Young entrepreneurs inspired by top government advisor

Young entrepreneurs at a North East college have gained valuable advice and inspiration about starting their own business from a fast-rising national business owner and ministerial advisor.

Rekha Mehr, advisor to business secretary Vince Cable as well as being named as one of the entrepreneurs in residence at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, was at Gateshead College to offer advice on how to create successful start-ups and speak to students about their business ideas.

Ms Mehr, who launched her own business Pistachio Rose in 2012 after discovering a gap in the market for Indian desserts, provides advice to the government on how they can aid businesses. She is also a strong champion and advocate of start-ups and small businesses, and aims to use this role to encourage positive change in the current market.

Rekha saw the college’s student enterprise market stalls, where students sold items they had made in order to display their creative entrepreneurial skills.

This was followed by a workshop where she provided her thoughts to students on their business ideas, answering questions and offering advice. 

Rekha said: “The students at Gateshead College have some really impressive enterprise ideas and it’s fantastic to see their drive to create a competitive edge.

“It is clear that Gateshead College is carrying out some exceptional work in preparing students to have the correct skills, knowledge and attitude to help them to be successful in business.

“During my career the power of networking and building contacts has been incredibly important. It’s brilliant to see that the students are already coordinating networking events with the local business community and networking with them.”

The visit highlights Gateshead College’s commitment to inspire students and provide expert advice on start-up business ideas, ensuring they are in the best possible position to launch a successful business.

Gateshead College is part of the Gazelle Colleges Group, which was designed to lead pioneering change in Further Education by committing to encouraging and supporting entrepreneurialism within the sector.

Adam Tomas, 23, lives in the Scottish Borders and travels to Gateshead College to study welding. He has recently started his own enterprise, Blackthorne Metalworks, transforming scrap steel into decorative household items.

He said: “I chose Gateshead College because it was the best place for me to study welding and now I’m using my skills to start my own business with support from lecturers.

“It was so helpful to be able talk to Rekha about starting up a business. She provided lots of tips about how to analyse your own product before you take it to market and the importance of getting your USP clear before speaking to potential customers.”

Rekha fought off competition from 200 other applicants for her role at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which includes acting as a voice for small and new businesses based on her own experience and comment from the start up community. She also aims to raise awareness of the available help the government has to offer for budding entrepreneurs.

Following the visit to Gateshead College an evening networking event was held by FIRST, a student networking group, and jointly coordinated by Gateshead College Northern Stars and Northumbria University students.

The Northern Stars is an enterprise society launched by the college to give local students a platform to showcase their entrepreneurial talents.