In the heart of Old Street, tucked away in an unassuming side-street, are Google’s Campus offices – the home of London’s Campus for Mums and Dads, a free scheme offered to entrepreneurial parents looking to start their own businesses.
Campus for Mums and Dads first launched in 2013 and is now onto its sixth round. The scheme is a 10-week programme aimed at informing and helping parents who are looking to develop their innovative business ideas, with experts speaking each week on topics from business PR to optimising social media.
The unique element of the programme is that all parents can bring their children along to the talks, because the sessions are baby-friendly with soft play areas and multiple breaks to accommodate children’s needs. This progressive way of hosting workshops is truly inclusive, bringing together parents from all walks of life – from theatre directors to lawyers – all with the common interest of trying to start a business now they have children.
The Head of Campus Sarah Drinkwater says this approach has been proven to work well for Google Campus: “Parents make great founders due to how well they ruthlessly prioritise, and with the rise of co-working spaces with creches attached, we think this is a trend that will continue to grow.”
Many of the participants of the programme praise how it recruits specialist speakers to talk and share their skills. They also love the way the scheme connects like-minded parents and provides a natural support network to workshop ideas and improve on them.
The scheme has given parents the confidence and tools to launch their businesses. Mum-of-one Adelle attended in 2013 and has since launched BKD – an award-winning design-led kids’ baking company, offering creative baking events, classes and parties as well as baking kits and mixes. Her business idea was born after becoming a mum herself, as she recognised the importance of encouraging kids to learn essential life skills in the kitchen and fuel their imaginations with baking. Now BKD is launching in retailers like John Lewis and Lakeland, and Adelle has her own recipe book.
Adelle says Campus for Mums and Dads helped her finalise her business idea, and the group of parents attending proved to be an excellent market-research tool for constructive feedback.
“Just getting on to the program was a real boost,” she says. “Having to pull a pitch together really made me think about my business idea seriously and what facets it could have. It was also great that we had to present it to everyone at the beginning. Of course it was seriously nerve-wrecking, but it was great practice, as it’s something I have had to do many times now. My pitch was my first public-speaking experience since school, but now I do demonstrations to hundreds of people at food festivals.”
Adelle encourages anyone thinking about starting their own business to join Campus for Mums and Dads, and says the flexibility of the scheme with its inclusive childcare focus is hard to find elsewhere. If you’re interested in getting involved next year, follow Campus London on Twitter and sign up to the newsletter for updates on when applications for the programme open.