Category Archives: Blog

Blog posts and latest happenings with Unlocking Potential

Future Focus: Change Your Life!

We’re all set for our sell-out Future Focus event next week with Innocent’s Dan Germain and Gavin Jones from John Lewis Partnership. If you’ve got your ticket and are wondering what to expect, check out our video round-up from the May event with Lara Morgan and Robert Salvoni. Feedback was it can change your life.

If you haven’t got a ticket, sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on the most inspiring moments from our superstar speakers AND to be the first to know when tickets are released for our November 30th event. Our keynote is soon to be announced but let’s just say it’s a date with data not to be missed. To give you a clue, he is a presenter, an economist and a master of transforming the complex into the exquisitely clear and we can’t wait to tell you more! Sign up for updates here.

Hire Like a Pro!

Recruitment is often a tense time with lots of things to do and too little time to do them. However, all too often, we lose sight of the fact that today’s applicants might be tomorrow’s customers.

With automation happening left right and centre, we will do well to remember the art of best practise in recruitment. In these handy top tips, we give you some simple pointers to help you make the best impression of your organisation for your candidates (many of whom put a great deal of time and effort into their applications) so that everyone has the best and fairest experience.

  1. Most job boards now have an auto response so that candidates know that their application has arrived.  Hurrah for technology!  However, if you ask applicants to come straight through to you, thank them for applying – even an automated response will keep them from wondering if you got their application (and from ringing you to check)!
  2. Make your process clear in your advert.
    1. Your deadline is your deadline.  It is better to have a short turnaround time and extend the advert than to close a job ad early (lots of candidates might be in the middle of applying if you close it early – nothing is more annoying than wasting precious time)
    2. If you welcome calls to discuss the job, put a name and number of someone who can help
    3. If you are planning on interviewing on a certain date, publish the date in your advert
    4. If you are only planning on getting back to shortlisted candidates, make this clear and give a date after which they can assume they have been unsuccessful.
  3. If you can make time to let unsuccessful candidates know that they haven’t been selected for an interview, this is a nice touch.
  4. Plan your interviews, asking each candidate the same core questions.  Score each candidate objectively against the same criteria and take notes!
  5. When interviewing, let candidates know when they will hear back from you and let them know if that situation changes.
  6. When you have interviewed candidates, offer the job to your top candidate first and only turn down your second choice candidates once you know that your first choice has accepted the post.
  7. Offer feedback to candidates you have interviewed but decided not to hire. Thank them for coming to the interview and for their time.  Keep it simple – explain how the candidate did well and how they performed against the questions and the job requirements. Usually, giving feedback is a good opportunity to close down the situation.  If you are uncomfortable about a telephone conversation, you could write a simple letter thanking them for their time and politely turning them down.  Avoid getting drawn into long debates over why they have been declined.
  8. Make sure you take up references for your top candidate.

Welcoming Dan Germain from Innocent Smoothies!

For those of you lucky enough to have swiped the last few tickets to our next Future Focus Event on the 26th September, here’s a sneaky peek at one of our exciting speakers.

Dan Germain – a trailblazer for the branding buffs amongst us, is all set to share his refreshing approach to making business goals come true. He’ll be exploring how he has created the unique culture of Innocent and how you can grow your team around you without compromising your brand.

Later in the day a select few business leaders have been invited to join Dan at a Future Focus Lab where they will work together to explore how they develop their brand and culture to prepare their business for the future.

Didn’t manage to get a ticket? Sign up here to our mailer to be the first to find out about the next event in November. Interested in coming to a Lab? Click here to fill out your expression of interest.

Coming next: Find out about our second keynote speaker, Gavin Jones, the IT Innovation Manager for the John Lewis Partnership next week.


2nd Speaker for Future Focus Event revealed

Since we announced Dan Germain from Innocent Drinks as one half of our fantastic Future Focus line-up for September, the response has been unprecedented and the buzz exceptional. Now the excitement is likely to double as we can unveil our second speaker who is from an equally well-loved, household brand…

Gavin Jones from John Lewis Partnership, is our second keynote for our “Seeking Tomorrow’s Customer” event on 26th September. We’re excited to hear how they are meeting their customers’ changing demands and responding to competition, particularly through technical innovations. As the IT Innovation Manager for John Lewis Partnership, Gavin is a key driving force behind the Partnership’s aim to be a world-leading brand in innovation. The John Lewis Partnership is one of the UKs most recognised and trusted brands which, in recent years, has differentiated its value proposition and developed strong initiatives for its customers. Gavin will explore how the Partnership innovates, and how it is using technology to respond to changing customer trends and expectations.

Tickets are currently allocated but more spaces will be released next week. So if you haven’t already signed up to our waiting list, click here to be the first to know about availability.

To make sure you don’t miss out on future big name speakers and inspiring events, make sure you sign up to receive all our latest news and updates by joining our mailing list.

If you have a confirmed place but can no longer attend, we encourage you to let us know as soon as possible so we can reallocate your ticket if it is no longer needed. Drop us a line at Thank you!

Future Focus Speaker is revealed…

And it’s a juicy line-up!

Future Focus

Seeking Tomorrow’s Customer is the theme for our next Future Focus Event on 26th September and we’ve lined up two pioneering business leaders to share their fresh thinking, creative spirit and game-changing approach to explore how SMEs in Cornwall can look to the future…

Sharing their wisdom gained from decades of combined experience in customer insights, brand and technology we are excited to announce two giants of world leading innovation:

Dan Germain, Group Head of Brand at Innocent Drinks helped create one of the most engaging brands in the world, built on social media. Now Cornwall business leaders have the opportunity to squeeze the brains of the man who built the world’s most famous smoothie brand from scratch.

Dan has been with the healthy drinks company since the start and is their brand and innovation champion so we’re really looking forward to finding out his recipe for success. He’ll take us through his whirlwind story of the Innocent Smoothie – the company’s triumphs and catastrophes, giving us a unique behind the scenes look at how their brand continues to develop today. He will be able to share how the growing brand maintains its most important values such as sustainability and ethics as a global company and give Cornwall’s business leaders an insight into the thinking behind future innovations of the Innocent brand. Dan will talk about the importance of your people and company culture and how this reflects directly on your brand, turning the spotlight on how SMEs can harness what makes them unique to fuel their business growth.

With Dan’s focus on what goes on inside your business, our second keynote speaker will focus on responding to external demands. We’re excited to hear from the ‘innovation evangelist’ of who’ll share how the company he works for is meeting their customers’ changing demands and responding to competition, particularly through technical innovations.

Our second speaker is still under wraps but both of our speakers are at the forefront of innovation and they will give us a glimpse of how large companies are finding new ways to seek tomorrow’s customer.

If you want to hear from two giants of world-leading innovation, you can book your space here.

There’s no cost to attend this event, it is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The need to make recruitment more human again – and how to do it.

Recruitment automation has really changed this profession over the last 2 decades. Long gone now, are the days where people only reach for their local newspaper to look at all the available opportunities. Now they are more likely to reach for their smartphone and ping over their CV at the touch of an ‘Apply Now’ button. Is it any wonder, that whilst these automated platforms are spitting out auto-responses left, right and centre, that candidates are doing more mindless CV-slinging without so much as a cover letter? Hands up! I am guilty of loving this technology – so much lost time has been saved to focus on more value-adding activities. But we need to recognise the consequences.

The trouble is, that some passion, effort and tailoring goes a long way when it comes to sorting the wheat from the chaff of applicants. As an employer, you can’t help but be wooed by the flattery of a targeted job application – you want to know the candidate wants your job, not just any job! There is also no doubt in my mind that as we move into an employees’ marketplace, clunky online application platforms will result in businesses losing out on top talent UNLESS the candidates have good, emotive, human reasons to spend their precious time applying.

I think it is time that employers looked at their recruitment processes with a view to making a conscious return to humanity. Automation is great for some areas of recruitment e.g. to save administration costs. Recruitment at arms’ length might be appealing to a busy hiring manager and will prevent unwanted interruptions – but I say – be interrupted! Recruitment is about people, about relationships and building the ones you want! The point is, if as employers we don’t go about making recruitment more personal, applicants will respond equally impersonally or worse, won’t respond at all.

Here are 5 simple tips that can help make your recruitment about relationships and help candidates feel more invested in their applications:

  1. At the very least, put a contact name and telephone number of a friendly, open-minded person, who knows the job well, on the advert so candidates can contact someone in the office to find out more about the job.
  2. Put images and photos in your adverts where possible and use social media channels to show off who you are as people. Team pictures and office dogs, in my experience, get the most engagement. If you have a page about your jobs on your website, make sure it is populated with all the human content you can muster!
  3. Make a video advert, showing candidates what your company is all about and show them the job you need them to do. Done well, this will make your advert stand out and will give candidates a really good flavour of who you are as people and as an organisation. Share this far and wide – it’s not only good for recruitment, it can also be a great marketing tool! You don’t need a big budget for this – this advert was made on an iPhone.
  4. Consider holding an open day for interested candidates to come along to look around the premises and meet the team – a great opportunity to scout out the talent and encourage applications from the people you are really interested in.
  5. Be confident about making your organisational values the key focus of who you are looking for to fit in with the team and the company. Often, the ‘who’ is more important than the ‘what they can do’ when it comes to picking your best applicant.

This piece was written by Nicky Luke, Talent and Recruitment Manager at Unlocking Potential.

Recruitment Video Advertising is on the Rise

In 2017, video advertising across social media continues to build momentum with a rapid pace of innovation in ad formats and tremendous audience growth. Recruitment advertising is no stranger to this trend. Data shows that candidates are spending considerably more time engaging with video job adverts than those that are only text:

“Candidates spent more than triple (316%) the time on a video job description (2 min. & 54 seconds) than they did on a text job description (55 seconds).

And when a candidate plays the video on the job description the user spends an average of 5 minutes & 23 seconds viewing that job (an increase of 487%).”-

The great thing is, with a smartphone at your disposal, the tools to create a compelling and engaging recruitment video are well within your grasp!

Here at Unlocking Potential Jobs, we encourage employers advertising on our platform to get in front of the camera and use video to show why their companies are great to work for and their opportunity is not one to be missed by encouraging fantastic candidates to join their teams. It’s a huge bonus for candidates too, as they get a unique insight into the company they are applying to with video adverts in a way which is impossible to capture on paper.

We’ve tried and tested video advertising for our own roles, too and have seen a huge 60% increase in our numbers of applicants. Here is our marketing video advert, shot on an iPhone, to give you an idea of what works.

Dos and Don’ts
We’ve put together this short animation to give you some ‘Dos and Don’ts’ on how to make your video job advert stand out.

Example Video Adverts
Here are some of the job adverts we’ve had on Unlocking Potential Jobs, generating terrific responses:

*Royalty free music sources:
• YouTube Library
• Premium Beat

You’re Hired – An Employee Point of View

Amber GardnerFresh Graduates: Asking questions, finding opportunity and being brave – my new job.

Joining the workforce can be a scary concept when you are leaving university, especially for those of us who have never really known what direction to go in. Having only been at my new job for less than two months, I have learnt a lot, not just about recruiting but about myself.

Believing in your application: Just before I applied for the job, I was at the stage where I was feeling very uninspired. I was determined to not apply for a job that I didn’t want; contrary to some advice from others who told me to apply for anything – that just getting any job was a good idea. This advice might work for some people but my heart wasn’t in applying for jobs I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. Traipsing through pages of job adverts can be an arduous task and I probably avoided looking at some job adverts, as they can be off-putting if you don’t think you have enough experience. There is the fear of getting no reply from job applications or a reply which isn’t the news you were hoping for, which can be a knock to your confidence. Luckily I was brave enough to apply for the next job that caught my eye and interest.

My reply came when I was just queuing to get on a plane from Dubai back to the United Kingdom. After a rushed email reply, landing on English soil, a few phone calls and a lot of sleep, I had a Skype interview. The next day I travelled back to Cornwall, had a meeting and then a job offer. Before I even started my new job, it taught me that I should be more confident in myself, my skills and who I am. It only takes that one application.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: One thing that is incredibly important when starting a new job is to be confident in what you do but also confident in asking questions. I ask a lot of questions, and I asked more than a lot at the beginning but I am not scared about asking questions. Thanks to the support of my team, bit by bit, I am constantly gaining confidence in my actions and I hope I always ask questions, as that means I am always learning.

