An initiative supporting high growth North East start-ups has officially launched thanks to a £10,000 donation.
Tech entrepreneur Dean Benson pledged the financial support to the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Foundation programme, which is helping young businesses to thrive, providing them with access to the region’s most established entrepreneurs.
He founded Visualsoft in 1998 and has since grown it into the largest ecommerce platform in the UK.
The Foundation is the second initiative Dean has personally supported this year. In January, he donated £20,000 to help combat digital poverty in the North East, helping local schools and disadvantaged pupils by providing items including laptops, iPads, and internet connectivity.
He is also an Entrepreneurs’ Forum board member, Teesside University governor, and non-executive chair of Northern Stable, which supports growing Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses.
Dean Benson said: “The North East is home to some of the best creative digital talent in the country and the future is bright with more tech start-ups on the horizon.
“In my experience, having a great business idea is just the first step. To build a successful company you need the right ecosystem of support, advice, and investment.
“The Forum’s Foundation is a perfect blend of this and will allow the next generation of tech entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition and build successful businesses.
“I’m excited to be able to directly support these entrepreneurs on their business journey and in seeing the wider impact the Foundation will have on entrepreneurship within the North East.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Foundation Programme sits among the Forum’s existing membership offer, which represents experienced North East entrepreneurs leading businesses with a minimum turnover of £250,000 per annum.
James Robson, Chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum said, “Dean’s donation is incredibly generous and allows us to move forward with a comprehensive offer for North East entrepreneurs.
“Through the Foundation we’ll support emerging entrepreneurial talent within the North East, providing access to experienced entrepreneurs via the Forum’s mentoring programme, a calendar of inspirational events and ongoing promotional opportunities.
“Dean has played a huge part in shaping the Foundation and we’re looking forward to its exciting future.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum was founded in 2002 by Sir Peter Vardy and Lorna Moran OBE and has grown from 40 founding members to hundreds of North East entrepreneurs.