McClements, Managing Partner at Fintech Ventures Fund as mentors on the programme.

Robert Sansom, a mentor on the programme says: ‘I’m delighted to be on board with Springboard and help support early-stage businesses in becoming ‘deal-ready’. These sessions are an excellent chance for all these entrepreneurs to garner crucial business insights from experienced mentors and I’d encourage all who are interested to apply.”

To apply for a place on Springboard visit www.springboard.com

Join us on