By Marcus Leach
How did Dell mark Global Entrepreneur Week?
We had a number of activities happening across each of our global sites designed to showcase our support of entrepreneurs everywhere, but in the UK specifically, we were excited to launch a major new initiative: The Dell UK Centre for Entrepreneurs.
The initiative, which brings together five key programmes, will provide access to funding, mentoring and Dell’s technical expertise and world class infrastructure to help developing businesses grow and scale quickly.
It was developed initially in the U.S. under the guidance of our Entrepreneur in Resident, Ingrid Vanderveldt, and has been received so well that we wanted to mirror some of that success here in the UK.
That sounds interesting; can you tell me more about each programme?
Acting as a steering committee for the Centre for Entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneur Advisory Council will be comprised of business founders and Dell sector experts who will meet quarterly to create a more meaningful bridge between Dell and the entrepreneurial community in the UK.
In addition to providing a forum to take action on current challenges facing new businesses, the council will also run regular events designed to promote networking and education opportunities. The council will be chaired by Tim Griffin, vice president and managing director for Dell UK, and Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence.
We’re also really excited to be launching our Start-Up in Residence Competition which will be open for entries on the 2nd of December. The competition gives two early stage start-up businesses the opportunity to become our resident start-ups. The winning organisations will receive free office space for a year at Dell’s Bracknell campus starting in April, and a range of business ready solutions including notebooks, servers and storage.
They will also be provided with mentorship, advice and access to Dell’s professional networks and events, as well as having full access to Dell’s Customer Briefing centre and other on-site facilities. The competition is launching on December 2nd and applicants will have until the 14th of February to submit a brief business plan and video explaining why technology is so integral to their business growth and success. The two winning start-ups will also become members of the Centre for Entrepreneurs Advisory Council.
The third programme is our Dell Innovators Credit Fund, which is an up-to £10 million pound hyper-growth fund to provide entrepreneurs with access to financing that will help spread the cost of technology which in turn encourages innovation, improves speed-to-market and fuels job creation. The aim is to get end-to-end, scalable technology solutions in the hands of growing businesses during the crucial early time in market.
To apply for funding, businesses will need to fill out an assessment demonstrating their current funding mix and growth plans. The Fund is being launched as part of Dell Financial Services (DFS) which offers a variety of financing and leasing options on technology and services for businesses.
We’ve also designed a dedicated Entrepreneur Microsite & Community to support the Dell UK Centre for Entrepreneurs initiative, to create an online entrepreneurial community where new business owners can hear stories from other entrepreneurs on how to get access to resources and expertise, technology best practices, and insights on how to scale for growth. Visitors to the Centre for Entrepreneurs microsite will have the opportunity to join the official Centre of Entrepreneurs community.
Community members will receive access to Dell’s VIP benefits that includes exclusive product discounts, personal support and opportunities to network with other fast-growing businesses. Additionally, anyone joining the Centre for Entrepreneurs community will have the opportunity to connect with Dell executives at a quarterly event which will be fully geared towards the needs of the entrepreneur community.
Our final programme is the Dell Founders Club, an exclusive group for UK based entrepreneurs who view technology as a critical backbone to their business, and who have immediate IT needs in order to scale quickly. Organisations are encouraged to review the criteria and apply for the Founders Club via the Dell Centre for Entrepreneurs microsite.
In addition to the benefits received by the Dell Centre for Entrepreneurs community, members of this elite group will have opportunities to network and attend events that bring together Founders Club members from all over the globe. This group will receive concierge level service from Dell team members and receive unparalleled access to the team inside Dell to help their emerging business get to market quicker.
Why is Dell taking such an interest in entrepreneurs?
Since Michael Dell founded the company over 30 years ago, we have always had an entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of our business; so supporting this sector is important to us. However, while we believe technology is an essential foundation for fuelling business growth, we also realise that alone it isn’t enough to spark innovation.
What entrepreneurs need is access to a mix of technology, financing, networking and knowledge options, and the Dell UK Centre for Entrepreneurs is designed to provide this.
Technology is obviously one area where Dell can really support growing businesses; what are your recommendations for businesses planning their investments?
Our saying is ‘front end innovation via back office efficiency’ meaning that if growing businesses have the right technology at their core, then they’ll be in a much better position to achieve their ambitions.
An example of some of our products and services that support this premise include Data Management, Systems Management, Security and Cloud.
Security specifically is a top concern for small businesses and our acquisitions of KACE and Secureworks are helping us to address this concern.
The Cloud is another key focus of ours as it has the potential to allow entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field with larger companies. For example they now have access to business analytics, social media and demand generation tools once only available to large firms due to cost and complexity.
Follow the conversation online: @DellCFEUK #DellCFE.
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