Opportunity: A job will always be what you make of it; enthusiasm is a great approach to a new job and confidence in your ideas as this can lead to new opportunities. Without having the confidence to put your ideas out there and put yourself out there you aren’t achieving your full potential. In my new job, I have enjoyed exploring the possibilities of how I can assist in new ways and how my role fits in within the wider team.

I’m not saying I know everything or my confidence is suddenly through the roof but I think we all need to stop and appreciate how quickly we can grow and learn. When you are supported by a team you can really build on what you bring to the table and discover what you are passionate about. When you are studying it can be hard to relate to the working world, especially if you don’t have much experience in a variety of jobs. Being open to new opportunities, asking questions and just being brave enough to apply can result in a whole new adventure which will help you build confidence and learn a whole host of new things. You just need to make the first move.

Amber Gardner – Recruitment Assistant, Unlocking Potential

Three Quarters of Cornish Businesses are feeling Confident of Success

Future FocusMore than three quarters of Cornish businesses polled by Unlocking Potential at our Future Focus event on May 9th, say they’re feeling confident about success. That’s despite national trends which suggest the uncertainty of Brexit, the General Election and global instability are causing business leaders to be more pessimistic than before the Brexit vote last year. 28% went further and said they were “brimming with confidence, optimism and belief” and were certain it was going to be a good year for them.

The live survey of up to 150 delegates took place at the second Future Focus event, held at the Eden Project with global entrepreneur and Pacific Direct Founder Lara Morgan as well as local business champion Robert Salvoni as keynote speakers. Launched in January by Unlocking Potential, Future Focus delivers inspirational speaker events and labs, designed to help Cornish business leaders rise to the challenges and opportunities of future growth. Delivered in partnership with the University of Exeter, the £4.7 million programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Programme Director Allyson Glover used the latest electronic software surveying kit to ask delegates to respond to questions about their businesses and themselves as business leaders.

“It was an inspirational morning full of new connections and amazing insights into how we can all take charge of change. Robert helped delegates to focus on the main thing and Lara shook things up with her direct but honest expert advice”.

“More than a hundred Cornish businesses told us about their intentions over the next 5 years with 85% wanting to grow and that the main barriers include lack of strategy and market conditions. So, we’ll be working hard over the next few months to bring Cornish businesses the events and labs that will help address these needs”.

Future FocusSean White who owns WeSUP Paddleboard Centre in Falmouth was attending an Unlocking Potential event for the first time. He says he’s come away with lots of ideas to get his team working together and leveraging their skills more.

“When Lara was talking up there it was really powerful, really moving and it really resonated with me. Every penny I’ve ever earned has gone into my business and my staff so I am excited about standing here now and hearing these people talking in a way which means that all of that could come to something. It could mean something. So I feel massively inspired. I feel this whole shift in my universe after this morning”.

“It’s amazing. These people who stood up there and talked, and those sat round the table are really empowering, they really believe in themselves and they believe in us and what we’re doing. What we’re doing is part of a bigger picture and it’s important for everybody that we as entrepreneurs are being successful”.

Leadership expert Robert Salvoni says he was encouraged by the 84% of business leaders wanting to grow and says he was able to deliver his presentation accordingly to help them take charge of the change:

“It’s like a tsunami, all the changes we’re seeing, whether at the macro level with Brexit, the economy, technology – you can’t control it. What you need to do is embrace it, project yourself forwards five years, think what shape your business will be. Think about the core product and the systems and processes which fit around that and how you can make those changes now before they’re imposed on you”.

Future Focus

Lara, who started her hotel amenities business at 23 and later sold it for £20 million, says it was a real privilege to be invited to the Future Focus event and says her message to delegates, was to be resilient and persistent:

“It’s ridiculously hard but the power of focus is the dividing line between good businesses and great businesses – businesses that have a sheer determination to achieve a world class service, world class people, a world class relentless, persistence and a world class plan. It’s a desire to be the best you can be in your field”.

Anyone who is interested in attending the next event, planned for September, should sign up to the Unlocking Potential newsletter for updates.

And finally, here is a run-down of some of the other statistics from our live polling on the day:

  • More than half of the audience were a CEO, MD or Founder of a business.
  • The most popular words to describe themselves were hands-on, reliable and passionate.
  • More than 40% of our delegate businesses employ 1-2 people but several have 100+ staff.
  • The biggest barriers to achieving their ambitions were access to finance, lack of strategy and the skills of key staff.
  • A huge 55% say innovation is so crucial they incorporate it into everything but 13% admit it’s something they want to look at more but don’t have the time, budget or resource.
  • Oh and two thirds prefer their cream tea with clotted cream on top 

Unlocking Potential Team Treacle Moments

What a fantastic week we’ve had here at Unlocking Potential. If you haven’t heard already, we hosted our second Future Focus event with keynote speakers Lara Morgan and Robert Salvoni. 150 delegates were lucky enough to attend and be inspired, challenged and stirred into action.

A stand-out moment for us was hearing the ingeniously creative and dare-we-say audacious way Lara broke down barriers when it came to trying to speak to those crucial people who aren’t responding to your approaches. She sent an unsuspecting target client a jar of treacle and told him, “getting in touch with you is like wading through this stuff.” It worked and they called straight away.

So we started to dig around the Unlocking Potential team for stories of similar, creative approaches to business problems! Here are our #treaclemoments:

Lucy Cox, Business Development Manager (and Co-founder of Halto – a pressure fix for halter neck swimwear)

When developing Halto, we kept hitting brick walls trying to convince male gatekeepers that the ‘halter ache’ was a thing, and that there was a need for a product like Halto. To overcome this, we stitched together a few sets of weighted bikinis with sandbags demonstrating the average weight of a pair of 34DDs. Every man that we spoke to about the business from that moment on had to wear the bikinis for the first ten minutes of every meeting. (We also took pictures to include with the NDAs that they signed for extra insurance!) Needless to say, the ‘need’ for Halto was then far more broadly accepted!

Jeremy Hurst, Future Focus Programme Manager

I really wanted to meet the head of marketing for a major London agency who I thought would benefit from outsourcing some of their work.  After an unbelievable number of unsuccessful attempts to contact this person, I found out when his birthday was and sent him a letter to his home address enclosing two flight tickets from London to Newquay and accommodation for two in a hotel.  I included a one hour spa treatment session for his wife, and invited him to listen to my pitch while she was being pampered.  The total cost for me was around £1000 but he was so impressed that the agency outsourced work to me for several years.

Another example of this was when I hired the Poly in Falmouth and screened Casablanca, sending two tickets to about 30 key clients with the instruction that they had to dress for the occasion.  I had a themed buffet and a prize draw with prizes relating to the film such as original film cells, a signed copy of the script, signed film posters, a copy of the DVD, etc. and randomly drew seat numbers out of a hat for the winners making sure that some of the prizes went to random people and some went to clients I wanted to win more business from.  I also involved the local Film Studies lecturer at Falmouth University to introduce the film.  This won us several new business contracts and the word of mouth PR from this lasted for well over a year.

Jodie Hyatt, Marketing Executive

A few years ago, before video applications were so common, there was a job advertised as the “Best Job in the World” working as a “caretaker” and blogger for Hamilton Island in Australia. You had to submit a one minute video to demonstrate why you should get the job. In the middle of winter, I did my sales pitch whilst undressing (down to swimmers) on Fistral Beach and running into the sea. I added lots of shots demonstrating my love of adventure and travel. I didn’t get the job but fast forward a few years when I was applying to join the Unlocking Potential Team, I slipped the video into my application. Our Head of Talent, Nicky Luke, tells me it was this which helped me to stand out and for them to understand more about how I might fit into the team. So, it worked. Eventually.

Andy Peters, Business Development Manager Team Leader

I picked a new client up from the station with Roxy music on the stereo due to seeing they were massive fans on my space account!

Tell us, what are your favourite #treaclemoments – you can tweet us @UP_Cornwall or post on our Facebook page


Recruitment Challenges & How We Can Help

Unlocking Potential JobsHow do you find time to recruit and train a new person? The simple answer is by planning ahead. Be realistic about the time it will take to find the right talent as well as the time you need to invest to get the new team member up to speed with the company’s working structures.

Employing someone new can take up to eight to twelve weeks.

One way to speed up the process of recruitment is by clarifying why someone would want to work for you.

Define your core hooks and communicate them well in your job description.

Unlocking Potential Jobs

If you decide to take on a new team member, Unlocking Potential Jobs is here to help. You can advertise for free on the website, and reach thousands of job seekers looking for roles in Cornwall. The standard package is free, and there is a range of affordable enhanced options to help you find the types of talented people you need to really develop and grow. For more details, please visit our website.

Unlocking Potential Jobs
For businesses receiving support from one of our ERDF funded programmes, we can offer additional support through the entire process and potentially salary investment. To find out more about the support available, contact us.

What are Future Focus Labs?

Following the event, we have selected a group of business leaders who have identified similar challenges and invited them to take part in a series of Future Focus Labs. But what are Labs?

Here is Andrew Holland from Spiral Construction and Holly Carberry from Anevay who can talk you through what they got from taking part in a recent Future Focus Lab.

The Labs are designed to help business leaders find energy and strength to innovate for long-term success. Over a number of sessions, they will make beneficial connections and be exposed to practical tools, expert facilitators and fresh thinking to develop and implement an innovation plan for their business.

What’s this month’s Lab all about?

In the afternoon, and continuing for a second and third session, our speakers Lara Morgan and Robert Salvoni will each head up a Lab designed around the business’ needs. The business leaders will also have access highly experienced facilitators and be part of a business leader peer-group.

If you are interested in being part of the Lab, get in touch – the sessions are organised by invitation only and run separately to the event in the morning.

Future Focus Programme

Hotel Toiletries Entrepreneur to Inspire Cornish Business Leaders to Innovate

An entrepreneur who started her hotel amenities business at 23 and later sold it for £20million is now focussing on helping business owners and directors in Cornwall to prepare for the future. Pacific Direct Founder Lara Morgan is also a three-times finalist of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Finalist. She, alongside local business champion Robert Salvoni, has been announced as a Keynote Speaker at the next Future Focus Event which is being held on May 9th at the Eden Project.

Launched in January by Unlocking Potential, Future Focus is a brand new programme including inspirational speaker events, designed to help Cornish business leaders rise to the challenges and opportunities of future growth. Delivered in partnership with the University of Exeter, the £4.7 million programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and aims to give Cornish businesses tools, resources and collaborative networks designed to help them break boundaries, innovate and grow.

Lara says she’s excited to work with innovative Cornish businesses

I love working with those companies that really have a desire to put ambition to grow, to sell more and to target the right game-changing customers at the forefront of their agenda. Living in the South West and having experienced some of the world-class expertise from designers and product innovators but also appreciating the challenges of Cornish location, I’m keen to communicate the enormous value and opportunity that exists for companies willing to adventure and enterprise.

Keynote Lara will be joined by an expert panel including local businessman and leadership expert Robert Salvoni. Robert acts as a Non-Executive Director for a number of Cornwall’s fastest growing businesses including Bluefruit Software, Swoop Labs and The PLUSS Organisation.

The event will focus on business evolution, exploring the opportunities for change and innovation as well as leadership style, creating high-performance teams and an effective business strategy. Future Focus Programme Manager Jane White says delegates will leave with a renewed purpose and inspirational ideas to reinvigorate their business:

We’re very fortunate to be welcoming both Lara and Robert to talk at our next Future Focus event. It’s a great chance for Cornish business leaders who have a desire to accelerate, adapt and evolve, to take some time, to be inspired and to consider a range of challenges and opportunities.

One of our main aims is for delegates to leave knowing more about themselves as a leader and how to build a high performing team around them as well as a real clarity about the resources they need in order to evolve and achieve outstanding results.

The event is fully-funded for ERDF-eligible businesses but those wishing to attend can book their tickets here.

Keynote speakers announced: Lara Morgan and Robert Salvoni



The speakers for the next Future Focus Event have been announced. Get ready for an inspiring morning with world-renowned entrepreneur and innovator Lara Morgan and local business champion Robert Salvoni.


