Pitch Perfect: The Circle Academy celebrates 2020’s participating Social Entrepreneurs

Cohort 3 of The Circle Academy commenced on the 17th of September 2020 after 6 months of what can only be described as COVID-related chaos. It was an immense victory for us to be able to pilot the first ever fully digital Academy programme, with a brand new Academy Manager, a purpose built online learning platform and eight existing or aspiring social business leaders along for the ride.

The 6 month interval between the day we had to halt in-person delivery of cohort 2 to the moment we admitted those in the waiting room to the ‘Welcome’ session of cohort 3 was an immense journey in adaptability, teamwork and resilience. Nevertheless 16 participants from Cohorts 2 and 3 juggled existing businesses, new ventures, jobs, childcare and a plethora of other commitments and successfully completed the full 12 week programme.

The personal and professional growth, changes of mindset, and lightbulb moments the Academy team witnessed from participants as facilitators of the programme has been immense, and was incredibly humbling to witness. The 16 individuals have not only amassed the business knowledge to build viable and profitable businesses from their existing passion and social impact, they’ve also gained the self belief to execute their ideas, and the self worth to prioritise their wellbeing and receive a fair wage whilst doing so.

“It is so inspiring and motivating to see how many people, all 24 entrepreneurs, have gone through this programme in just a year. I think it’s something absolutely phenomenal that The Circle Academy has started here and I’m so proud to be a part of the journey and watch each individual’s progress in their entrepreneurial journey.”

Alvina Menzies, The Circle Academy Manager

It would be impossible fully to capture the experience and growth of each of these individuals, yet the pitches they delivered are a testament to this.

The entrepreneurs and third sector leaders from across Scotland who participated in the two 2020 cohorts put their pitching skills into practice, some for the very first time, and demonstrated their learning from the programme in the form of a pitch.

“It really drives home that pitching is really just telling a story. We’ve heard some really powerful and arresting stories today about people’s resilience and recovery from some of the darkest places, and the resulting ambition and passion.”

Donald McPherson, Chair of The Circle Board

After deliberation from the panel, Daniel Flannigan, a cohort 3 participant and student from Montrose Academy, was awarded £225 towards his business idea, ‘RTGT’, or ‘Remember The Good Times’, a mens casual clothing line which will raise funds to support men’s mental health. The successful pitch from Cohort 2 was that of Linda Sterry from Funeral Link, who will use the funds awarded to support 4 families experiencing funeral poverty in Dundee to access confidential support with bereavement and reducing funeral costs.

“Well done to each and every one of the individuals that pitched. The pitches were fantastic and really blew me away. The level that everyone has developed since the beginning of the programme earlier this year. And well done to Daniel and Linda for winning the prize pots.”

Kirsty Thomson, Founder and CEO of The Circle

The event concluded with the awarding of certificates of recognition for the successful participants. Candidates will now have the chance to submit work to attain an SVQ: ‘The Circle Academy Award in Social Entrepreneurship’.

A final congratulations to the 2020 participants from Cohort 2: Ana Hine, Alvina Menzies, Audrey Kerr, Emma Charlton, Jillian Elizabeth, Kathryn Rattray, Linda Sterry, Minha Rajput-Ray. And from cohort 3: Lynsey Ramsay, Daniel Flannigan, Elaine Stewart, Jill Duke, Jorgie Hill, Rebecca Watt, Sorcha Pringle, Wanda McGregor.

The event marked the final week of The Circle Academy Cohort 3, and the first ever fully digital programme delivery and we are delighted to be continuing the programme and supporting more entrepreneurs in the new year.

The Circle Academy’s full programme will be open to a new cohort of individuals in 2021. There are also two flexible learning packages of the programme available for those looking for an introduction to social entrepreneurship. Anyone interested in The Circle Academy can find out more by contacting academy@thecircledundee.org.uk or by visiting The Circle Academy page on our website.

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