A forward-thinking entrepreneur from London has launched a graduate training business with the support of enterprise mentoring from Lloyds Banking Group.
New Zealand-born Samuel Gordon is the founder of First Year In, a business which enables graduates and other new staff to adapt quickly to working life through specialist workshops and training.
Sam spotted a gap in the market for the programme after joining a graduate scheme with a large supermarket chain, where he felt he and his colleagues could have benefitted from extra training to help them adapt faster to a business environment. With previous experience of mentoring graduates though Oxford University’s graduate society Oxford10, Sam decided to develop his idea into a business which could be used by graduate employers across the country.
In July 2012, Sam started conducting workshops in universities in London, refining the service until it was ready to launch to employers in June 2013. Since then the company has continued to gain momentum, working with top firms in the capital and partnering with three experienced coaches to deliver workshop sessions.
After hearing about the national mentoring scheme for a fellow entrepreneur, Sam spotted an opportunity to develop his business further and approached business-led charity Business in the Community, which partnered him with Jehangir Byramji, Senior Strategy Manager, Retail Banking at Lloyds Banking Group.
Sam said: “Developing an idea into a viable business concept is a challenging process, but I have always been passionate about graduate training and truly believe that people value the extra support when entering the workplace. My experience working on a graduate scheme, as well as mentoring graduates myself, gave me a strong idea for the business but I felt that I would benefit from professional business guidance, which is why I signed up for a mentor.”
The national mentoring scheme was launched by five major high street banks in conjunction with the Business Finance Taskforce and the British Bankers’ Association, with the aim of helping the economy to return to sustainable growth by training industry professionals to share their own skills and experiences with new business leaders and entrepreneurs.
In the autumn of 2012, Jehangir began to mentor Sam through monthly and bimonthly meetings, helping him to refine his business model and build an understanding of the key areas he needed to focus on in order to launch the business successfully the following year. Since then Jehangir has continued to mentor Sam offering him further guidance and helping him to develop a focused marketing strategy.
Sam added: “The mentoring support from Lloyds Banking Group was invaluable and a vital component in bringing the idea to market. He regularly challenged my ideas, forcing me to think objectively about the decisions I was making and not get too caught up in the small details.”
Jehangir added: “After learning about the bank’s involvement in the national mentoring scheme I was keen to get involved and use my knowledge and experience to help small businesses succeed.
“Working with young entrepreneurs like Sam, who are passionate about their business concept, is a truly rewarding experience, and beneficial for all parties involved. By acting as a sounding board for Sam’s ideas and hearing about the difficulties he experienced, we were able to develop his business plan, and I personally gained a wider understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs face when starting a new business”