Lara Morgan

Lara Morgan founded Pacific Direct in 1991 at the age of 23 and later sold the business for £20 million. She now heads up a number of consumer services businesses and is an inspirational leader with a legacy of building world-class teams and aligning organisation behind a clear strategy. Customer insight, brand development, multichannel and multisite management, luxury brand licensing, marketing, retail, manufacturing – she’s done it. With huge success. And she’s still on her entrepreneurial journey, building her two latest businesses, Global Amenities Direct and Scentered as well as investing in brands such as Dryrobe, Gate8 and KitBrix.

She’s not done it all without getting herself noticed of course – she’s a three-times finalist of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Lara was also a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award before winning Cranfield University’s Entrepreneur Alumna Award.

Robert Salvoni

Robert Salvoni is Non-Executive Director or Chairman of a number of fast-growing local businesses, where he has translated his leadership experience of launching, growing and transforming organisations into coaching and supporting others in Cornwall to do the same.

Robert spent his formative business years in Telecoms, before completing his MBA and going on to run Private Equity backed SMEs, delivering strategic transformation and strong growth alongside high employee and customer engagement.

He’s currently a proud board member of some of our County’s shining lights – Bluefruit Software, Swoop Labs, The PLUSS Organisation and he chairs WhatCornwallThinks and Core Technology Systems.

Interested in coming along? BOOK TICKETS HERE

James Neale’s Take on Future Focus

From one Business Leader to another: “Don’t miss out on a Future Focus Event!”

If you didn’t know already, our next Future Focus event is in the diary and our priority list is almost full but live for a little longer to register your interest. Make sure you keep 9th May free for a morning of inspiration and opportunity at the Eden Project.

Our keynote speaker will be announced soon but in the meantime, why don’t you find out the impact attending an event like this can have on you and your business? James Neale is Creative Director at Idenna a full service creative agency with a growing team of 14 and a huge portfolio of fantastic clients and happy customers. They specialise in story-telling and inspiration but James is still a keen advocate of getting out of the office to find new ways of thinking and making connections.

He attended our inaugural event in January as well as many of our business leader events which were the forerunner to Future Focus. Here he talks about the buzz which is still buzzing more than a year later and why he can’t wait for the next event.


Strong New Leaders Head Up £4.7million ERDF Programme

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Jane White and Jeremy Hurst to head up Future Focus, their brand new programme designed to help Cornish business leaders rise to the challenges and opportunities of future growth. Delivered in partnership with the University of Exeter, the £4.7 million programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will arm Cornish businesses with the tools, resources and collaborative networks to break boundaries, innovate and prosper.

Future FocusJane is working in collaboration with Jeremy as Team Lead to deliver the Future Focus programme. With a strong background in organisational development, Jane is passionate about working with SMEs to develop effective change management strategies. A graduate of Sauder School of Business and the University of Waterloo, she is an experienced leadership coach who enjoys building coaching cultures. Prior to returning to Cornwall in 2014 as Head of People Development at Cornwall College, Jane spent many years in Canada in senior HR roles of several well-known brands.

Jeremy is a Chartered Marketer and has a significant entrepreneurial track record founding a number of SMEs in fields as diverse as digital marketing, business coaching, and wearable technology. After a military career, Jeremy returned to Cornwall in 2000, successfully translating his experience into a private sector career. Amongst other industry awards, in 2012 Jeremy won the United Nations Pioneer Award for Strategic Corporate Philanthropy, and more recently his wearable technology business was a Runner Up in the Duke of York’s Pitch at the Palace 2016 competition, being described by the Duke of York as one of the most innovative companies in the UK today.

Jane and Jeremy say they’re excited to enable business leaders with the strength, knowledge and energy to grow and innovate:

Our programme will offer businesses transformative, pivotal knowledge combined with the tools and resources to apply that learning. It’s a powerful combination and we’re thrilled to help participants work towards ambitious objectives with expert facilitators, peer-to-peer insights and inspirational speakers.

Delivered over the next 3 years, Future Focus builds on Unlocking Potential’s highly successful Connect Events which previously welcomed over 3000 Cornish business leaders on a range of topics and will continue to bring world-class speakers to Cornwall for inspirational events.

The next Future Focus event is on May 9th at the Eden Project with more details and booking information coming soon. To register your interest please our Expression of Interest page or call 0845 600 3660.

Meet Nick Pearson – The Job Match-Maker

Have you ever wondered what the secret is to finding the best employees for your business? How do you know enough people will see your ad? What’s the best way of describing who you need? Have you got the salary right? Never mind making those tough decisions on who to hire.

Ask no further as we’re shining a spotlight on our recruitment services with our very own Nick Pearson. As one of our Recruitment Executives, he talks to hundreds of job seekers and expanding businesses and here he tells us all about matching the right careers with the right people.

Nicholas PearsonNick, tell us what your job involves.

I work in the recruitment team, supporting growing businesses to find the perfect candidate for their role, and reaching talented people who are looking to make the next step in their career.

We have some great companies in Cornwall so my role is about helping them compete on a national level by bringing their job adverts to life.

What’s the secret to successful recruitment?

The adverts that do best are the ones that keep it simple. Adverts that describe the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and give a flavour of the company culture and working environment get the best response. Whereas adverts that hide behind an exhaustive list of very specific essential criteria risk putting off perfectly suitable candidates and end up with fewer applicants to choose from.

Candidates want to know about the people they will be working with and what the environment is like. Candidates often approach job hunting with a lack of confidence, so they have to really want a role to put in the effort to apply. Long lists of requirements can scare good candidates away. The secret is to know the market and whether quantity or quality is more important for an individual role.

What do recruiters enjoy most about the Unlocking Potential Jobs website?

We completely overhauled our jobs board last year and rebuilt it from the ground up to incorporate the features our clients were asking for. We are now proud to offer a free to use platform offering a host of services that other job boards charge a premium for. Our new platform can host pictures and images which all help candidates get an insight into where and who they would be working for.

Clients who work closely with us benefit from a portfolio of services to make their recruitment a success. This includes the ability to reach our database of registered candidates through automated alerts, featured listings in our weekly jobs bulletin and social media.

The things we hear most from satisfied clients is the ease of use of the site and the quality of the candidates, Unlocking Potential Jobs is fast becoming the go-to place for professional roles in Cornwall and we are working hard to secure that reputation.

Do you deal with many varied clients?

Something I find really rewarding is the feedback from people when they first visit the Unlocking Potential Jobs website. People are really surprised by the variety of really exciting opportunities there are with interesting and innovative companies in Cornwall. I love the weeks when there is a really broad variety of jobs on the site, this means that almost any job seeker will be able to find something worth a further look, which is my goal.

There is a huge range of clients that we work with, in the last few weeks we have advertised roles for illustrators, CAD technicians, software testers, interior designers, administrators, copywriters and quantity surveyors. These roles come from businesses selling everything from cider to tractors and designing anything from maps, to shipping container conversions.

The most important thing when working with such a variety of clients is working to understand their different needs and publicising their vacancies in the best way, on their own terms. That’s the strategy that has seen us successfully recruit everything from geologists to cheesemakers.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

The best part of my job is being able to foster the connections to help a candidate and a business who are perfect for each other, find each other.

I also really enjoy working with job seekers, whether that is on a one-to-one basis to improve their employability or by hosting an employer’s event for students, job seekers, entrepreneurs and employers to network.

Can you give us an example how Unlocking Potential Jobs found the right candidate for a business?

A business we work with was looking to recruit a customer service agent; they are a company with a very individual company culture with lots of little perks to get the best out of their employees; they offer flexible working hours, they have an espresso machine and engage in the occasional nerf gun war in the office. They needed someone who could fit in to their unique working environment and with the meticulous approach to give their customers the best experience. We worked with the business to produce a video alongside their job advert, documenting a day in the life of the role.

When it came time to shortlist candidates, upon further inspection, one strong applicant had included ‘trainee Nerf gun ninja’ buried among their hobbies and interests. This small addition showed the company that the person was passionate enough about the role to do their research, had the attention to detail that would be essential to the job and shared a sense of humour which would be vital to fit in with the team. In addition to their experience, this small detail signalled to the employer that the candidate should be taken through to the next stage of recruitment. This goes to the heart of what we do, helping businesses find great talent and supporting candidates to land their dream jobs.

Unlocking Potential Jobs

Skype Face Off – What would you have done?

In the digital age, we are flooded with videos that go viral and most of them stay in our memory for a day or two. However, this has not been the case of Professor Robert Kelly’s skype session with the BBC world news service.

During his skype interview, he was interrupted by his little children. The video of him trying to remain professional has won over the internet in a heartbeat. It has made us laugh in the office but also made us admit to our own cringe-worthy Skype moments.

Skype Face Off

Here are a few brave souls from the Unlocking Potential team who are revealing their skype face off moments.

I had such an incidence – on a conference call (luckily voice only!). My boss was in the Isles of Scilly, the client in Cornwall, one of the partner agencies was based in the US. I was the PM and this was an urgent call at the last minute – and I had my 10-month-old on my lap at the time so I had to keep putting the call on mute when he was making a noise. All my contributions were very short and to the point.

It was sooooo stressful!!

Working from home is great but can have its disadvantages when you also have pets and you want to come over as a professional business person. There have been rather too many occasions when I have been on a teleconference or Skype meeting where my dogs have decided that the person who has just walked past our drive is definitely a potential burglar and created a cacophony of barking so much that I can’t hear what people are saying and they can’t hear me even with two doors closed in between me and the dogs ! I have also learnt the hard way not to let them anywhere near my office when a webcam is involved as dogs chewing their ‘private bits’ or throwing up their breakfast doesn’t make for pleasant viewing…….So now I shut the curtains so they can’t see anyone to bark at and close all doors between me and them so no one can hear or see them!

Most of my business skype sessions are slotted in when the kids are napping. I have had many occasions when I had to tell the other person we have to wrap up because it was getting close to waking up time. Having said that, my children don’t tend to stick to my well thought through plans. Last week, I had a skype session with one of my clients from Sweden. Half way through, I had to tell him that I am taking the laptop upstairs so that I could get my tantrum driven 1 year old out of his cot. We then continued our business meeting while I kept my son busy playing with his matchbox cars.



Future Focus Podcast – Future Trends & Disrupting the Market

In January, we announced the launch of our new ERDF funded programme – Future Focus. Over 120 Cornish businesses attended the launch event which was hosted by Unlocking Potential Programme Director Allyson Glover and featured keynote speaker James Alexander.

The first Future Focus Event (formally Connect Events) outlined possible future trends and explored the importance of disrupting the market. During group discussions, the impact of data usage, as well as the necessity to include a human touch in your customer service was critically looked at.

In our first Unlocking Potential podcast, James Alexander talks about his highlights from the Future Focus Event and what he thinks Cornish businesses might have to do to continue to succeed in the marketplace.

Future Focus set to inspire business growth in Cornwall

Over 100 Cornish business owners and leaders converged on Wadebridge for the launch of Future Focus – a brand new programme designed to help Cornish businesses rise to the challenges and opportunities of future growth.

Launched by business Future Focussupport specialists Unlocking Potential, part of the Cornwall College Group, Future Focus is an inspiring and practical programme created for Cornwall-based businesses looking to develop and grow.

A £4.7 million programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Future Focus encourages and enables business leaders in Cornwall to connect and expand their businesses through three key elements:


– Inspirational speaker events
– Labs to promote fresh thinking on key business issues
– Access to resources enabling businesses to activate change to support long-term growth.

Delivered over the next 3 years, Future Focus builds on Unlocking Potential’s highly successful Connect Events which previously welcomed over Cornish 3000 business leaders on a range of topics.

Speaking at the launch was entrepreneur and business strategist James Alexander who was co-founder and Executive Director of Zopa – the world’s first and Europe’s largest peer to peer lender who took the audience through future business trends, looking at some of the key challenges and opportunities that could shape business in Cornwall in the future.

Unlocking Potential Programme Director Allyson Glover believes the blend of events, labs and access to practical business resources offered by Future Focus is unique in Cornwall’s business community.

“We’re thrilled to launch Future Focus which has been created to inspire, stimulate and enable innovative business growth here in Cornwall. Through the events, labs and resources, we have created a programme that is as effective for established businesses in the county looking for ways to develop and grow as it is for start-up business owners who are setting out on their journey. Future Focus is about creating environments for positive change and it was great to be able to launch the programme and to hear such positive feedback about the event itself and what we are offering,” said Allyson.

Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy commented. “The Future Focus programme is a really exciting development for Cornwall’s business community. It will help businesses of all shapes and sizes to develop innovative ways to grow. I am really pleased that this project builds on the business support work that took place under the Convergence Programme and continues to help grow the economy and create better-paid jobs for residents.”

Future Focus Event Jan 2017
Having attended the launch, Zoe Howard of Marketing and PR agency Caxton Communications said the launch event was the best she had been to in Cornwall over the last 2 years.

“Having launched Caxton Communications two years ago I attend quite a lot of business and networking events and can honestly say this was the best business event I have been to in that time. There were good people there, a really good speaker talking about an interesting topic and a really good vibe and energy in the room.

“I am now looking to grow my business and take it to the next level, so in terms of what Future Focus can offer to help support that, the launch is perfect timing,” said Zoe.

To find out more about Future Focus including registering for the next event which takes part in May visit or call 0845 600 3660.

January’s Connect Event speaker announced

On 31st January we are delighted to be hosting the first in a new series of inspirational events designed specifically for business people in Cornwall. During the morning we’ll be focusing on future business trends and taking lessons from disruptive innovators.

The event is taking place at the Pavilion Centre, Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge, from 9am – 1.30pm.  Book your place now.

James Alexander Connect EventOur keynote speaker, James Alexander, is an experienced entrepreneur and business growth strategist, who is currently a core team member of, the world’s largest open foresight programme. James was co-founder and Executive Director of Zopa, the world’s first and Europe’s largest P2P lender, and prior to this, Strategy Director at Egg.

Delegates will hear James’ story of launching Zopa, as well as insights into how the world may be in 2025, using his pick of trends identified by Future Agenda. James will help you explore how these insights and trends can be used to support business growth and be prepared for 2025.

We will also be launching a new ERDF-funded support programme for Cornish businesses who want make changes and seize new opportunities, and telling you how you can get involved.

Packed with inspiration, insights and practical tools you can use to grow your business, the event will also give you plenty of opportunities to make new connections. Book your place now.


This event is part of a programme funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

About James Alexander

James is an entrepreneur, business growth strategist and Director at Future Agenda. He was co-founder of Zopa, and his CV includes: Strategy Director Egg; Partner at The Foundation (clients include Save the Children, JustGiving, Tesco, Eurostar, M&S, HSBC); Trustee Suffolk Wildlife Trust, ex-Trustee RSPB; and Advisor / chair to Fintech leaders (Seedrs, Tandem, Loot, Gen Community Ventures, LandBay, Spacehive).

More about

Future Agenda is the world’s leading open foresight programme. Throughout 2015 (and some of 2016) workshops held around the world brought together experts to discuss different perspectives on how the world will be by 2025. In total 120 events were held in 45 cities and in 35 different countries involving over 5,000 topic experts – exploring 24 topics. As with the previous project in 2010, the aim was to build a rich, multi-regional and cross-sectorial view of the next decade embracing a range of different topics and providing a shared view for all to use so they can be more informed decisions about the future.

Priority List: Connect Events 2017

For more than 10 years, we’ve hosted numerous events. One of our favourites has always been our Connect Events which featured inspirational speakers, structured networking and challenging discussions.

We loved listening to the keynote speakers who talked about their own experiences and gave practical advice, leaving us with new ideas and a ‘can do’ attitude.

Connect Events

At the beginning of 2017, we will be hosting our first event which will launch a new service, details will follow soon. However, if you are interested in attending the event on the 31st January 2017 then add yourself to our priority list and be the first to know when tickets go live.

Cecil on Ice – The Journey So Far

We’ve been catching up with Adam Costantin, owner of Cecil On Ice, who is receiving support from the Breakthrough team as he sets up his new business. Adam sells ice cream and cocktails for weddings, parties and events all over Cornwall and beyond from a lovingly restored vintage van.

Adam attended the ERDF fully funded Breakthrough two-day Start-up Business Workshop in April and since then has been working with Business Development Manager Lucy Cox to refine his business plan. Recently Adam came into the Unlocking Potential office for a tasting and feedback session of his new vegan ice cream flavours – unsurprisingly he was inundated with volunteers from the team!

Here we chat to Adam and Lucy about his business journey so far on the Breakthrough programme:


A Start-Up Journey to Italy and Back

The team behind Mi Piace Gusto, Ryan Taylor and Massimo Bertusi, have recently started their business that imports and sells delicious Italian authentic artisan produce to the UK. Their business story started this year when their dream to move to Cornwall from London became a reality.

Previously both Massimo and Ryan had successful high-flying jobs in the Capital: Massimo worked in banking and Ryan worked in the high echelons of Government. Having got tired of their urban environment, they decided to follow their dream and set up on their own.

Mi Piace GustoMassimo is able to source the best of Italian cured meats, cheeses and other delicious authentic produce using his family contacts in Italy who have been in the food industry for many years. The partners knew they had a great idea but they both wanted to explore their business further before they took the plunge and invested too much.

They started their Breakthrough business journey with us six months ago at one of the two-day workshops. Keen to progress and grow their business from dream to reality, they continued their support with the Breakthrough programme and attended a further six follow-on workshops, which covered everything from marketing to finance.

With all the support the workshops have given the pair, along with the one-to -one expert coaching with their Business Development Manager, Carolyn Inger, they have found it possible to start selling their fantastic products to the public. Lucky us!

Whilst Mi Piace Gusto are specialising in importing and selling Italian food to local businesses, their new Brand ‘Ain’t Your Mama – Cucina  Italiana is selling directly to the public. This Christmas they have wonderful hampers packed full of delicious authentic Italian produce and a new and exciting pop-up in Falmouth has also emerged this December on the tip of Custom House Quay, take a look next time you there…..authentic, delicious Italian food awaits!

From early 2017 their produce will also be distributed to catering outlets, hotels, and independent food retailers.

It is an absolute pleasure to work with Massimo and Ryan, and to help them grow their business. Together we have taken every opportunity to develop their business, resulting in a range of ways in which they will sell their fantastic food to the restaurant and retail sectors as well as directly to the public. I feel privileged and lucky to work with them both and they make me feel a real part of their growing business… plus a big bonus is that they let me sample their delicious food !” Carolyn Inger – Business Development Manager

We recently went to catch up with them at their pop-up stall in the Fude Dude on Custom House Quay in Falmouth and asked them how their start-up journey has progressed.

Ryan and Massimo will be on Custom House Quay in the Fude Dude over the festive period selling their delicious Italian street food. For Christmas, they have three special hampers available to buy. Visit their Facebook page for more.

If you are thinking about starting a business or are running a business for less than 12 months, why not get in touch and talk to us about your idea. The next two day ERDF fully funded Breakthrough workshop will take place at the Pool Innovation Centre on the 2nd and 3rd February 2017.

Breakthrough Cornwall   Transform

Hub Awards – A Celebration Of Success

The annual Hub awards, celebrating Cornwall’s brilliant businesses and business people, took place last week and we were delighted to be part of this amazing night!

The Hub

A fantastic evening was held at the Penventon Hotel in Redruth with members of the Unlocking Potential team attending.

Our congratulations go out to Rebecca Jinks of Coastline Housing who won the Employee of the Year, an award we were honoured to sponsor. The award for Best use of Digital went to Crowdfunder success story, Halto, which is co-founded by Unlocking Potential’s very own Business Development Manager, Lucy Cox. Well done Lucy!

Allyson Glover, Programme Director here at Unlocking Potential, also took to the stage at the event to interview renowned Cornish bread maker – Baker Tom – who started his business a few years ago with just four loaves of bread and has seen it grow significantly since. He talked about his incredible business journey so far and gave a very honest insight into the highs and lows of growing a business.

Ally and Tom Hub Awards Hub Awards
“The Hub Awards are a major event in Cornwall’s business calendar and we were delighted to not only sponsor the Employee of the Year Award but also speak to Tom about his own business journey. It was a fantastic evening and a real showcase of the business talent right here in Cornwall,” said Ally.

Spoilt For Choice At Radix Communication

Radix CommunicationFast–growing copywriting agency Radix Communication specialises in writing tailor-made content for global tech brands including Amazon, Dell, Fujitsu, Oracle and Xerox.

Their success in creating engaging content has seen demand for Radix’s services grow significantly. The Penryn-based company has been working with both Oxford Innovation and Unlocking Potential on the new Transform business development programme, which is helping them to grow and recruit new talent into the business.

With their growth only limited by their capacity to service an ever-increasing list of high-value and iconic clients, the Radix team is growing with help from Unlocking Potential Business Development Manager Becky Isaacs.

Working closely with Alan Street of Oxford Innovation, Becky has been helping Radix find and recruit talented copywriters to join their team.

Following a meeting with Fiona Campbell-Howes, the Managing Director of Radix Communication, to understand what makes the business ‘tick’, two vacancies were advertised by Unlocking Potential – a Copywriter and Junior Copywriter.

There was a great response to the vacancies with some extremely strong candidates. Following some really successful interviews three job offers were made. Now two Copywriters (Nick and Ben) and one Junior Copywriter (Katy) are helping Radix to grow and take on new clients.

Radix is also benefitting from continued coaching support from Oxford Innovation, and one to one mentoring from Becky with each of the new recruits. The support doesn’t end here though as there is also some specialist mentoring for the team in the pipeline for 2017. An exciting year ahead!

Video Sparks Recruitment Success For Firetext

Ever found yourself looking through a job description again and again but you still don’t actually know what the job is?

The Jobs team at Unlocking Potential have spent many years perfecting the art of bringing a job description to life. This year we broke new territory when our recruitment expert, Nicholas Pearson used his video production skills to create a new breed of video job descriptions. The short films are designed to give applicants behind the scenes access, where they get  to meet the boss, the team and find out face-to-face who they might be working with.

Earlier this year, Dan Parker from FireText approached the Jobs team to see if we could help him find the right person for a new role he was creating. He wanted someone with a specific skill set, who could gel in their small team and company culture. FireText pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service and it is one of the main things that differentiate them from their competitors, so they were looking for someone who could join the team and embody their values.

Nick and the Jobs team worked with FireText to find the right person, this started with the job title – they agreed ‘Customer Relationship Guru’ would fit just right, being straightforward and user-friendly and a little bit playful – just like FireText.

Following the video, which featured Dan and the team firing Nerf guns to shoot down Lego figures they were pleased to note a couple of candidates referenced an interest in Lego under ‘hobbies’ in their CV or referred to themselves as “Nerfwar enthusiasts”. This demonstrated the humour and attention to detail that they were looking for in someone in the role, showing they could fit in with the team.

The new recruit is settling into their new role, no word yet on whether he has stepped up to the plate and challenged his new colleagues to a Nerf battle, though!

Brighter Cornwall Wraps Up

After a fun packed 3 years, the Brighter Cornwall programme is about to come to an end.

The programme was developed as a pilot project between Cornwall Council and Unlocking Potential as a way to attract graduates back to, or enable them to stay in Cornwall after graduation.

Through the programme over 35 Cornish Undergraduates have undertaken paid internships, and over 200 have taken part in our networking events.

Undergraduates such as Kate Eddy who did a placement with Eleanor Bell Lighting Design and Polly Bolitho who worked with Oh So Social have grasped the opportunity to gain experience and make business connections here in Cornwall.

In turn Cornish business owners such as Eleanor Bell have benefited from the enthusiasm, specialist skills and fresh ideas that they have brought with them.

Christmas Gift Ideas

One of the perks of supporting so many different businesses is that we discover some true local gems. Instead of keeping them to ourselves, here are some amazing Cornish businesses who have worked with Unlocking Potential in the past.

If you fancy any of the special Christmas offers listed below, please get in touch with the businesses directly. At the same time, if you would like to be featured and have worked with Unlocking Potential in the past, send us an email with your events, services or products as well as your contact details.

Glam Up for Christmas

Silly Old Sea Dog

Alison from Silly Old Sea Dog makes beautiful women clothing for all shapes and sizes. She loves vintage clothing, especially the silhouettes of the 1950s and these shapes can be seen throughout her collection, the glamour, femininity and tailoring of this era is an inspiration in itself.

Her dresses are all designed by her and then made up in a factory in Scotland. They stock UK sizes 6-24 for worldwide shipping as well as a range of handmade accessories.

