With longstanding businesses facing severe challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, a West Midlands based organisation is offering free training for young people and adults to help them launch their own innovative product or service.

Startup 54, run by social value agency Spectra in partnership with Foundervine, is a free 54-hour programme which is open to all West Midlands students, care leavers and anyone aged 18 or over who is unemployed, enabling them to start their own business from scratch.

Spectra believes that challenging economic times can provide fledgling businesses with great opportunities and that the ‘new normal’ will see gaps in the market come to the surface. With the help of industry experts, the aim of Startup 54 is to help young people and adults identify those gaps and act to fill them, giving them a strong head start.

Startup 54 takes place over a full weekend, totalling 54 hours staring on the evening of Friday 23 October and running until the evening of Sunday 25 October. It will see ambitious would-be entrepreneurs working with like-minded individuals to turn their business ideas into reality, with all who take part leaving the programme with a viable product or service.

Industry leaders and experts will be on hand to offer advice and hear pitches from all participants, giving them invaluable feedback to help them develop a business model that fits their target audience.

No previous business experience is needed and, although spaces are limited, the programme is free for all who are eligible.

Matthew Gordon, Chief Executive of Spectra, said: “We're working in partnership with Foundervine to provide this genuine opportunity in the current difficult climate to help people in West Midlands develop the confidence and learn the skills they need to launch their own business. We know that this is a difficult time for the economy but we also know that there are opportunities for new businesses, products and services to help steer up through these challenging period and we are keen to help young people and unemployed adults identify these opportunities.

“Whatever your background or experience, everyone has abilities that this programme can discover and release. If you are passionate about starting a business that can solve a real problem, are keen to get hands-on and learn about business design, market research, and develop a minimum viable product, then this is the programme for you.”

Cecil Adjalo, CEO of Foundervine, added: "Foundervine is proud to partner with Spectra in delivering Startup 54, a programme designed to increase digital, entrepreneurial and soft skills. The climate we are in is unprecedented - digital skills have never been more important, the pandemic has shut down a lot of businesses, made countless people unemployed, and demanded more innovative ways of solving challenges we face in society.

“Foundervine and Spectra share the same vision that something needs to be done and we need to give greater support to our young people. By running this programme we are bringing people with low access to opportunities an innovative challenge, a chance to develop themselves, change their mindsets and build their confidence to succeed in a new and very changed world."

StartUp 54 begins on Friday 23 October. 

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