The PopUp Business School

Dropping in and popping up: a session of the PopUp Business School

Teaching that business plans don’t work and that loans are evil, Alan Donegan and Simon Paine are unlikely to worry Harvard Business School or Insead any time soon.

However, this unlikely duo style themselves as start-up renegades aiming to change the ways businesses are founded, financed and operated.

The Pop-Up Business School

You’ve heard of pop-up shops that arrive in vacant premises on short-term deals to make the most of gaps in leases and lettings.

Donegan and Paine extended this model to business schools by setting up the PopUp Business School in 2011 with the aim of giving business and enterprise skills to people who need them the most.

Claiming that their venture’s approach is the polar opposite of traditional start-up support, they focus on “harder-to-start” people such as low income earners, the unemployed, people with disabilities, single parents and ex-offenders.

They say 98% of participants experience a significant boost to their confidence, business skills and ability to make things happen.

The school will tour the U.K. this summer, teaching aspiring entrepreneurs how to start a business.

Against the status quo

However, the advice they are giving out goes against the status quo that business books and universities often teach.

Donegan and Paine believe that anyone can start a company, even without a business plan or any funding.

Rather than preach the importance of business plans, company structures and loan funding, they use a combination of the latest online business models and a rapid approach to sales.

At a recent event in Reading, Berkshire, 43% of attendees started a business within the first two weeks of attending the course, and 38% of the attendees made a sale in that period.

Setbacks and dreams

Donegan told me in a recent interview that he co-founded the school after nearly abandoning his own dream of starting up in business.

“The government’s BusinessLink initiative nearly put me off following my dream of starting my own business and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” he says.

Paine, meanwhile, attributes his motivation to a desire to democratize business.

“Business shouldn’t be an exclusive club for those people with cash or who know how to write a business plan,” he says.

“I want to make it possible for everyone. That’s why we developed our approach.”

Donegan adds that what he most likes about teaching aspiring entrepreneurs is changing people’s perceptions of what is possible for them.

“It’s about changing the way they look at business and helping them to see a brighter future that they can take charge of,” he says.

Next, they plan to take the business overseas by popping up in the U.S. and Canada.

“Our mission,” says Donegan, “is to change the way schools, colleges, banks and government organizations teach how to start a business and help them to unleash the country’s entrepreneurial talent.”

 

From Forbes.com | May 31, 2017 | Written by: Andrew Cave

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