UK Finance Mentoring

Scottish Chambers of Commerce works in partnership with UK Finance to deliver a Mentoring Programme across Scotland. We are one of 12 organisations across the UK who delivers mentoring on behalf of UK Finance, a trade association for the banking and finance industry.

The mentors on this programme are all from the banking sector and look to connect with you as a means to give back to the Scottish business community. Businesses engage with UK Finance Mentoring to seek being connected with an experienced professional who will be able to mentor them through a specific issue or progress their business growth.

For more information then you can read our UK Finance case studies below, and you can contact our Business Mentoring team through the link on the home page.

Mentor: Marcelo Rodrigues

Mentee: Sarah Stenhouse

The benefits of mentoring have been well appreciated for many years now, but does this time-honoured knowledge transfer process work in the new “app” economy? A useful meeting of minds between Marcelo Rodrigues of Lloyds Group and Sarah Stenhouse of Instatstock Ltd. suggests that it does.

It’s hard to envision a more “new economy” company than Leith-based Instastock. Even as recently as ten years ago, few could have foreseen the basis for a company that acts as an intermediary between social media giant Instagram and digital marketing companies seeking access to their user-generated content.

The benefits of mentoring have been well appreciated for many years now, but does this time-honoured knowledge transfer process work in the new “app” economy? A useful meeting of minds between Marcelo Rodrigues of Lloyds Group and Sarah Stenhouse of Instatstock Ltd. suggests that it does.

It’s hard to envision a more “new economy” company than Leith-based Instastock. Even as recently as ten years ago, few could have foreseen the basis for a company that acts as an intermediary between social media giant Instagram and digital marketing companies seeking access to their user-generated content.

Instastock, trading as Pixey, uses Instagram’s hashtag system to find stock images for companies looking for specific or generic pictures, but lacking the time and resources to search through the content of Instagram’s 700 million users worldwide, and then get permission to use them for their own purposes. It then charges a fee for images and videos used, which it splits half way with the provider.

“We offer an accessible and affordable solution”. Sarah Stenhouse explains. “Agencies and brands are able to come to us and access images”.

Sarah (26) launched the company in 2016 after completing a marketing degree at Napier University. “We’re really an introduction service. We take a fee to get content permission on behalf of the Instagram user, the business pays $10 for photos, $20 for videos, of which the content creators retain half.”

“We’re quite like Uber. You could just phone for your own private hire cab, but it would take you more time. We save you time.”

Currently comprising just two employees, Pixey is looking to triple that number by early next year, and is concentrating on getting an edge on London-based competitors and become the default choice of advertising and branding agencies or “any business that cares about their visual content.”

Sarah considers herself lucky that the UK Finance-backed business mentoring scheme matched her up with Marcelo Rodriguez. The engagement lasted for about 14-15 months, with mentor and mentee meeting about five or six times in total, and exchanging emails in the interim.

Marcelo is a Brazilian-born banker currently working for Lloyds Banking Group as head of proposition development in the consumer finance division. He was steered into mentoring by Lloyds, who were encouraging senior executives to ‘give something back’ by helping young businesses.

“Marcello was great. He was really finance-oriented; he looked closely at my projections and, put me in touch with potential CFO” Sarah says. “He was really excited about what I was doing, and good at talking to me straight, for example telling me that I needed a holiday! He spotted things I wasn’t telling myself and he made me more confident.”

Relatively new to mentoring, Marco is no less enthusiastic about the encounter, “My engagement with Pixey was absolutely fantastic. As well as being nice to be able to help, it’s always good to be in touch with younger people and see the new generation coming through. Seeing how things are evolving keeps you fresh and makes you question how you do things. Sarah was very passionate about her ideas and had the energy to see them through”

“When I met her she was at an early stage in the process: She had a business idea, she had got a limited amount of initial funding. The concept was there but there was no product and no firm proposition. She was looking for help, asking how I do take this forward?”

“One key area in which I could help was in introducing her to my network, including a friend who is a CFO at a fintech start-up. Like hers, it is a digital business, so she could learn from him where to start asking for funding, and also interact with owners of marketing agencies and see if her proposition was something they’d be interested in.”

