Today we are speaking to Shuet from Startup Direct, a delivery partner of the Government’s Start Up Loans Scheme, providing mentoring and start-up funding for entrepreneurs.
To start with, what is exciting you right now?
In relation to GROW, I’m 6 months in and the network is really bedding in nicely. I have made connections with local organisations eg Enterprise Cube, West Berkshire Council and Reading University, all of which has been facilitated directly and indirectly by working from GROW; being able to say ‘I’m at…’, people often respond, ‘Oh, I know GROW!’, so it helps having an established base here.
How and why did you start working for Startup Direct?
I like to give back in actions so started as a volunteer mentor for Startup Direct; when a Business Advisor position became available I decided to apply. My previous work had been for global engineering corporates and I wanted to experience business in a different environment and from a different perspective. I also volunteer at The Food Chain which provides nutritional support for people with HIV and AIDS. Mentoring works both ways; I’ve learnt so much and developed many other skills.
Startup Direct provides government backed loans to start-up businesses which includes those who might not qualify to get loans from banks.
It’s personally satisfying to help people who have an idea, are trying to change their lives but find the doors slammed on them. Sometimes it just takes a small amount of money and the right support to make a huge impact in their success; some of the loans are small but life changing.
We work very closely with clients and so understand their life goals, aspirations and motivations. It’s a stressful time and we support them all through the application process.
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Cooking. I’d spend it faffing about the kitchen all day, listening to music and podcasts on headphones (for the immersive experience!). I’m currently obsessing about a Chinese BBQ pork recipe. I’m happy with the blend proportions and think I have the technique cracked. It’s twice cooked; traditionally it’s roasted but there’s another cooking process.
Sounds yum. What is it? Is it a secret, can you tell us?!
No and No :-).
What is the worst/stupidest/most embarrassing thing you have done :-)?
The most stupid thing I’ve done was skidding off the road on a bend on black ice and crashing into an irrigation river on the Cambridge fens. If it had been filmed it would have looked ridiculous! There are a lot of irrigation channels and as a result many of the roads have sharp bends. The irrigation channels don’t have banks, just straight sides, and the car dropped clean, straight in!
How did you get out?!
I acted on instinct, opened the window (quickly, before the electrics failed!) and climbed out. By the time I was out the car was completely submerged!
Is there anything that no one here knows about you? What is it?
I was a Games Maker at the 2012 Olympics. I was mad about the bid and on it to volunteer straight away!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to join the police force but can’t remember why. Think it was my only childhood ambition and probably from watching too much TV.
Favourite thing about GROW?
It’s a professional space but at the same time a place where people could drop in for a chat or casual meeting. I work in quite an introverted way; headphones and completely focussed, but it’s still good to be around other people. My colleagues are based in Birmingham, Liverpool and London so there aren’t opportunities to have those casual chats.
It’s also a 10 minute ReadyBike ride from home (ed - there’s a ReadyBike station by GROW), which is very convenient for me. A lot of my clients are from Bracknell, Maidenhead and Slough and drive here for meetings, so the location next to M4 Jct and free parking are really helpful and a reason why I wouldn’t work from central Reading.
Thanks Shuet! It's great to know there's support and funding for startups which would struggle to access finance to realise their aspirations. We're also very relieved you survived the car-in-river situation to join our community at GROW! Look forward to trying some of that tasty Chinese BBQ Pork the GROW Summer Social ;-)!