Leicester Startups Accelerator: Next Cohort: 17th Jan – 24th Feb 2022

Being a startup founder can be daunting, especially if it’s an ambitious and innovative business idea, but it doesn’t have to be…

Leicester Startups presents a brand new accelerator programme to help you grow your startup. We’ve pulled together a whole community of experienced founders and business experts into a high-tempo six-week programme of mentorship, networking and motivation.

“It takes a city to raise a startup”

Whether you want to get investor ready, grow sales faster or just learn what your customers really need, we can help you. Previous participants have raised investments and you can view our last Demo Day here.

The programme is funded through the LLEP’s Growth Hub and is completely free with no equity taken. Places are limited though and subject to a selection process and eligibility criteria described below.

Our Team & Community

Leicester Startups has been helping founders of local start-ups since 2013 through events, networking and mentoring. Here are some of the amazing people we have ready to help you – many more examples in our Help Engine.

David Chan

David is a serial tech founder and also Entrepreneur in Residence at CyLon.  He founded his first tech startup while still an undergraduate at Imperial College and has co-founded/worked in multiple startups in the UK and Silicon Valley doing CRM, eCommerce and cyber security. David has a wealth of experience in business, software development, and startup environments.

Sophie Hainsworth

Sophie is the CEO and cofounder of award-winning place promotion app LoyalFree which helps people discover exclusive deals, exciting local events and fun interactive trails across 25 UK towns and cities. Sophie’s skills include social media communications, marketing strategy, business strategy, business growth, data analytics, public speaking, sales and lead generation.

Phil Zeidler

CEO of DeadHappy, Phil is a serial entrepreneur who has set up and run various successful business in the insurance sector and invested in a number of business’ from music, sports clothing and the insurance sector. Specialties: leadership, strategic planning, account management, budgeting, business development, business plans, change management, contract management, delivery, direct marketing, executive management, finance, marketing, relationship management, sales, tender writing.

Pamela Sharpe

Founder of Mela & Sharpe and Brooks & Sharpe. Pam is a serial entrepreneur with over 11 years in e-commerce and business consulting, investment advisor and a mentor and volunteer with Prince’s Trust, Virgin Start Up, SCALEINK and City University of London.

Jim Shields

Founder of Twist & Shout Communications, based in Leicester and Dallas, Texas. He is one of the early pioneers that uses comedy to help companies achieve notoriety, despite their crushingly dull products and services. He’s also written two books (one bestseller) about the relationship between creative individuals and the companies they work for. https://www.threeguysbook.com

Samantha Tubb

Samantha is an investor and strategic advisor with a portfolio of small business investments and non-executive positions including ScholarPack, a cloud-based management information system for primary schools, Dorothy & Theodore (e-commerce) and Bred’s Foods (food manufacture.) Samantha’s mentoring approach for growing teams includes topics ranging from finance (both internal management and external fund raising), to the trade-offs required to maximise growth potential, to practical sales and marketing approaches.

Ben Ravilious

CEO, ParticiPoll (audience polling startup) and co-founder at UltimateWeb (websites and apps for startups).

Also the founder of Leicester’s tech startup community, Ben runs regular startup events and represents innovative businesses in the city.

Sian Conway

Sian is an ethical marketing strategist who helps Big Why business founders start and scale businesses which change the world! As Founder of #EthicalHour she unites a community of over 58,000 changemakers online to support each other and grow the ethical economy. Her membership community takes the loneliness out of building a business with purpose and gives ethical business owners the tools, connections and support they need to scale sustainably.

Gavin Loftus

20 years of senior FMCG Marketing and Sales experience.  Having worked in senior commercial roles in the UK and internationally with Nestle, Diageo, Reckitt Benckiser, Associated British Foods and most recently at Weetabix, where he led the marketing growth agenda for a disruptive start-up business, growing revenue to +£20m in 4 years.

The Programme

Through the LS Accelerator we’ll provide a selected cohort of founders (including first-time entrepreneurs) a structured 6-week programme of workshops, round tables & mentoring. The programme is a mix of 1-2-1 mentoring, classroom learning and independent working, tailored to your start-up’s unique needs. We’ll help you focus on, and solve, the most critical challenges holding you back as you move through developing, shaping and validating your business.

Throughout the programme you’ll learn about:-

  • Lean experimentation:  The Lean startup approach provides the tools to build, test and learn
  • Customer Development: Learn how to talk to prospective customers in a way that reveals their true needs and validates your business model assumptions.
  • User experience (UX) design: The process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.
  • Revenue modelling and pricing: Build a framework for how a business can generate income.
  • Business Growth/marketing/hacking: Learn some of the best strategies to grow your business, including a few organic and viral growth hacking mechanisms.
  • Financial management: Deplying the right tech at the right time
  • Lead generation: The process of filling your sales funnel with people who are interested in your business
  • Sales process: Learn how to position you product, target customers, and sell your unique value proposition.
  • Governance: Often ignored until the last minute or its too late!
  • Intellectual property: Patents, designs, trademark and copyright.
  • Equity & Fundraising: Learn about the different fundraising and partnering options and how to build a Pitch Deck.
  • Pitch practise: Opportunity to practise and refine your pitch with real investors
  • Demo Day: Present your pitch to a panel of experienced investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Workshops take place every Tuesday and Thursday between 9:30am and 11am. Round tables occur every Friday between 1pm and 2:30pm, The rest of the time is available for connections to mentors and product/service development.

Venue & Virtual

Covid restrictions permitting, some of the activities may be delivered from our new COVID safe co-working space. However, the entire programme will also be available via Zoom. All the workshops will also be recorded.


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for our accelerator you must fit the following criteria:-

  • Working on a start-up with an innovative, scalable business model (please note this programme is not suitable for freelance, consultancy or lifestyle businesses)
  • A working prototype (or “Minimum Viable Product”) product/service, preferably with active users.
  • Have the in-house capability to make frequent rapid changes to your product/service during the six weeks of the accelerator
  • Able to commit to a six-week flexible programme with ~6 hours attendance to sessions each week
  • Based in Leicester or Leicestershire (ideally a registered company)

Most accelerators focus on making start-ups investment-ready and this will be one of the main aims for our programme with investment advisors available. However, the programme also encourages applications by “bootstrap” model businesses who are purely seeking growth rather than investment.

We believe diversity makes for more successful startups and warmly welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

If you’re not sure whether this is for you or would like further information please do drop us an email at accelerator@leicesterstartups.com, or contact Sam Larke on 07794 601005.


Application Process

To apply, please click on the application questionnaire link below and complete your response by 5pm on 13th December 2021:-

Apply Now

We will shortlist and interview eligible applicants and announce the successful participants by 17th December 2021.


Sponsors & Supporters

We’re delighted that the Leicester Startups Accelerator is being supported by British Business Bank and is made possible thanks to the Leicester Startup Co-working Project. The project is funded by LLEP (Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership), and led by the University of Leicester and De Montfort University, LCB Depot (Leicester City Council) and CASE.