“I told her that the key thing is you need a very tight financial business plan in terms of future cash flow forecasts. I think I started trying to get Sarah to structure her thoughts: What’s the size of the market? How many marketing agencies are out there, how much money do they spend? What’s the competition and how are they doing? What are they good at and what are they missing?”

If Instatock does achieve its goal of “a good exit” several years down the line, the focus encouraged by good mentoring may deserve some of the credit.

Mentor: Lynn Graves

Mentee: George Shephard

Mentoring relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Most last for at least a year but some, like that between Lynn Graves and Research & Consultation Limited are short and sweet.

George Shephard, the man behind Research & Consultation, is a highly experienced advertising and marketing consultant, with a wide range of experience in many sectors. Clients have included Tenants Lager, care homes group Target Health Care and investment managers Brewin Dolphin. “I’m ageneralist” he says. “I do my own thing as a freelance consultant.”

George sought mentoring to help him work out how to diversify his offering into a digital learning product, something that clients could download remotely that would mean that he wouldn’t always have to be physically present when his expertise was sought.

“I had the content and I knew what I wanted to say, but technically this remote model was a new area for me. I see myself as more of a creative type, with a million good ideas but not always being able to see them through. I had to think about getting some semblance of organisation and discipline into the process, andI felt I needed to get some advice.”

George turned to Lynn Graves, an experienced mentor and Glasgow University MBA who has a senior role in the investments and pensions division of Scottish Widows. Although their engagement was limited, it was very much to the point. According to her mentee, Lynn honed in on the right questions:

What is my product? How does it work? What should I be doing with it? “I needed someone who was more disciplined than me, and Lynn is certainly that.” George explains. “ It was pretty short. I was quite interested in a quick hit rather than a long drawn-out process, more a shot in the arm that would help me get this product out there. We only met once or twice and we had quite a few email exchanges. Lynn was really good at giving me the killer questions to work through. She made me think about how I should present the product and how should I go about marketing it.”

“I got the impression that other mentoring contacts she had involved a a longer process than the couple of months we were in contact. And one year on, now I am actually about to launch a start-up business, I met well be interested in a more in-depth mentoring programme.”

“I had no idea whether the way I used it was appropriate or even normal, but I wasn’t aware of any particular stipulations or restrictions where mentoring is concerned, so it worked for me.”

For her part Lynn, who not only mentors Scottish Widows colleagues but also final year students at her alma mater Stirling University (“giving something back”), the role of short-term sounding-board was not one she was used to but one she happily complied with.

“My engagement with George was slightly different from the usual for me, as I got the sense with him that he was tapping a range of different resources to bounce ideas off people. I think he had a couple of different potential business models in mind and was thinking about might be the pros and cons of each of them. He was fairly well progressed in what he wanted to do anyway, and after our engagement, he had another sounding boards he sought out in terms of his next steps. It wasn’t quite what I was anticipating, but it’s what the individual wants that counts.”

Lynn was happy to fit in with George’s needs, seeing all mentoring as “an opportunity to where appropriate to give support” and “a good opportunity to use the experience I’ve gained through working with a larger organisation.”

Having always worked in a corporate environment where personal development is well-supported she is sensitive to the needs of those in SMEs, who might not have that opportunity, and if that means a quick engagement to knock vague ideas into shape, then she recognises that the strength of the mentoring model is its flexibility – horses for courses in other words.

Email: mentoring@scottishchambers.org.uk

Tel: 0141 444 7500

Testimonials

“On a personal level, mentoring gives you the confidence to grow as a person. Our mentors have always acted as a sounding board which is a massive benefit when making tough decisions. The service is great because the mentors give guidance and support but the answers lie with us, the business owners. When my business went through Mentoring, we increased our turnover and went from 6 employees to 20.”
Dianne Drummond, Director, B-Dacs
“Business mentoring made the most difference to our business and growth. Our turnover increased threefold, with near similar increases in employment. Our mentor made a positive impact, especially on our outlook and on the shape of our business growth.”
Michael McGhee, Partner, Neo Environmental
“My turnover and profits have increased substantially and I would recommend mentoring without a shadow of a doubt. After each meeting with my mentor, I was like a wind up bunny and I’d go off and get things done! Not only did mentoring help me to increase my profit margins, it re-instilled my passion for the business.”
Susan Anderson, Creative Director, Eikon Design

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