Boot camps on the march to help Londoners start up their own businesses

Boris Johnson is setting up ‘boot camps’ for wannabe entrepreneurs who have business ideas and just don’t know how to get things marching forward.

He launched the project today at the British Library’s business centre where he met some of the leaders of industry who will be running the 27 ‘camps’ over the next 12 months, covering different fields such as fashion, technology or even running a pub.

Two entrepreneurs from Shoreditch, Ron Festejo and Jonathan Alpine, turned up at the launch to show the Mayor the enterprising ‘Stoopid Sandwich’ iPhone app they developed at their Noodl Froot business in Old Street.

“We both worked for a big company developing iPhone games—but it was time to start on our own,” Ron said afterwards.

“Bootcamp would have been useful—we made mistakes, focusing too much on the ‘big vision’ and not the day-to-day stuff. You have to start small and build up.”


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Both are keen to pass on their hard-won knowledge in one of Boris’s bootcamps which will show newcomers how to get over barriers like where to raise capital, how to make contacts, getting insider knowledge and tips to avoid pitfalls of starting up.

The Mayor told the launch: “These bootcamps will help budding entrepreneurs get on the inside track to start a successful company.”

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Boris wished there had been bootcamps when he left university in 1980—but then he might not have become Mayor of London.

“There was a craze for rustic tile kitchen splashbacks back then,” he explained.

“So I rented an old RAF hanger and set up with my mother designing the tiles and was all set to storm the market.

“Then I realised we hadn’t a clue what to do next—it ended 24 hours later, just one night ‘on the tiles’.”

He might not have gone into politics, he revealed, had he had become “Britain’s rustic tile backsplash king.”

Instead, he was now meeting seasoned business leaders at the launch who are to run the bootcamps, including the director of East London’s Arcola Theatre Ben Todd, food industry expert Jane Milton, biotech managing director Nigel Stokes and fashion designer Yasmin Kianfar.

The scheme, paid for with a �275,000 cheque from the Royal Bank of Scotland and �135,000 from the EU, has a website for wannabe entrepreneurs: www.thebusinessbootcamp.co.uk.

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