The Duke of York has launched an initiative to encourage young people to start their own business with the Nominet Trust.
The iDEA pilot scheme hopes to support 1,000 budding entrepreneurs by investing £150,000 into their ideas for business plans. The Digital Enterprise Award will enable young business men and women to build digital prototypes to test the viability of their business plan.
The 20 most promising ideas that are submitted to the iDEA scheme will receive a £5,000 grant. These participants will also have the support from a mentor as, in a recent survey completed by young people, having a mentor has been seen as a key to success, alongside taking part in a business placement. Just three finalists will be selected for the 2014 iDEA Award, which comes with £15,000 of funding.
A recent study from Unltd found that 55% of 16 to 25-year-olds would like to set up their own business, and yet only 14% are in the process of doing so. With these figures in mind, the aim for the iDEA scheme is to get 1,000,000 young people involved in the programme over the next 5 years.
With his new scheme, the 54-year-old Duke of York has sent the message to young people to try to get involved in business, but he has also highlighted his belief that “failure is good for children”.
Prince Andrew told The Sunday Times that he learnt to not be afraid of failing during his time at Gordonstoun, the Scottish boarding school that his father and brothers attended. He particularly recalls the time that the young Prince was tasked with negotiating a rowing boat out of a harbour without crashing it!
The Duke stated that: “So much of life is understanding about failure and the lessons to be learnt from failure […] Failure allows you to succeed in the future because we are an experience-based learning organism. All animals are. Give someone the experience and they will learn”.
Annika Small, Chief Executive of Nominet Trust, said: “Digital technology has fundamentally changed the nature of entrepreneurship, opening up new opportunities for young people to create businesses. However, much of the support currently available to young entrepreneurs is desperately out of sync with their needs”.
She continued by saying: “From working with young people, it is clear they are looking for small-scale support that allows agile and iterative development, building and testing prototypes before going to market”. Small also highlighted how many young people are reluctant to take out a loan to support their fledgling idea, and prefer to “bootstrap” their way through in the initial stages.
Lack of support and guidance of a mentor is a key issue for 83% of youths, and more than half who took part in a survey said they thought it would be difficult to find someone to mentor them, which would make beginning their own business even more difficult. It is statistics like these that have prompted Prince Andrew to initiate such a programme for young people, which is based on his father’s Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
The new initiative is supported by three famous entrepreneurs: Michael Acton-Smith, founder of Mind Candy (who created Moshi Monsters), Lily Cole, model and creator of ‘impossible.com’, and Nick D’Aloisio, teen founder of the news summary app, ‘Summly’.
The Summly founder praised the new scheme supported by the Duke of York, saying: “What young people need, above all, is the support and advice that can get them into the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur. That’s what doesn’t get widely taught […] It is about not just how to do things, but what you can do with them. It can inspire young people to fulfil their potential and create the businesses of the future”.
Model Lily Cole also said she recognises “how valuable support systems are for fostering creativity in this space”, since she has experienced the difficulties of starting a business. Other celebrities, such as singer and music producer Will.i.am, have also agreed to be involved with Prince Andrew’s initiative, and will soon be handing out badges of recognition for the three-stage programme, called Open Badges. This programme was set up through a partnership with Digital ME.
The Duke of York is also patron of The Peter Jones Foundation, an organisation set up to encourage youths to go into business and entrepreneurship. Alongside this, he is also patron of the London Metropolitan University’s business start-up programme, and the School for Creative Start-Ups, just to name but a few. The Duke’s website states that he “supports providers of entrepreneurially focused education”, and the iDEA pilot scheme makes such schemes one step further, by providing funding to make dreams into a reality.