Ex-Dragon Doug Richard to whip Welsh entrepreneurs into shape

Doug Richard is holding three, one-day bootcamps in Wales to teach local entrepreneurs how to grow their business online. "The idea sprang out of a programme I did in Sheffield called MADE in 48 hours," he explains. "It showed business how to drop costs, create value and enhance their business proposition through internet. We had 300 companies on that bootcamp. The Welsh Assembly people came along, loved the format, and now we're rolling out the idea to 450 Welsh entrepreneurs."

And do the Welsh small business community need help? Is there a lack of mad web skills in the Valleys? Richard is diplomatic in his reply: "It's hard to assess before I meet the companies," he says. "But I do have experience with over 12,000 small businesses across the UK. The great bulk of them are strapped for time and resources and, with the pace of web innovation moving so quickly, lots of things end up falling by the wayside."

Richard is not interested in quick fixes. He's sceptical of social media, keen to focus instead on the P&L: "I'm talking back end, front end, sharpening the game in local markets and global ones, marketing to internal management. It's all-encompassing."

Yeah yeah. That's what we've been doing for three years! Richard laughs: "At Smarta, you already know this stuff. You even have your own cloud application now: Business Builder. I'm trying to teach them about everything that you already know."

But can you really teach all of this in one day? Can a one-size-fits-all approach work for all these firms? "There is only one web," replies Richard. "The answer is 'absolutely!'. Every business is not unique: it's either a service or a product, local or global, there are huge amounts of commonality. I've got three and a half years' experience teaching everyone about everything. Trust me."

One of the key themes that the Welsh bootcamp will concentrate on is efficient marketing. Richard believes that revenue is driven not by increasing outbound marketing but by letting people find you more easily. "We're very big on teaching people how to leverage the web to increase their visibility for little or no money."

He continues: "Almost all businesses are heroically inefficient. Some are marginally less unproductive than others but no one is perfect. Using the web can make you exponentially more productive across the whole P&L. If you are a very small product business, I will show you how to use the internet to be global for the same price. I can teach you how to add distribution to any country in the world without you leaving your seat."

That's fighting talk, Doug. "I do this every day," he replied. "This isn't rocket science."

Apply for the Welsh School for Startups bootcamp here

Watch our video interview with Doug Richard:

Doug Richard, School for Startups (Part one)

Doug Richard, School for Startups (Part 2)

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