Bootcamp to Business Blog 2016

Irfon Watkins Presenting
Sunday Awards


Imagine a weekend bursting with inspirational entrepreneursmotivating support, overflowing knowledge and creative, expert advice. Imagine having the opportunity to learn about the fundamental backbone of business from people who’ve been there and done it, experienced individuals with a passion for inspiring the next generation!


Our Bootcamp took place last weekend at Margam Discovery Centre. Inspiration was prevalent in every corner of the building, in every speech, and from every individual that attended the weekend and their amazing, creative and innovative BIG IDEAS.

The Challenge began on Friday with an exciting talk by one of our treasured Role Models, Lee Sharma from SimplyDo.

Following Lee was the amazing Ashley Cooper, talking about the importance of asking ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ when starting a business, encouraging our young entrepreneurs to visualise their future.



Our final session on Friday was Chris Jones, CIOTEK Ltd, a workshop exploring personality and playing to your strengths in business.

In the evening, the very talented Luke Swain, played melodic background music to an overly excited (and slightly tired) group of budding entrepreneurs, who reflected on a the talks of the day and began the all-important task of NETWORKING.


Group talking

Saturday began with the often overlooked aspects of starting a business, Protecting your Idea / IP with Emma Richards, IPO, and Accessing Start-Up Finance with Gareth Jones from Welsh ICE.

Irfon Watkins, founder of Coull, offered an “incredible perspective”on life as an entrepreneur; the highs and lows, the challenges and barriers you will face, quoting “there are no barriers, only the ones you create yourself”.  


He shed light on mental health and the importance for asking for help...

“Share your weakness, admit your failures”.

Irfon Watkins, Coull



After lunch, we heard from Annette Gee, one of our award winning Role Models, director of Taskforce Paintball, who stayed the whole weekend, offering business support and professional guidance.

She conducted a Business Basics workshop for pre-start attendees, while post-start attendees were educated about Finance to Grow by NatWest, a notable sponsor of this year's Challenge.

By mid-afternoon it was time for a much needed unwind, stretch and energising activity.

Person reading business handout

We had two available options; the first was dance with Sarah Gittins from The Dance Den, who led a stress-relief stretching workshop, inspiring movement and business combined.

The second option was Laser Tag with Annette Gee, a chance for our entrepreneurs to let their hair down and have some fun, highlighting the importance of making time for personal enjoyment while running a business.

Dance Class

Our next two sessions were about describing and selling your product or service to others; face to face, and online.


George Savva, another Role Model who has been heavily involved with Big Ideas Wales and Bootcamp for many years, and was present the whole weekend, discussed the importance of being able to describe your product in simple terms...

“If a 12 year old cannot understand it, then it is too complicated”.



The final talk of the evening, and continuing with the theme of Marketing, a vital and much sought after skill by many of our Bootcampers, was Austin Walters, a digital marketing strategy consultant and speaker.

He focused on the importance of understanding social media and other tools in order to boost your business.


It was then time to put everything into practice with two hours to work on business plans ready for Sunday’s pitching. Throughout the weekend, many of our previous and successful Bootcamp survivors, now Young Ambassadors, circulated among our attendees, offering advice, support and confidence boosting.

The evening was rounded off by Tobias Robertson, a soulful contestant on this years’ The Voice!


Sunday. The BIG day!

It began with a comical and revitalising talk by Stifyn Parri, Mr Producer on How to Pitch.

Everyone was then split into groups and rotated around the sessions throughout the day. One of those sessions was Effective Networking with Tracey and Paul Smolinksi from IntroBiz and another run by Caroline Thompson from Entrepreneurial Spark.

Big Ideas Wales Presentation


We also had Pitching Practice, followed by their 2 minute pitch to the panel of judges, and then on to Next Steps, a 1-2-1 session with our Big Ideas Wales Business Advisors.

The weekend ended with the Awards Ceremony, for ‘Most Committed Challenger’, won by Luke Riddiford, Ridd’s Ramps and runner up, Wale Shekete.

The ‘Best Pitch’ award went to Christian Pace and Scott Ewing of Gadge-It Ltd.

Dive through frame

The winners of the Accelerated Support Award were Maciek Kacprzyk & Karina Sudenyte of Wonky Drinks, Taylor Davies of Impressions of Reality aka “Taylor’s tricks”, Connor Western of Hummingbird, Dafydd Jones of Doze and Scott Ewing & Kristian Pace of Gadge-It Ltd!

Congratulations to everyone that took part, you are all winners and have a very bright and exciting future ahead of you! And remember, in the words of George Savva...

“Do like a chicken, sit on your eggs until they hatch. Have belief in your idea.”

Why Apply For The Challenge?

And if all this isn’t enough to convince you to apply, take it from our Bootcampers:

Well Bootcamp was amazing, everyone was so lovely and I learnt so much. One of the best things I have ever done”

Rhys Payne, Points4Spending

“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in setting up the weekend… hopefully one day I'll see you all again at the Bootcamp, but we will be the ones talking!”

Taylor Davies, Taylor's Tricks

“I would love to thank you all for letting me attend over the weekend. I had a wonderful time both growing as an entrepreneur, and meeting some great like-minded people with some amazing ideas”

Jamie Hunts, Dakona Video Production

“It was a wonderful and informative event that has definitely given me more of a kick with setting up my own business”

Connor Western, Hummingbird Photography

“So cool meeting so many different people from different backgrounds. Also nice to know we have the same crazy thoughts about the world of business!”

Kade McConville, rKade

“As someone who has never been good with socialising or communicating this has been a great experience to get me out of my shell so thank you to everyone at Big Ideas Wales and Good Luck to everyone!”

Lee Thomas

Want to learn more about The Challenge and how to apply for our next Bootcamp in Betws y Coed in March 2017?