In time for the Christmas season, Alison has designed some amazing festive dresses and accessories who will make you stand out from the Christmas party crowd which you can view here:

Silly Old Sea Dog Silly Old Sea Dog

Discovering Cornwall


Explorify is an online voucher shop and area guide which helps people discover new places and things to do in Cornwall. The website has lots of Cornwall vouchers and special offers from some of the regions best businesses. From great restaurants to water sports activities, family attractions and luxury spa days, Explorify has something for everyone. Visit our Cornwall voucher shop and discover something new near you!

Local Business? Featuring your business on Explorify is a great way to attract more customers. Click here to find out more.

December Craft

Print and Design

Throughout December, Print and Design will be hosting a print and design shop in Howl Space with work from local and national artists. Workshops run every Saturday. Howl Space and Old Bank Studios will be your one-stop relaxing Xmas shopping stop.

Events within an event:

Saturday 10th December- Cyanotype workshop with Stuart Robinson. Drop in from 11am. £5

Saturday 10th December- Indian head massage sessions from Claire Bear. Pre-booking advised. 11am-3pm £15

Saturday 17th December- Marbling workshop with Dan O’Brien. Drop in from 11am. £3 a card

Saturday 24th December- last minute panic workshop with Camilla Stacey. Drop in from 11am.

Picture Perfect

Haward & Jones Photography

Haward & JonesHaward & Jones Photography are shortly going to be launching their new website and are business caters for all photographic needs, whether this is:

Aerial Photography, Flowers, Mountains, Motorsport, Nautical, Rivers, Underwater, Weddings or Wildlife.

There is no limit to the services they are prepared to provide for their customers. Those of you who may have enquiries, you can reach Harry Haward on or call 07879 478 120.

Spreading The Spirit Of Christmas

The Chaos Group

Chaos has been set up as a Community Interest company – a recent legal entity which allows them to carry out all their good works but also make money from it to re-invest; a classic social enterprise – socially driven with largely charitable aims but financially astute and commercially aware.

They work with vulnerable people, delivering employability skills, engaging them in meaningful activities and supporting them to access employment in their communities.

CHAOS encourages people young and old to get the skills they need for a better future. Facilitated by professionals practised in engaging with marginalised groups and disadvantaged individuals who have additional complex health needs.

Over the Christmas season, the Chaos group is running a few events that might be of interest to you. Details you can find on the flyers below or visit their Facebook page.

The Chaos Group         The Chaos Group

Counting Down The Days

Two Wolves Creative Design

CalendarThere has never been more of a demand for honest, sustainable and socially conscious products and services and Two Wolves Creative Design wants to help get you out there.

Even though it is not Christmas themed, they have recently printed their very own calendar for 2017 – a collection of their favourite images from throughout the year. Something to mark the end of their first year/the year that they took the plunge.

It’s a great little gift for anyone who loves Cornwall and for any start-ups that don’t have a calendar for their new office space yet.

They are also offering a small percentage off to businesses associated with the Unlocking Potential and the Breakthrough programme. For more details, please visit their shop or contact Harrison Webb directly.

Gluten & Dairy Free Festive Treats

GD Delights

GD DelightsDon’t miss out this Christmas! Let GD Delights bake a sweet Gluten and Dairy Free Festive Treat just for you!

GD Delights is a bakery that specialises in crafting gluten-free & dairy-free produce. They have a genuine understanding of how allergies can affect one’s diet and they pride themselves on creating safe, nutritious and tasty baked goods that cater to everyone’s taste and needs.

GD Delights create homemade gluten-free & dairy-free cakes and post them straight to your doorstep at your convenience.

They have a range of cakes and biscuits available, including Chocolat Brownies, Carrot Cake, Victoria Buns and Festive Specials meaning you don’t need to miss out this Christmas!

To find out more visit our Facebook Page or call Nicola on 07935 558325

Contemporary Textile Designs

Helen Round

With a background in fine art textiles and printmaking, Helen works from her studios perched at the top of her Cornish garden, amidst plants and flowers bursting with colour. From here, she has fabulous views across fields and down to the water. This view provides endless inspiration and inspires sketches and drawing for her collections.

On her website, you can find some great Christmas treats including lampshades, bags, cushions and much more.

Keeping Your Warm This Christmas

Cornish Masonry Stoves

The family run business Cornish Masonry Stoves have had an amazing year installing versatile and contemporary looking log burner all over the country.

All log burners are handcrafted in the UK using locally sourced Cornish porcelain doubling the efficiency of most log burners and more than three times the efficiency of an open fire. For more details on Cornish Masonry Stoves, visit their website.

Surfing Must Have

North Coast Wetsuits

Carry Bag & Changing Wet SuitIf you are in need for a present for a loved who loves to hit the waves, North Coast Wetsuits have the ideal gift for you: wetsuit wet and dry carry bag and changing mat – one of their best sellers.

Carry you suit and gear, unzip the bag and change on the ‘mat’, keep your clean dry clothes in the bag, go surfing and get changed back on the mat, keeping your wetsuit and gear clean of sand and mud! Zip it up wet, throw it in the car without it dripping all over the place and wash out your gear when you get home.

The bags are nice and large but also easy to carry, unlike some mat/bags. There is plenty of room for a winter suit and boots, gloves, boots, rash vest, towel and more. For more details, visit the website.

Number Crunching

Jane’s Bookkeeping Service

Jane Gilbert from Jane’s Bookkeeping Services is sending a gentle reminder to every self-employed person that 31 January 2017 is looming and if you need your accounts got ready, she is the person to do it.  Her rates very reasonable and she could stop you paying tax. For more details, contact her via

Christmas Displays

Julia Kerrison

www.juliakerrison.comJulia Kerrison is an artist and illustrator living in West Cornwall whose work has been exhibited and sold all over the world. She trained initially in the theatre, focusing on scenic art, puppetry and mask making before moving into fine art and illustration.  She was the house artist for Trapdoor Theatre Company from 2000 – 2004 and has spent time in the props department of the Royal Opera House and crafting puppets and masks for NYC’s Stagedoor Manor Theatre Training Camp and several international circus companies.

Julia paints predominantly in acrylics, layering colour finely to create beautifully lit images and covering a wide variety of subject matter.  She also works regularly for theatre and circus companies producing scenic art and props and is a Trustee for the Lafrowda Arts Festival. She leads workshops for schools and community groups in withy modelling and mural painting.

Julia has just completed one of the five Christmas shop windows in Penzance and some masks for a Christmas show with Incandescence Circus.  She is now working on Christmas painting commissions for people and is happy to take more!  Her website is if you want to have a look.

Spice Up Your Life

The Ginger Mexican

Dan Newsome travelled to Mexico for surfing trips from the age of 17. The whole experience was an education in vibrancy, colour and taste. The older guys who were mentoring Dan helped him to fish. It would start with a leap out of the hammock, as the fish were feeding. Most days they would have a ‘fish run’ whereby bigger fish would chase sardines and create a fifty meter square surge of prime fish. Our fishing rods were grabbed and the short run down to the sea took place. They would then compare who had caught the biggest or best fish and watch it cook over the fire. The ingredients didn’t stray very far from garlic, cumin, chilli pepper, tomato, lime, coriander salt and pepper. The Ginger Mexican was born!

Furniture Making


TinkebuJaime makes handcrafted wooden kid’s furniture and toys. All of his pieces are made in Cornwall from reclaimed and sustainably sourced materials. He is currently thinking about turning a hobby into a business and has decided that throwing it out there will help him to make a decision…

True to the name of the business, he has played around with woodworking in his spare time for a number of years and has recently made his first wooden kids furniture. This desire grew with the arrival of his first baby, and their reluctance to fill their house with garish plastic.

Jaime would love to receive some feedback on his items. Just follow his Facebook page and share your thoughts – positive or constructive!

Vintage Cocktail & Ice Cream Service

Cecil on Ice

Cecil on Ice is a vintage ice cream that serves ice cream and cocktails! They are in the midst of producing their own ice cream using the finest local ingredients. A vegan range using coconut as the base, as well as a totally unique alcoholic cocktail ice cream flavour range.

Cecil gets invited to all sorts of things, as long as there is a party to be had he will be there. they have so far attended, Summer fetes, Gin Festivals, 5oth birthday parties, School fetes, Music festivals and much more. If you fancy Cecil on Ice to attend your Christmas party, go have
a gander at the website and contact them from there.

Christmas Sparkle

Victoria Williams Jewellery

Victoria WilliamsVictoria enjoys drawing and making from a young age and during her degree in Contemporary Crafts, she found a passion for metal work, specialising in jewellery and silversmithing. She loves experimenting with different processes and using them to inform her designs. Victoria is also inspired by her surroundings, especially living in Cornwall, surrounded by beaches and beautiful gardens and countryside. She loves sitting in a quiet garden drawing the flowers or taking pictures of interesting forms, pattern or texture that she finds on her travels.

All of her work shown on her website is for sale, if you wish to buy anything or have any questions please contact her, commissions also welcome.

Being Kind To Your Skin

Spiezia Organics

Spiezia Organics grew from a need for skincare that nourishes your body both inside and out. Originally developed by Dr. Spiezia, who came from an orthodox medical background, the products have been developed by combining dermatological science with the strength and purity of botanicals. Since their conception, the formulations have evolved with dermatological research and that of the incredible power of nature.

From the beginning, every single product has been made by hand in Cornwall using herbs, flowers and oils from as close as quality will allow. We track the provenance of every ingredient that goes into our products so each balm, oil or ointment has its own life story. Spiezia Organics is a pure and clean way of life. We do not add any synthetic chemicals, including parabens and our products are the application of pure nature to the skin – no more, no less.

Festive Reflexology

Rebalance Organic Reflexology

RebalanceYou can buy festive gift vouchers for Rebalance organic reflexology treatments. Reflexology is the perfect gift for anyone who gets frazzled over the Xmas period and who could do with a pick-me-up and rebalance in the new year

With a fun festive design, they’re not only lovely to receive but they make a nice change from chocolate, socks and smellies too!

Vouchers can be for any number of sessions and are really easy to order – just drop Melanie a message at, or phone 07495 977447. You can pick them up from her, she can drop them round to you or Melanie can send you an e-voucher if you’d prefer?

And don’t forget to drop a subtle hint to your nearest and dearest if you’re the one who could most use a treatment in 2017!

Marketing Galore

Rame Marketing

Rame Marketing

Andrew Leon Walker of Rame Marketing provides hands-on marketing support, training and advice to SMEs. He’s a CIM qualified marketer and a graduate of Google’s Squared Online digital marketing programme.

He has just launched a new site to highlight the selection of marketing training courses available. In addition, you can retain Andrew as your Virtual Marketing Director where he’ll take care of your marketing activities on a part-time basis without the need for you to incur heavy recruitment costs.

His intention over the next few weeks is to build up a marketing resource hub and is in the process of adding 15 downloadable pdf marketing guides to his site along with written and curated blog posts from around the internet to help build your marketing knowledge. So make sure to visit and keep visiting.

Kick off 2017 with a bang and get in touch.

You can visit Andrew’s LinkedIn profile here

Organic Christmas Food

Cusgarne Organic Farm

If you ever have been to Cusgarne Organic Farm then you know that it is a little gem that has been one of the best-kept secrets for too long. The farm is run in the most environmentally friendly way possible with a brilliant team of staff and volunteers who are passionate about the environment, ethically produced food and green farming practises.

If you are looking to buy your Christmas turkey locally, then take a look at the Cusgarne Organic Farm website.

SeasoStephanie Croydonnal Greeting Cards & Stocking Fillers

Stephanie Croydon

Stephanie Croydon is an interdisciplinary artist working in Cornwall. She has a selection of seasonal greetings cards, individually wrapped and blank for you own message and small stocking fillers – hand painted cotton reels and landscape paintings on wood blocks on sale. They are all available from The Craft Collective shop, Redruth opposite merlin cinema.

Her work currently explores the landscape close to her home using melancholy, nostalgia, feelings and thoughts explored through places used as self-reflection and contemplation; ‘to make visual how the world touches us’ (Merleau-Ponty, 1993).

Items on sale are cotton reels £7, greetings cards £2.50 each and paintings £10 – £30 each.

