Nightingale HQ accepted into the Accelerated Growth Programme

The Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) is part of the Welsh Government’s support for developing high-growth businesses in Wales. We applied and after being put through a diagnostic of our business, we’ve been accepted into the program. 🎉

What businesses are eligible?

Notionally, you can apply as an existing SME with fewer than 250 employees but most businesses joining the AGP are startups. To be eligible as a startup you should be aiming to achieve the following over the next 3 years:

  • Attain a turnover of at least £2 million*
  • Create at least 10 new jobs
  • Have a high proportion of exports globally

What’s the application process like?

We applied via the website’s contact form initially. Someone from the AGP gave me a call to run through the criteria and discuss the benefits. Based on our pre-start/pre-trading status, that call identified that the additional Accelerator Wales they host would be of benefit to us too. Enter the awesome Mandy Weston, of Town Square Spaces.

After a call with Mandy, we met up at ICE to discuss the accelerator. After determining our eligibility, I had some forms to fill in about the business including our plans for growth. We were provisionally accepted onto the accelerator as there was an iteration happening very soon after Mandy and I spoke. The next step after the initial Expression of Interest form that I completed was a Diagnostic.

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

The Diagnostic was a review of us as founders, our business plan, and our capability to deliver on it. We did a two-hour interview with the very nifty Darran Hughes. Darran helped frame our business proposition, our strengths, and the priorities to address in a fantastic way that really helped us understand our business in a deeper way. This was then sent off to the head honchos of the AGP to approve. This took about two weeks to get approved.

What’s the point?

Sounds like we did a reasonable amount of work to get on this thing so I’m sure you’re wondering what the benefits are by now!

So to begin with there is the three-month accelerator program with weekly masterclasses on key topics and our cohort on the accelerator acts as our non-executive directors, spurring us to build a better business. Additionally, Peter Trott acts as Chair of the Board, lending his experience to the Board as well as providing dedicated coaching time to help us adjust to the running of a high growth business.

Our lovely accelerator cohort. Photo by Bharathi Kannan on Unsplash

The longer-term benefit is the support the Welsh Government can give us to help us succeed. This includes:

  • Engagement with consultants and partners to help address specific needs that are blockers to high growth of our business
  • An active mentoring and advisory network of local successful entrepreneurs and investors
  • Access to discounted services to lower costs of things like legal services
  • Everything else the Welsh Government offers in terms of business support.

For us, the accelerator and the access to people who can help us tackle business constraints is phenomenal value at this stage and we’ll be on the programme for two to three years so as we grow and our challenges change, we’ll continue being able to engage with people who can help.

What’s next for us?

We’ve started on the accelerator and you will be able to read our reflections about each masterclass and you can already read about our time on the accelerator from induction to product design. We hope to tell our perspective of the programme over time and regularly reflect on its value so that other folks in Wales’ thinking about running a high-growth startup can see what’s on offer and what benefit it might have for them.

* Interestingly, the website says the target is £2m over 3 years: “achieve a minimum growth of £2 million turnover over 3 years”