Start-up matchmaker forges firm relations

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The Independent Online
SETTING up in business can be lonely. So it is perhaps only right that an organisation acting as a matchmaker should prove a success, writes Roger Trapp.

Tim Scott insists that the Business Founders Bureau he set up six months ago is not like a marriage guidance counselling service. But it has certainly struck a chord with people who are either looking for someone to go into business with or for a partner to help them expand.

The idea sprang from Mr Scott's experience of making people redundant from the company for which he once worked. Although many wanted to start their own business, he realised that they often felt intimidated by not having the right skills. 'I came up with the idea of finding them partners so they could work in small groups.'

The concept started as a database operation last November. For practical reasons this was transformed into what Mr Scott calls an advertisement noticeboard, in a bulletin which he publishes, one month later.

For a one-off fee of pounds 8.50 for 10 words, businesses obtain an entry in the weekly updated booklet for two months. This is to allow them time to settle on a partner since 'you don't get into bed with the first person you meet'.

Mr Scott does not take a success fee, but makes all his money from the advertising.

So far, he has support from the Department of Employment services organisation, local enterprise agencies and Training and Enterprise Councils, while the Department of Trade and Industry's small business guides are promoting the idea. He has also started to form links with outplacement agencies and venture capital groups.

'It's all about helping them at a particular point in their history - either right at the beginning or further downstream,' Mr Scott said.

Business Founders Bureau is at Trinity Business Centre, 305 Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 1EY. Tel: 071-231 9282.