As 2019 draws to an end and our festive hangovers fade away, I thought it would be fun to look over some of the milestones we’ve hit at ICE over the last 12 months. Its been an amazing year, join me as I indulge in a little bit of showing off!
Firstly, none of the exciting stuff we do on Campus happens without a load of hard work and I’m very lucky to have such an incredible team at ICE. A big thank you to the Front of House team at ICE, Rachel, Huw, Llinos and Lesley. All of the cool stuff we’ve achieved this year couldn’t have happened without your focus, commitment and hard work. Thank you.
Here we go!!
We opened the doors in 2019 with a shiny new Colab! We took a look at some other coworking spaces and analysed how our members used ICE and decided to create more open, flexible and innovative space. We invested in new furniture, a new colour scheme and doubled the available coworking space. We didn’t move Steve Morgans desk though, you never move Steve Morgan.
Entrepreneurs Champion of the Year – National Winner
I warned you I would be showing off…. In January I was invited up to ‘that London’ to celebrate entrepreneurship in the UK with the amazing Great British Entrepreneur Awards team. I was shocked and delighted to have taken the UK national Entrepreneurs’ champion back to Wales with me.
We decided to show off our new space and celebrate our partnership with the Welsh Government national hubs network with a party! I was really happy to have the room full of our members, good friend and partners as we shared our plans for 2019
Lesley joins the team!
As part of our ambitious plans to take ICE on tour with the 5-9 Club, we welcomed Lesley Williams to the team. Lesley’s focus, enthusiasm and genuine drive to change communities has blown a gale of fresh air into our business.
Feedback from our community told us that new businesses really look for guidance in the world of digital marketing and selling online. We put together a dream team of Fran from Lunax and Steve from Insight to develop an all day course covering digital marketing in great detail.
5-9 Club Ebbw Vale
In 2019 we planned to deliver our incredible 5-9 club in the Valleys and our first remote location was Ebbw Vale. Lesley worked hard to find partners and build a programme designed to help pre-start businesses. We held the 8 week programme in the beautiful General Offices.
MIT Boston trip
As part of the MIT Industrial Liaison Programme and our partnership with Welsh Government, we were fortunate enough to visit Boston and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. We networked with entrepreneurship educators at MIT and learned from the very best in the world. It was a mind-blowing experience and positively reinforced our approached here at ICE.
5-9 Club Merthyr Tydfil
We continued to cover the Valleys and launched our 5-9 club in Merthyr Tydfil. We worked with partners to deliver this 8 week programme in a selection of town centre locations. It was really exciting to deliver entrepreneurial support on the high street.
The Caerphilly Hackathon
We love a good Hackathon at ICE and in the Summer we partnered up with Caerphilly Borough Council to run the Caerphilly Hackathon. We set teams of founders and council staff a challenge based around the foundational economy. The winning team was Swapp, a skill-sharing app. We were delighted that Swapp developed the idea further and were awarded £100,000 from the foundational economy fund to launch the service.
MIT visits ICE
We were delighted to welcome Stephanie Woerner from MIT to speak at ICE. Stephanie is a research scientist and author of “What’s your digital business model”. Working with Be The Spark we filled the Colab with entrepreneurs from across Wales.
5-9 Club Church Village
Toward the end of the summer, we packed up our 5-9 Club roadshow and headed a little closer to home and to Church Village. Working with the life learning centre we supported another group of budding entrepreneurs with our 8-week programme. This cohort was particularly fun because we held the celebration and pitch night at the business of a 5-9 club Alumni; Role Play Lane. It felt great to celebrate at the incredible venue of someone who is delivering on their plan.
24 Gaming Marathon
What better way to celebrate the record-breaking summer of 2019 than sitting in a dark room and playing video games for 24 hours straight. In partnership with Macmillan, we challenged ourselves to run two games of Skyrim, non-stop, with no breaks, for 24 hours. It was great fun and we raised £531 for charity! The promotional video made my GSD was great too!
On a wet October morning at the Welsh ICE Campus, 18 startup founders dug out their shovels and donned their raincoats, as they set about planting over a dozen Crabapple, Rowan and Silver Birch trees.
Our Campus has space to plant 80 trees at various locations as we look to make the most of our green spaces as well as take advantage of the practical and environmental benefits that trees bring.
5-9 Club Treorchy
Our 5-9 club tour ended in rapturous fashion in Treorchy. We worked closely with local partners to deliver our programme in the heart of Treorchy high street, the main sessions were held on the site of the old Burberry factory, in the beautiful Cwm Farm shop. Our pitch night was held in the Lions Den, at the Lion pub Treorchy. RCT delivered a really special cohort.
In November we dedicated the month to raising money for testicular cancer, in particular supporting the powerful story of cancer survivor and Welsh ICE member, Adrian Kent from Inspire Challenge. On the first of November we planted an empty ball pit in the middle of the Colab, we then challenged the community to fill it with balls! It cost 50p a ball with all the proceeds going to charity, we raised an incredible £460.
A workshop a week
In November we hit a really special milestone. We now run a GRIT workshop every week, without fail. Our two hour workshops now also run in the afternoon and after hours, giving entrepreneurs and founders the chance to continue learning after a days work. Rachel, Lesley and our wonderful community and experts have worked tirelessly to make this happen and I am very proud.
The Chairman’s Award
As the year drew to an end and to celebrate a year of partnership with Welsh Government on the nation Hubs programme we held the inaugural chairman’s award. We were offering one business a £5000 cash injection to supercharge their business to the next level. It was a magical, emotional and moving night with the overall prize going to the wonderful Dave Beadle and Rotundus.
ICE Christmas Market
We have stacks of ridiculously talented individuals here at ICE, so it was only right that we held a festive market for them all to sell their wares. We had art, cosmetics, books, calendars and even Mulled wine to kick off the holiday season. It was a huge success, Easter market anyone?
Keiran joins the team!
We ended the year on a real high with another expansion to our incredible team. Keiran joins us at the start of January as our specialist administrator, helping us with all things compliance. Kerian has been involved with ICE from the early days as a member and its feel fantastic welcome him formally into the team.