Disclaimer: In addition to being a Welsh ICE member, they’re also a client of mine – albeit they came on-board after I joined them. So I was a member – who benefitted from the funding – first and foremost.
Earlier this week, Welsh ICE (my co-working space) announced ICE 50, which you can apply to here. In short, they’re giving away 50(!) fully funded spaces in order for entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, etc. to be able to grow their businesses in their business centre in Caerphilly (just outside Cardiff), South Wales. Membership is usually £250 (+ VAT) per month, and these bursaries are for the first year of membership, so you’d effectively be getting c. £3,000’s worth of business support, desk space, etc. for free.
It’s a fantastic opportunity. I should know – I was fortunate enough to be on a similar funding scheme when I started my SEO consulting business 2+ years ago. I thought that talking about it was worthy of a blog post, as there’s a few things people don’t realise about places like ICE, plus I wanted to give my perspective on it in the process.
Why this funding is a big deal
One of the biggest problems with starting a business is all of the upfront costs. When I started mine, I invested in a website, branding, contracts, software and much more, while still building up a clientbase and therefore not exactly earning a large amount of income in those early days in order to counteract it. Getting office space is important – whether it’s for professional perception, or striking a better work-life balance by getting out of the house, or both – but it is yet another expense, which is why you find so many business owners inevitably working from home, in order to keep costs down.
The beauty of the ICE 50 funding is that by the 12-month mark, most businesses are in a much stronger position financially, and therefore able to keep up with the costs from that point forward. So it’s great that so many businesses can receive the benefits of operating from such a space but in a low-risk (perhaps even no-risk) way.
Why it’s more than just a desk
- It’s a networking opportunity – fellow co-workers might refer clients to you, or even become clients themselves,
- It’s also a collaboration opportunity – you’ll never know who you’ll meet and work with on projects (e.g. I hired an ICE-based comic book company to provide illustrations for a guest blog post, which you can read about here),
- ICE in particular offers mentorship, by partnering its members with mentors who can help them in areas where they’re struggling (e.g. I met with an experienced sales consultant who passed on some cracking advice),
- Funding is also available (location-depending) – as Caerphilly is considered a deprived and struggling area economically, various funding options are available that mightn’t be available otherwise.