Christmas Chocolate

Cornwall’s Chocolate Cove

Cornwall’s Chocolate Cove makes sumptuous, raw, deliciously naughty tasting, dairy free, soya free, lusciously organic, nutrient rich chocolates and from 1st December they will have the Facebook shop open to sell direct to customers – already currently selling in Scarlets Wine Shop and Restaurant in Hayle.

With December approaching, the team behind Cornwall’s Chocolate Cove have been experimenting and testing to ensure the new chocolates take you on a journey of warmth, unexplored adventure and fresh, new beginnings; as the Moroccan Rose treasure melts away leaving you with a soft warm glow. Or maybe reach for the Lemon Sorbet, full of zest, that brings a glint to the eye and makes diving into the sea in December seem like a brilliant idea, to then return all refreshed and warm to the cosiness of a large open fire, a glass of full-bodied red and the delicious pearl of Hazelnut, Rosemary & Nutmeg. For a product overview, visit the Facebook page.

Print Work, Christmas Cards, Sale Promotion & Website Design

TM Design

Tim Macknelly runs TM Design from his office in Helston. Tim has 16 years’ experience in print, websites and branding, with in-depth knowledge of development, UX design, HTML and CSS. He has worked with many CMS’s, WordPress and Joomla too, so he is pretty much an all-rounder.

If you are in need of some original Christmas designs, get in touch with TM Designs.

Christmas Hampers from Italy

Ain’t Your Mama – Cucina Italiana by Mi Piace Gusto

The team behind Mi Piace Gusto import Italian cuisine to the UK. For Christmas, there are three special hampers available to buy. They cost between £25 and £55. For more details, please visit their Facebook page.

Christmas Chill

Holistically Relaxed

Ann from Holistically Relaxed is a qualified massage therapist who offers appointments in  the Redruth area. Currently, Ann is offering special Christmas discounts. Contact her via her Facebook page to find out more.

Tickling Your Taste Buds

Wine Fox Tasting Academy

Lucy from Wine Fox Tasting Academy studied at Plumpton College Wine Centre towards the Wine, Spirit and Education Trust Diploma and graduated successfully earlier this year. She is just one of 8,500 people in the world to currently hold this international wine trade qualification and just one of a handful of fellow Diploma graduates here in Cornwall.

Lucy has set up Wine Fox Tasting Academy to share her wine and spirit knowledge by bringing fun, engaging and informative learning experiences in the form of private parties and future classes and events to Falmouth and South Cornwall. For more details, please visit her Facebook page.

Swimwear Fix


Halto is a discreet, squishy fix for bruising and rubbing caused by halter neck swimwear. If you, like millions of other fabulous women, suffer from neck pain and discomfort when wearing a halter neck bikini, then you will simply adore Halto.

For more details on Halto, visit the website.

Gift Subscription Service

Knickers By Post

Knickers By Post is an exciting gift service in the popular, and ever increasing subscription market. Choose for yourself, or as a gift, a beautiful pair of knickers and they will be sent, in gorgeous packaging, plus an extra little surprise. A discreet box will arrive through your door with your carefully selected pair of knickers.

The knickers are chosen for their quality, design, beauty and comfort from well-known and trusted brands. You can choose a one-off gift or several monthly options, along with details of size, colours and shapes of knickers you like, which can be adjusted as required for the next month.

Knickers by Post is launching their new website at the beginning of December in time for Christmas. For more details visit their Facebook page.

Go On Tour

Kernow Kampers

Kernow Kampers offer mini dub, motorhome and campervan hire throughout Cornwall, the South West and further afield. In their latest blog post, they shine the light on the best European Christmas Markets. If you would like to experience a Christmas Market for yourself and fancy doing this by going with a motorhome then get in touch with Kernow Kampers.

Bespoke Bling

Lucy Spink Jewellery

Lucy Spink JewelleryFrom her studio in Point Quay, Lucy makes unique handmade Jewellery using recycled precious metals to give her customers a timeless artisan product with an ethical heart. Lucy will be opening up her studio for an evening on Friday 25th and on Saturday 26th November with a range of jewellery for sale including some one-off pieces from her original collection. There will be discounted pieces and earrings from the collaboration Turner & Spink, too.

On top of her jewellery making, she is also a founding member of the Creek Arts & Crafts collective. From November 28th until December 3rd, the collective is hosting a Winter contemporary art & craft fair featuring works for sale including contemporary sculpture, jewellery, silverware, ceramics, collage and printmaking.

Sublime Accessories

Roamer Rose

Roamer Rose makes handcrafted, bespoke head and body fashion accessories for both ladies and gentlemen. Each piece is unique and carefully handmade using a majority of ethically sourced and recycled materials. Roamer Rose will be at the Falmouth hotel Christmas Fayre on the 4th December. They will be exhibiting both ladies and gents original accessories which will all be personally boxed and wrapped, ready to put under the tree….

Fine Fabrics

Rosie Loves Bruce

Rosie Loves BruceRosie loves Bruce is a small business based in Cornwall specialising in fine fabrics & period pieces, handmade & restored with love for you and your dog. One of the main items that Rosie Loves Bruce sell  are their strong, classic stools which are inspired by their very own smooth and rough-haired dachshunds Rosie and Bruce.

They have just launched their very own Christmas card staying true to their original and well-loved design. Prices range between £2.50 each or 3 for £5.00. For more details, visit the Facebook page.

Fairy Tales & Sword Fighting

Swashbuckling Cornwall

Swashbuckling Cornwall offers a range of swashbuckling, stage combat and other workshops for professionals, amateurs and the those who just want to give them a try. Taught by professionals these workshops will give you a chance to learn some classic moves from the movies as well as develop an understanding of choreography, safety and dramatic fighting.

Henry from Swashbuckling Cornwall is also involved in the touring fairy tale show Tales of Ice and Snow. They are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to ensure that all emerging practitioners involved get the training and development they need.



Feritech – An Inspirational Start-Up Story

Cornwall is becoming a haven for truly innovative high-tech, high growth businesses that are developing products and services that are in increasing demand around the World.

In an increasingly global market place, companies and entrepreneurs here in Cornwall are doing business around the world by opening up new markets.

We meet Rob and Gemma Ferris – the husband and wife team and owners of marine engineering company Feritech, who launched the company after moving to Cornwall from the South East.


Do you think you are natural entrepreneurs?

Rob is definitely a natural entrepreneur, he always has his note pad with him and scribbling his ideas down. Then together we figure out which ideas to pursue and how to go about it.

Tell us a bit about your business concept and how you might evolve it?

Feritech is a harsh environment engineering and technology company, based in Falmouth. We design and manufacture equipment for use in the offshore geotechnical market.

Our team is made up of people with extensive knowledge of the industry, from subsea engineers to CAD designers.

Working with global clients across all marine engineering sectors, we design, manufacture and retail products and systems, as well as providing a consultancy service, project support and data collection and analysis services.

Due to the historically low oil prices we are seeing greater value in renting our equipment to clients rather than selling it to them and we are working to utilise this opportunity.

We are also currently in the process of expanding our business through a global distribution network in order to capitalise on other offshore markets by having local bases.

What made you start your business?

Both myself and Rob worked in the offshore industry for many years, using a variety of equipment and moaning about their flaws. Then the opportunity arose for us to move from the south east back to Cornwall where Rob grew up.

Due to the lack of job vacancies for technical roles in our field in Cornwall we decided to start our own business and improve on the equipment and technology available to the offshore market using our own experience.

What have been your key decisions to make the business grow?

We have been adaptable. We have off the shelf products but when a client approaches us and enquiries about something different or new we never say no and look into it, usually making them a bespoke item.

Also with the downturn of the oil and gas industry over the last year we have seen a reduction in equipment purchases but an increase in rental, so as a result we have been increasing our rental pool of equipment to meet demand.

What are your bravest business moments?

Starting up and making the transition from being employed full time and having that security to being your own boss. When we first started the business no one would help us financially so we had to finance the business ourselves which gave us a vested interest in making the business work.

What have been the hardest lessons?

Expanding the business in a sustainable way has been tricky. As a business owner you want to keep driving forward but often you have to reign things in and plateau at times in order to consolidate and ensure cash flow is secure.

Being an employer has also been a steep learning curve in terms of managing personnel, legal aspects and ensuring we employ the right people for the roles.

What advice would you give to other aspirational entrepreneurs who want to start up a business?

Cashflow is king, protect IP and get any legal paperwork in place as soon as possible, for example terms of sale, staff contracts and trademarks.

Be prepared to evolve and be adaptable, accept criticism as a positive and use it to constantly improve what you do. Find out what support is available through grants, mentoring schemes and bodies such as UKTI and chambers of commerce.

Finally, be prepared to work all hours under the sun initially and gradually build a team of people around you who can give you support, but most of all enjoy being a business owner.

If you are thinking of starting a business, why not take a look at the Breakthrough Business Start-up programme.

Breakthrough Cornwall        Transform

There’s £7million to help you start a business in Cornwall


A multi-million-pound business start up programme dedicated to helping around 1,000 new businesses start in Cornwall before the end of 2018 has been launched.

The £7 million Breakthrough programme is the largest funded business start up programme ever to be launched in Cornwall, designed to support and enable people in the county to explore how to turn their business ideas into a solid, viable opportunity.

Breakthrough Cornwall

Delivered by business support specialists Oxford Innovation in partnership with Unlocking Potential, the ERDF-funded programme will act as a catalyst to support a diverse range of new Cornish businesses from micro and lifestyle through to innovative, high growth businesses with the potential to develop national and international markets.

Delivered through a series of regular, fully-funded, two-day workshops running throughout the county, Breakthrough’s unique programme provides a mix of one-to-one coaching for delegates with highly experienced business coaches and specialist mentors, follow on support, ongoing workshops and peer-to-peer support.

A series of evening and weekend courses will also be delivered through the programme with over 200 people having already signed up to Breakthrough.

“Securing this funding is absolutely fantastic news for Cornwall and the business support landscape here. The Breakthrough Programme is going to make a huge difference, providing a unique mix of dedicated help and support to budding entrepreneurs wanting to take their ideas and turn them into a reality,” said Sarah Wilkinson, Breakthrough Programme Manager, Oxford Innovation.

“The Breakthrough programme is not there to preach or tell people what they should be doing. Instead, it has been designed to cultivate natural capability by sharing knowledge and practical experience, instilling confidence to turn ideas into excellent new businesses, and facilitating and enabling that through a rBreakthrough Cornwallange of dedicated, tailored support,” she added.

Key to the Breakthrough programme are the team of highly experienced business coaches and development managers who between them have a wealth of skills and front line commercial experience built up at senior levels nationally and internationally across a diverse range of industry sectors.

This experience is used to provide invaluable one to one support for delegates on the programme both at the initial two-day programme and beyond.

According to Unlocking Potential Programme Director Allyson Glover, Breakthrough provides a springboard that is set to create thousands of new jobs and generate many millions of pounds in new revenue here in Cornwall.

“We believe that the lives of people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can be transformed through this programme and Breakthrough is there to kick start a new generation of dynamic growth businesses in the county.

“We’ve got ambitious targets but already, we’ve seen some really fantastic commercial ideas and early stage businesses that clearly demonstrate how much potential and talent there is right here in Cornwall,” said Allyson.

“We’re delighted to be working with Oxford Innovation to deliver the Breakthrough programme and would encourage anyone who is running an early stage business or who has a business idea they want to develop and explore to get in touch to see how Breakthrough can support them,” she added.

Between them, Oxford Innovation and Unlocking Potential have helped hundreds of people in Cornwall launch and develop their businesses, creating over 3,000 new jobs and boosting the local economy by over £60 million.

For more information on the Breakthrough Programme visit or call Jen Ayres on 0845 600 3660.

Breakthrough Cornwall            Transform

Announcing a new out-of-hours programme of business start-up support

We understand that giving up a week day isn’t always possible so we have found some brilliant business mentors from Oxford Innovation and Unlocking Potential who can work out-of-hours to deliver business start-up support to suit you!

The out- of-hours sessions throw the conventional business plan model out the window and provide some really engaging support which covers everything from customer segments to revenue streams, branding and testing. Our experienced and talented mentors will be able to work through the process of building up a reliable foundation for your business and help spot the areas that need more development.

