Leon and Gavin use Business Link to help start their own social enterprise – Launchpad Platform

From: Business Link
Published: Mon Mar 01 2010

A chance meeting at a Business Link seminar and a common goal of self employment led Leon Clarke from Reading and Gavin Aldrich from West London to form their marketing and design agency, Launchpad Platform in November 2009. Whilst there are many marketing based businesses in Berkshire, this new social enterprise has been formed with a social purpose; to provide the socially excluded with a means to learn new skills that can help them fulfil their potential.

Whilst both Leon and Gavin knew they wanted to work for themselves, it was only when they came together that the pair realised their complimentary skills could be the foundation for a successful business venture. Leon trained as a graphic designer and Gavin had been a director with a large communications business – an ideal combination for a marketing and design based agency.

Gavin explained, "I was made redundant at the beginning of 2009 and found it difficult to get a senior management role. I realised that self employment would, be the best way to use my skills. Leon went to Business Link as he really wanted to make a difference within his local community. Whilst we could have started a ‘normal’ business we wanted to benefit our local community and decided that to do this we would run Launchpad Platform as a social enterprise."

Leon added, "After meeting at one of the start-up workshops we contacted Lesley Adams, from Business Link who became our Adviser. We soon realised there was a huge amount of preparatory work for just two people. Lesley encouraged us to focus on priorities. When we discussed our business plan she suggested that rather than attacking three areas of interest, we should focus on promoting our marketing and design services. This has proved to have been the right approach.

"We have already completed a number of marketing and design projects which have led to larger marketing commissions. One of our current projects is for a drug advisory charity re-brand, and we’ve had a number of referrals from satisfied clients. We are being invited to speak at conferences about social media and find a lot of businesses want to engage in that ‘conversation’. We will also be starting our educational workshops for the socially excluded and pioneering a social enterprise hub; looking to the future we may even be looking to recruit."

Lesley Adams, from Business Link said, "Enterprise, and enterprising individuals, boost the local Berkshire economy – my role is to help people to spot opportunities, utilise their talents and develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in business. Gavin and Leon have come from very different backgrounds but their common thread is a desire to work for themselves and the benefit of others. Gavin and Leon’s drive and inspiration has been a great support and a key driver to the longer term success of the business. The pair are just one of the many aspiring entrepreneurs who we help to turn their dreams into reality with coaching and intensive support to overcome setbacks such as unemployment."

For more information about Business Link’s support for individuals who are thinking about starting a business or in the early stages of running a business and face barriers to enterprise because of personal circumstances visit www.bringyourideastolife.co.uk or phone 0845 600 9 006.

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Media contact:

Katie Mason

Telephone: 02380 613255

Mobile:07882 102555

Email: katie@ambmarketing.co.uk

Notes to Editors

About Business Link

Business Link’s information and advice services are available through the website www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast or by phoning 0845 600 9 006.

Business Link is the government funded national business information, advice and support service, delivered in the South East by the six Business Link Providers. In the South East the service is funded by SEEDA.

Business Link helps businesses and entrepreneurs to establish new enterprises and maintain and grow established companies by helping them to locate and benefit from the broadest range of public, private and voluntary business support services.

Business Link offers specific help to individuals who are unemployed, currently only working a few hours week or in a situation that makes it harder for them to get involved in enterprise or to access Business Link support. These two services help people to start a business and offers free, advice, coaching and intensive support from having and idea to when the individual starts trading. Once the business has been established the business owner is encouraged to take advantage of the extensive information, advice and support provided by Business Link’s core service.

SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, is the Government-funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development of the South East of England – the driving force of the UK’s economy. Through supporting businesses, encouraging innovation, developing skills and engaging with public and private partners, we aim to create a successful, sustainable future for the region.

Company: Business Link
Contact Name: Katie Mason
Contact Email: katie@ambmarketing.co.uk
Contact Phone: 02380 613255

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