My name is Gavin McWhirter and I run my own business under the name Digital Islands. We have been selected to run this scale up project for Newhaven by East Sussex County Council.
My background is international business development. I was head of the London office of Ireland’s export development and venture organisation, Enterprise Ireland. We helped Irish companies that were looking to export out of Ireland into the UK, and over a ten year period I worked with hundreds of small and medium sized companies, across multiple sectors.
Since 2017 I have been working independently and have continued to work on projects helping SMEs with their sales, marketing, market research and growth plans. I run workshops on value proposition development, develop sales and marketing plans, provide lead generation and market research services.
I also have a good network of contacts that can be helpful for growing businesses, whether it is about legal help, recruitment, an HR crisis, property or finance, there is someone who can help.
Two other area where I have strong experience that will be used during this project. First is the development of Peer to Peer networks. Often people associate networking as a way of finding leads – and there are plenty of good networks that help with this (Like the Albion Business Network or the Newhaven Chamber breakfast club), but not as a trusted network. But research by the Scaleup Institute has shown that Peer to Peer groups can be one of the most valuable ways of gaining trusted support and advice when growing a business. So you can be sure that part of this programme will be the creation of a small Peer to Peer network of the 12 companies participating in this project.
The second area where I have experience is in the development of mentor networks for SMEs. In the past this was for Irish companies and so it ways usually about finding people with a connection to Ireland, based in the UK, who would be willing to help the Irish company. For this project we will be looking to identify people with real knowledge and experience of your sector. People who have helped a business to grow and become successful. Many will be a little older and some may have recently retired from the business, but they will bring extensive experience and expertise. The mentors can not be consultants, so they have nothing to gain from taking part in this process, other than the sense of reward derived from helping another ambitious business owner.