Things That Blew My Mind at Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast

Things That Blew My Mind at Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast

Things That Blew My Mind at Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast

Entrepreneurial Spark is an accelerator programme for startups.


One of the speakers introduced the programme and mentioned that accelerators are about bringing products and service to market quicker. Entrepreneurs move quickly, he said. My instinct leaped for joy at that thought, as I often make snap decisions (even if it’s backed up by months of research). I have a gut instinct about things, and I’m happy to trust it. It makes making decisions a snap, as Holder would say.

So, the fastest thing I did at Espark was to volunteer to do a pitch – with only preparation in my head on the way in – on the second day. OK, I admit, I’ve been practicing it at every opportunity, in lifts, in the car on the way to meetings, at the mirror. I did OK. Some of us really struggled, some zipped through it. The point was, suck it up and get on with it. I LOVED this cut-the-crap, stop thinking about it, attitude!


I’d heard of lean methodologies and lean startups and lean this-that-and-the-other, but not really understood what it was about.

  • It turns out that lean is pretty similar to – or includes – agile, something we love here at WabiSabi.
  • And, lean also includes MVP, a big-business term I’d have run a mile from. The guys at Entrepreneurial Spark mentioned it in passing, without recourse to all the usual jargon.

It turns out they want to help business develop products and services quickly, thinking carefully about what they’re offering, who the customer is, what they want (precisely), really listen, and then get it out there, priced to perfection.

Ra-ra cheering aside, I knew this was going to be the place for both Allen and I to gain new skills, knowledge and an appreciation of methodologies and concepts we’d probably been running away from. Other immensely valuable explanations included value proposition, and boy did they ram that one home! I get it, honest!


Running a business, or starting a new one (or both, as we’re doing) is exhausting. You can lose your mojo very quickly after just one long, hard day. Or, in my case, after one discouraging comment from an otherwise supportive person.

What you get from being in the company of others starting – or growing their business – is energy. It’s enlivening simply turning up and seeing a room full of already-buzzing people. It’s life-affirming when you talk to someone and they’re stuggling with the same things as you. Even better if they offer suggestions. Bouncing ideas around with someone who has no clue about your business is awesome! Variety is awesome! Choice is awesome! WabiSabi is going to be awesome mix of people!


The first thing I noticed about the decor was that their chairs were identical to the ones I’d been looking at online the previous evening – for the WabiSabi kitchen! Clearly, someone has excellent taste.


I made that word up. We’re going to have the three-day bootcamp followed up by a series of fortnightly seminars where we’ll learn more, have an opportunity to pitch again and again (especially if we’re late, it’s a built in punishment/learning experience!) and either love or endure piranha pits (a sort of investor-ready endurance test with quickfire questions that I’m conversely looking forward to).


Growing up as a quiet, shy person, I’ve had to deliberately learn socialising and networking skills. Having been there, I now seek out the quiet, awkward (or should I say original, creative and quirky) in a room full of people and make a point of getting to know them. I discovered artists, manufacturers, pathmakers, and brains others miss because they condemn anyone who’s not regular.

Entrepreneurial Spark was a great place to meet people. I met a coffees supplier, a personal trainer, a video-guy (more of which later). We also have a beautiful, spacious coworking space to use whenever we want, for six months, so those new contacts will be developed.

Reading back through this post, it strikes me that those headings might just capture what we’re trying to do by creating a workplace from scratch and curating a community of entrepreneurs – one that is so full of amazing people that we want to work in it ourselves!

Where can I find out more?

Entrepreneurial Spark is taking applications for its August intake.

WabiSabi is taking your ideas on what WabiSabi should be. If you want a say in the design of both your new business community and space, click here.

Dawn Baird
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