Breakthrough Cornwall Breakthrough Cornwall Breakthrough Cornwall Breakthrough Cornwall

These sessions are being delivered as part of the ‘Breakthrough’ business support programme, which is designed for budding entrepreneurs who want to take their business idea to the next stage. The workshops are delivered by Oxford Innovation in partnership with Unlocking Potential and are fully funded by the ERDF.

Not sure? The daytime programme has had some fantastic results already – find out more here.

The dates for the evening workshop at Cornwall College, Camborne will start from 3rd November and run every consecutive Thursday night for four weeks from 6pm to 9pm.

The weekend sessions will be run for two consecutive Saturdays, from 26th November, to the 3rd December from 9am to 4:30pm. Truro.

The workshops are booking up quickly – give Jen Ayres a call on 0845 600 3660 or register your interest here.

The business behind blogging – Chloe’s start-up story

Hi, I’m Chloe, a first time mum and full-time digital influencer. Having had some brilliant support and encouragement from Unlocking Potential in 2014, I set up my Life Unexpected blog in 2015. It’s a family lifestyle blog where I’m trying to balance blogging, business and babies, all from our little spot on a beach in Cornwall!



When I first had my daughter in March 2014, I found myself a bit lost in regards to my work situation. I knew I had skills in digital marketing and I wanted to find a job that I was both passionate about, would utilize my skills and that fitted in with my family.

I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to start my own business or whether to work for a company in a digital marketing role. Either way, I lacked confidence. I really needed help and advice. After seeing advertisements, I enrolled on an Unlocking Potential ‘Employability’ course when my daughter was a few months old.

The course was designed to help graduates find their fit within a business and to help them to get a job. From the very first class it made an impact on my life. The trainers were informative, motivating and helpful.

life-unexpected-logoEach class was structured to highlight different issues we had with finding a job or starting our own business. The course completely boosted my confidence and helped me to recognise all the skills I have. It highlighted how I work as both an individual and as part of a team and how I could benefit an employer or other businesses.

During my time on the course, it was reaffirmed to me that I would benefit a role in digital marketing. Whilst doing a task in one of the classes, I spotted a gap in the market and noticed that digital influencers (bloggers and freelance digital marketers) were making waves throughout the country, but were not yet an established thing in Cornwall.

After talking through my idea of becoming a digital influencer with one of my trainers, they agreed that it utilised all of my skills and encouraged my idea of starting a blog.vid

After completing the course I went on to start a blog called ‘Life Unexpected’. I used the rest of my maternity leave to build my blog into a business, implementing the skills I had learnt on the course and networking with local PR companies and businesses.

By the time my maternity leave was over, my blog was a thriving business and I am now a full-time digital influencer. Through my blog I have also been lucky enough to be headhunted for freelance writing, digital marketing and design jobs.

Thanks to Unlocking Potential, I now get to do a job I am passionate about that is flexible around my family.

Without Unlocking Potential, I never would have found the confidence I needed to start my own business (especially one still so unheard of).

Are you interested in going it alone and setting up your own business? Find out about BREAKTHROUGH, the fully funded start-up programme run by Oxford Innovation in partnership with Unlocking Potential

Breakthrough Cornwall


Tom RaffieldA passion for nature and the beauty of wood has been the inspiration for a truly unique Cornish lighting and furniture business that is making waves across the UK.

Tom Raffield launched his business – Tom Raffield – in 2008 having become fascinated with the traditional practice of steam bending whilst studying at Falmouth College of Arts.

Discovering the traditional technique of using a chamber wouldn’t allow him to create the complex 3D bends he had envisaged, he committed years of research and experimentation, developing a new steaming method enabling him to turn his design visions into reality.

By reinventing a traditional process and bringing it into the 21st century with new tools and methods Tom is able to twist and bend wood to create shapes as freely as you use a pencil for drawing.

Some 8 years later, he and his wife Danielle have seen demand for their products grow – requiring an increasingly skilled team dedicated to helping them design and create their range of unique contemporary lighting and furniture.

The ethos that every piece in the range must be beautiful in form and and practical in function is at the core of the business and for them, recruiting people that share that ethos and passion for nature, design and the environment is fundamental.

Tom Raffield New Collection

And through our Fast Forward groups and Graduate programmes they have been able to do just that over the past 2 years, utilizing a combination of access to business expertise and knowledge backed up with enthusiastic and talented graduates to actively work within the business to help the business grow.

In 2014 one of our graduates, Milly Gibson joined the company in a customer relationship role, where she continues to work today. Now Milly has been joined by two further graduates in business and financial management and customer services roles and is about to be joined by a further graduate who will support the company’s marketing.

Such has been the growth of the company that it is now set to embark on the next chapter of its exciting journey – working with our partners at Oxford Innovation on the Transform high growth programme.

Tom Raffield Grand DesignIt’s a timely development as Tom and Danielle have just featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs which followed them as they created a stunning new home next to their workshop, a watched by millions of viewers on Channel 4 acting as a brilliant shop window for the business and its approach.

“Growing a business comes with a unique set of challenges and for us it was vital that the people we brought on board really understood and shared our passion for nature and design. By working with the team at Unlocking Potential we have been able to not only access business support and expertise that has helped us grow, but through the graduate programme, enabled us to bring some really great people on board to support us as we move the business forward,” said Tom.

“It’s a really exciting time and we are looking forward to working with the Oxford Innovation coaches on the Transform Programme to plan and deliver the next stage of our development,” he added.

You can find out more about our Breakthrough and Transform Programmes by clicking on the respective logos.

Breakthrough Cornwall   Transform

Innovate to Grow – The Growing Pains of a Successful Start-up

Jeremy Sneller, Managing Director of Cornish Tech business, TouchByte talks us through how he has grown his business, proving the benefits of years of experience before taking the plunge to go it alone! Find out the lessons he has learnt along the way in his interview below.

Jeremy Sneller TouchbyteDo you think you are a natural entrepreneur?

Right from a very early age, I have been coming up with ideas for businesses but it has never been the right time or I’ve had no money to fund the start of the journey. Also having been fortunate to have had a successful career in IT, it was very difficult to go from a regular six figure salary to nothing, including having financial commitments in a mortgage, school fees and lifestyle which at the time were difficult to give up.

Tell us a bit about your business concept and how you might evolve it?

We’ve taken the same underlying technology used for National Security and Border control and developed new face recognition applications for commercial businesses.

A great example is retailing …
Online retailers know everything about us when we shop via the web but in-store if we buy something with cash they know nothing about us! Every retailer wants us to have the best possible in-store experience but how do they do that when they know nothing about us?

As everyone has a unique face, our video analytics solution fills that gap by capturing customer information on:

  • How many visited and when
  • How often they visited
  • How long they stayed
  • Where they went
  • And their estimated age and gender

We provide the equivalent of online SEO for the offline world.

We already plan to extend the Video Analytics into Face Recognition whereby we can provide, flow around a building, and surveillance for prisoners in prisons, access control for hotel bedrooms and age verification for supermarket self-service checkouts.

Touchbyte Winning Pitch

What made you start your business?

Having seen the benefits that the technology could offer various government departments, I saw the even bigger opportunity to target commercial organisations and thought I’ve always wanted to start a business and this was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to miss. I’d met Mark Bailey our Technical Director through our daughters being close friends at school and he was interested in working together and has proved to be a safe pair of hands covering everything technical.

I also didn’t want to get to an age where I didn’t have the energy to travel around the country developing the business but instead ended up sitting in my armchair saying “I wish I’d…..” or “If only I’d…..”

Everything slotted into place – the timing was right, for family reasons we’d just moved to Cornwall so I needed something to focus my energy into, we’d sold a property which gave us the start-up funding, The Innovation Centre was just up the road and was the ideal environment to support a new start-up, I had a great team and family around me for support together with other organisations such as Unlocking Potential, Oxford Innovation, The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, The Samphire Club and other individuals who all helped me in starting the TouchByte journey.

Personally I enjoy developing things whether it is; large sales teams in big companies, a division, a brand or an individual’s career – so starting and building a company plays to my strengths and I love it!!

What have been your key decisions to make the business grow?

Starting the business in the first place was a major decision and commitment. Moving into The Innovation Centre to give us the right image in a high tech world and working with local suppliers to build our website, video, marketing collateral and social media content and expanding and using my previous network of contacts in large global partners who have been incredibly supportive in providing excellent qualified leads and introductions. I also enlisted the support of local graduate talent via Unlocking Potential which in turn provided a platform from which they could develop and enhance their careers.

Pitch@Palace Winners

What are your bravest business moments?

Opening for business in the first place and investing heavily into equipment to be used for trials into major named UK customers was a huge commitment. Building relationships with some of the world’s biggest IT partners and the visibility and risk it put on our credibility was also a big step.

I also found that taking people on with all the HR bureaucracy that entails. For instance, reading Terms & Conditions of business partner contracts and signing them was challenging.

Now my biggest challenge is to grow the business and explore the world of external investment and recruiting additional expertise.

What have been the hardest lessons?

Things don’t happen as quickly as you’d like them to. Keeping motivated can be a challenge.
Understanding the financial and legal restraints on a business and the time it takes to do the mundane things has been a lesson I have had to learn.

I have learnt to have faith in other people to do a good job… delegate, you can’t do everything
It can be a lonely road, people look to you for leadership and guidance and if you haven’t done it before you have to make it up. You don’t always get it right!

No regular salary which if you’ve been used to one can be difficult to adjust to. You find it difficult to switch off, even if you’re lucky enough to go on holiday, you’re always looking for the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot to check emails.

What advice would you give to other aspirational entrepreneurs who want to start up a business?

I’ve started my first start-up and I’m in my 50’s so age doesn’t matter, if you have a good idea, explore the possibilities now before it’s too late. Share your idea initially with family and friends and then those that don’t know you – listen to what they say and reflect, make changes…

If someone is already doing it, just do it better! Surround yourself with a bunch of people you trust, respect and enjoy working with. Outsource the tasks you find difficult or don’t enjoy
Keep your eyes on the big prize- don’t give up at the first hurdle… IT’S TOUGH….
If you believe in what you’re doing and you start seeing success, keep at it, it’s well worth it in the end.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, please do get in touch to discuss your support options.

Breakthrough Cornwall    Transform

Story of a Cornish entrepreneur set to make a universal difference

Cornish Tech entrepreneur Jeremy Hurst has put everything he has into developing a wearable device that is designed to reduce the number of people, particularly children, from being killed or maimed by known hazards such as land mines.

Jeremy Hurst UzimatechJeremy was one of just three entrepreneurs to progress from the latest heat of Pitch@Palace On Tour Cornwall to the Pitch@Palace Boot Camp on October 14th at Harwell Space Campus, Oxfordshire, where he will receive support and guidance in developing and accelerating his businesses.

We find out more about his journey as an entrepreneur as he discusses the bumpy bits as well as successes of growing his business.

Do you think you are a natural entrepreneur?

“Difficult to say really. I’ve always been able to think laterally and come up with innovative solutions to problems, but I don’t think I was previously what I would consider to be an entrepreneur. I was one of those normal people who had ideas and then did nothing with them, only to watch others launch a similar product years later. I eventually concluded that the only people who became truly successful were the ones who did something about their ideas, and I only had myself to blame that the name in the headlines wasn’t mine. I guess to answer your question, I’ve developed into an entrepreneur over time and it feels natural to me today. My biggest problem is that I now have too many ideas!

Jeremy Hurst Winner
Tell us a bit about your business concept and how you might evolve it?

The Uzimatech concept is based on an incident that I was involved in around 20 years ago as a peacekeeper shortly after the end of the civil war in the Former Yugoslavia. A young boy was playing football with his friends, and the ball went into a nearby field. The boy chased the ball, as young boys do, and he was killed by a landmine. He knew the minefield was there, it was well marked, and yet in the heat of the moment, the boy forgot the danger and paid with his life.

My concept is simply a wearable device that will alert the wearer to the proximity of danger. By monitoring the position of the wearer, their speed, and their direction of travel, and comparing this with known hazards in the area, the device could alert the wearer should they move too close to the danger zone together with providing them with an indication of the most direct escape route to avoid that danger. That danger could be anything from a cliff edge or a train, or at the other end of the scale it could be a toxic cloud, a minefield, or a nuclear radiation zone. The hazard could be fixed or mobile, and as long as the hazard can be mapped and/or its movement predicted then the device will give the wearer a chance to realise that they are in danger before they find out the hard way.

