Cassandra Harris: How mentoring can make you a better entrepreneur

Hi Cassandra, tell us about Venturespring?

I recently launched Venturespring with the support of seven other entrepreneurs, who are passionate about tech and fostering new talent. It’s a venture development studio, which connects fresh young talent with big business, working with brands to develop and launch new digital companies.

Venturespring works with global brands to develop products, systems and services, and then form teams made up of talented entrepreneurs to scale them as independent, profit-making entities, dispensing the advice, resources and guidance necessary to build up their businesses along the way. 

The corporates involved benefit from having access to innovative, bright, hungry talent, and the start-ups benefit from access to the right finance and support, as well as getting to work with career-changing brand names. 

We already have partnerships with a number of universities, schools, colleges and large youth charities such as The Prince’s Trust through whom we search for people to mentor through the Venturespring apprenticeship programme and I’d advise anyone who thinks it could be for them to get in touch.

What made you want to become a mentor? 

From a very young age I always wanted to set up my own business. So I navigated my way out of a corporate role to where I am today through a series of strategic moves which proved successful in the end. But it’s not always easy to work out how to do this without the right support. 

My vision is to help demystify the steps that young people need to take in order to set up their own ventures and to support global brands in connecting to the start-up movement in a way that benefits them too. That’s how Venturespring was created.  

We are constantly on the lookout for young talent from all backgrounds. No formal qualifications are needed, only the drive and ambition to set up their own start-ups. Mentoring within this apprenticeship programme is designed to give this young talent a springboard into starting their own ventures. 

This isn't a theoretical approach, it is very much hands on. They get to work on real startups and learn everything right through from conception, build, launch, scale and ultimately exit.

How have you improved as an entrepreneur since becoming a mentor?

Yes, absolutely. Being around different people constantly and learning from them is just as useful for you as it is for them. 

Young people are naturally talented when it comes to technology. They’re ‘digital natives’, born into it, and regularly come up with amazing ideas which you might not necessarily consider yourself.

Why did you choose to mentor entrepreneurs? 

Small businesses have generated 65% of the net new jobs in the UK since 1995, and are fuelling the economy to a certain degree. So it makes sense for corporates, start-ups and young talent to work together to try and create an economy that works better for all of us. There’s a real gap in the market for this kind of mentoring. 

Our approach gives big businesses the chance to access real talent that you simply can’t guarantee creating in-house, and gives hungry young graduates the chance to work with businesses that could genuinely transform their careers. And because all the digital companies we launch are going to be, above all, profit making, this will in turn lead to further job creation. It really is win-win for everyone.

What's the first bit of advice you give your mentees?

Vision is so important. Without it you will be lost. Decide what it is you want to do, what you want to achieve, and be passionate about it. 

It's so important to know what you want to do and to be passionate about it. Don't be afraid to dream big as anything in life is possible, you just need that vision, a plan, the right skills, network and support to make it a reality.

How important is it to be able to relate to an inspirational or success story as an entrepreneur? 

Very. I think inspirational stories always give people hope and courage to achieve the same. I have always been inspired by Richard Branson’s success, what an amazing entrepreneur he is.

I think his story and success gives a lot of hope, encouragement, and direction to lots of young people out there.

To find out more about Cassandra Harris, you can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn 

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