Paul Lancaster
Paul Lancaster, founder and event producer of Newcastle Startup Week and co-founder of TRYBES.
Jane Imrie

Support for North East SMEs as major startup event moves to year-round online community

The founder behind one of the North East’s main events for startup businesses has pivoted his venture to provide year-long support.

Paul Lancaster, the founder and event producer of the annual 5-day Newcastle Startup Week festival, has launched an online community to provide support and advice for growing businesses across the region and beyond.

After attracting just over 800 delegates to his third Newcastle Startup Week festival in May 2019, Paul was aiming for 1,000 attendees last year, but his plans were derailed by the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to the online Startup Week Community which people can join all year round, Paul launched his new ‘5 Star Focus Programme’ for entrepreneurs, business leaders and freelancers in January 2021 as a way to provide a deeper level of support over five days of one-to-one business coaching.

Paul explained: “Although COVID had a massively negative impact on my business last year, it also forced me to innovate on an almost monthly basis and made it possible for me to provide a deeper level of support to new and established business owners all year-round.

In addition to pivoting and expanding the Newcastle Startup Week proposition, Paul also co-founded a new business last year with Andrew Esson and Mark Renney data-driven signposting and matchmaking platform for startup communities - known as TRYBES.

Set to launch in 2021, priority access to the TRYBES platform will be given to all members of the Startup Week community in order to support their growth.

“Nothing compares to the buzz and excitement of our physical Newcastle Startup Week and Founders’ Friday events, but the online Startup Week Community is a place where I can focus my efforts on the members who join and provide a genuinely inclusive, supportive and collaborative space for new and established small business owners alike.

“During the lockdown, the need for people to feel a sense of belonging and be part of a community of like-minded people has become even more important.”

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