The device could be evolved in a number of directions. We’re already talking with industry about its use as an augmentation to health and safety practices by providing real time monitoring of personnel within the context of their working environment, but the technology that we are developing could also be used in a number of other scenarios for example within the leisure, security, or asset protection markets.

Our driving vision is to develop a sufficient revenue stream from the commercial application of the technology that we can roll out the Uzimatech device on a global humanitarian basis to provide an additional level of security to those people living day to day within hazardous environments. If we can achieve this, then we will have achieved our aim.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, please do get in touch to discuss your business support options.

Breakthrough Cornwall   Transform

Announcing the three winning businesses at Pitch@Palace On Tour Cornwall

We are absolutely delighted to announce the three winning businesses from Tuesday’s event at Pool Innovation Centre and attended by HRH The Duke of York.

Allyson Glover Unlocking Potential

Photographs courtesy of Suzanne Johnson Photography Allyson Glover from Unlocking Potential meeting the Duke of York

Pitch@Palace On Tour Cornwall, hosted by Unlocking Potential, showcased twenty entrepreneurs, each of whom delivered a three minute pitch observed by Pitch@Palace founder The Duke of York and a group of influential business accelerators and an audience of over one hundred.

The winners were Easy Video, TouchByte, and Uzimatech, securing their place at Pitch@Palace Boot Camp on October 14th at Harwell Space Campus, Oxfordshire, where they will receive support and guidance in developing and accelerating their businesses. The other businesses will still be considered for Boot Camp – the selected businesses will be announced imminently by Pitch@Palace.

Pitch@Palace Winners

Photgraphs courtesy of Suzanne Johnson Photography Pitch@Palace Winners: TouchByte, EasyVideo, Uzimatech

Cornwall is one of just three locations across the UK to host a Pitch@Palace On Tour event (the others being held earlier in Sheffield and Belfast) in the run up to Pitch@Palace 6.0. More than fifty businesses applied to pitch at the event, and of the twenty selected to pitch on the day, twelve businesses were from Cornwall. Furthermore, two of the three winners are Cornish, reflecting the hotbed of Cornish talent in the tech sector.

The Duke of York, Pitch@Palace

Photograph courtesy of Suzanne Johnson Photography Duke of York welcoming Pitch@Palace audience

All the businesses selected to pitch at Pitch@Palace Boot Camp will also attend the final networking event, held at St. James’s Palace on 2nd November. At this event a smaller selection of these businesses will pitch directly to an invited audience of investors, mentors and key business contacts.

The event would not have been possible without the support from our partners Oxford Innovation, who provided some fantastic mentoring support, as well as Superfast Business Cornwall, who also provided key support for the competing businesses.

Ultramed, Ivstitia, Hertzian, NCI Technologies, Feritech, Pixxcell, ADi Access, Online Orchestra, Round Table Games Studio, and Stormtide were the other Cornish businesses invited to pitch at the event.

More information about Pitch@Palace 6.0 can be found here.

Pitch@Palace – shortlist announced!

With only a week to go until Pitch@Palace On Tour Cornwall, we are really excited to be able to unveil the much anticipated shortlist of entrepreneurs who have been invited to pitch their business to the judges, investors and business leaders attending the event.

Overall 22 businesses were shortlisted for the event, which has been made possible with support  from Superfast Business Cornwall. Three businesses will secure a place at Pitch@Palace Boot Camp in Oxfordshire on 14th October, 2016 ahead of Pitch@Palace at St. James’s Palace on 2nd November, 2016.

Established by The Duke of York, in less than three years Pitch@Palace has helped over 205 businesses grow, with some now enjoying huge global success. More information about Pitch@Palace can be found at

One of the entrepreneurs shortlisted for Pitch@Palace On Tour Cornwall is Jeremy Sneller, Director at Cornwall-based tech firm TouchByte Ltd.

We feel privileged to be part of the process of Pitch@Palace and to be shortlisted to go through to the next stage gives us great visibility not only locally in Cornwall but also Nationally. Exciting times…..”, said Jeremy.

Congratulations to the 22 businesses shortlisted – find out more about each of them below.


Ultramed Ltd –
Ultramed is a health technology company. We have developed a suite of programs that are completed by patients online in preparation for procedures or operations

TouchByte Ltd –
We provide real-time customer insight, recognition and validation of “PEOPLE in PLACES” using Face Recognition technology.

Ivstitia Limited –
We are a dedicated secure restorative justice case management system provider to pubic and private sector organisations.

Uzimatech Ltd –
Uzimatech uses wearable technology to provide an adaptable safety system to safeguard people and assets from harm within any environment.

Hertzian Ltd –
We provide applications that help product owners highlight problem areas within their products and analyse the current and future state of the market.

NCI Technologies –
NCI is a computer support company with 28 staff but work with businesses and education worldwide.

Feritech Limited –
Designed and built to withstand the harshest marine environments, Feritech equipment won’t let you down. Every product we manufacture, sell or hire must be reliable, efficient and safe – trust is never more essential than in the extreme conditions our clients work in.

Pixxcell Worldwide –
Pixxcell is a time travelling atlas of human curiosity. Create shareable and embeddable photo story maps to show off your travels, your lives, your journeys and places and things that interest you.
Whether you’re a traveller, travel blogger, photographer (or just have a story you want to tell) Pixxcell will make your story look awesome.
Our aim is to create a visual visitors book of planet earth. It’s a bit like time machine zoom; into any area of the world and move back and forwards through time to see how places have changed throughout the years.

ADi Access ltd –
We design and manufacture audio wayfinding equipment to guide people with a Visual Impairment around public Disabled Access Toilets.

Online Orchestra –
The Online Orchestra is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). We’re asking how we can use the internet to give children and amateur musicians who live in remote communities around the country the same opportunities to play in an orchestra as those who live in larger towns and cities. We’re designing an online orchestra that will allow people who live hundreds of miles apart to make music together for the first time.

Round Table Games Studio –
A games studio combining industry veterans with emerging new talent to create world glass games and forge Cornwall as a new hub for games as an industry.

Stormtide Limited –
independent video game company that prides itself on making high visual quality games.


Custodian Solutions –
Anti-Counterfeiting Cloud Platform

Argand Solutions –
Argand Solutions is a UK-based energy technology company. Our mission is to develop products that drive significant energy reductions through both data innovation and alternative technological responses to energy management, use and generation. 

Led By Dreams CIC –
We are creating innovative products and services and collaborating with organisations and agencies to provide support to Domestic Abuse survivors.


EasyVideo –
Award winning technology that enables you to scan any item around your home with your smart device and it plays a video of how to use it for example; scanning the kettle with your iPad and it plays a ‘how to make a cup of coffee’ video.


DoodleMaths –
DoodleMaths is a tablet-based, adaptive and intuitive maths learning programme  for 4-14 year olds. Progress and motivation grow in just 10 minutes a day. 


Gradient DM –
At Gradient DM we revolutionise the way companies deal with gender diversity management. We have developed tools at to help close the gender gap.


Vocalens –
Working closely with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and visually impaired people, Vocalens’ team of tech start-up specialists have designed ergonomic and cost effective wearable eye glasses that scan and read out printed books. This invention means that visually impaired people will be able to read from any printed book, improving their access to education, their choice of career paths and their quality of life.


Quikkly Ltd –
Customers don’t like queuing – they abandon in-store purchases rather than wait. With Quikkly, they can simply scan a barcode or Quikkly Tag to order one or more items for delivery. They get what they want, where and when they want it. Quikkly offers convenience of online shopping in the real world.

EarTex offers a ‘hearable’ technology that a) overcomes the problems of reduced hearing clarity due to ageing, background noise and noise-induced hearing loss b) changes how we control our acoustic environment and c) provides a platform for wireless communication and audio notifications. The EarTex wireless ‘in-the-ear’ devices overcome the issues presented by hearing loss and hearing aids while also providing real time notifications to the wearer.


Cody –
The next version of the web. Be the first to experience the future

Jamm success spreading around the world

After hearing the screams of his young son Oscar when he trapped his fingers in a door at home, Marc Ward decided to look for a door stop that would prevent it happening again.

But after a fruitless search, the St Ives surf shop owner decided he would design his own. Five years on and Marc’s product Jamm is now being distributed and sold around the world. He also has a growing portfolio of products created under the Jamm brand that are designed to provide solutions to everyday problems.

“After Oscar trapped his fingers we looked everywhere for a door stop that wouldn’t dislodge from either side. But we couldn’t find anything. They were all the same and only able to only stop the door from one side. So I decided I’d come up with my own design. About 5 minutes after making it, I thought there was a commercial opportunity here, especially when my research revealed there were 28,000 A&E admissions in the UK alone every year from fingers getting trapped in doors,” said Marc.

Jamm Door StopsSeveral prototypes later Marc came up with a design he felt was ready to take to market and Jamm was born. Early on in the process, Marc worked with Unlocking Potential to tap into graduate support which included research and copywriting.

“You really do need support early on in the process and it was fantastic to get that from Unlocking Potential through their graduate placement programme. It gave us a real boost exactly when we needed it,” said Marc.

Having launched the door stop at a trade show in 2011, Marc found a distributor and the business started to grow. Today Jamm products are available in outlets including Sainsbury’s, Screw Fix, Toys R Us and are also sold in hardware chains across the USA and in baby stores in Singapore.

Online sales have also flourished and now Amazon has become Jamm’s biggest source of business. Marc has also developed a range of other products including a hands free door handle, egg roller and even a Whale and Dolphin Rescue Slide to use when they are stranded on beaches. He is now working on a Mosquito Trap which could have major benefits in third world countries.

So after five yeas in business, what are the key things that Marc has learned?

“You need to know early on if you have a truly viable product. If it isn’t then move on. Don’t be sentimental and don’t get too excited. There comes a time when you have to put all your chips on the table and go for it. Ultimately running a business is a continual learning curve.”

For more information on the range of Jamm products visit

How a gap in the market led to the fruits of the earth for Frugi

When Lucy and Kurt Jewson had their first son – Tom – back in 2004 they wanted to use modern reusable cloth nappies rather than disposables, joining the growing numbers of parents making a more eco choice.

But they were faced with a problem. None of the babygrows available would actually fit over Tom’s cloth nappies.

“Although the washable nappies were high tech and as easy to use as disposables, they did give our baby quite a big bottom that we could not find clothes to fit over! I couldn’t find a single company offering a solution to cater for this market,” said Lucy. “Instead I found all these cloth nappy online forums with other mums in the same situation and from there our business idea was born. I knew nothing about manufacturing or clothing, but decided to jump in anyway and give it a go,” says Lucy.

So Kurt and Lucy decided to create and launch their own organic baby clothing line. Cut4Cloth was born, starting life in their spare room at home in Constantine.

Some 12 years later, and the adventure continues! From only receiving one order on their first day as Cut4Cloth, the company has grown significantly, rebranding to become Frugi in 2008, a name which is now recognized around the World having won a clutch of top industry awards.


So Kurt and Lucy decided to create and launch their own organic baby clothing line. Cut4Cloth was born, starting life in their spare room at home in Constantine.

Some 12 years later, and the adventure continues! From only receiving one order on their first day as Cut4Cloth, the company has grown significantly, rebranding to become Frugi in 2008, a name which is now recognized around the World having won a clutch of top industry awards.

Today it operates from a 14,000 square foot site in Helston employing over 60 people to help with more than 70,000 orders a year globally. Frugi products are now stocked by more that 500 independent retailers, and enjoys annual sales in excess of £6.5 Million

“So many businesses in the nursery sector are started by mum’s that have found a gap in the market for a product they need and Frugi is no exception. It’s been a massively steep learning curve – and still is.“ added Lucy.

Getting the right support is essential in every business and Kurt and Lucy worked with Unlocking Potential early on. In fact, since launching their business they have taken on 10 UP graduates across marketing, design, supply chain and finance roles.

“Working with UP was pivotal to our success in the early days as the team there really helped work with us to recruit and train the talent that we needed, when we really couldn’t afford the time or money to do that ourselves. Without their help there is no way we could have grown as quickly as we did and the several graduates we recruited, we were also really grateful for all the extra support they received from UP. It was like having a rocket boost to their time with us and we have many of those graduates working at Frugi still, now we are a team of 65,” says Lucy.

For more information on Frugi visit their website