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Young entrepreneur launches networking venture

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“The only things currently available for young entrepreneurs are Shell Livewire and the Prince’s Trust,” says Wilkinson. “But I wanted to set up an initiative, run by young entrepreneurs, for young entrepreneurs, based on a networking and mentoring model.”

Wilkinson founded her first business at 23. She still runs Just Blush, a make-up business, but since launching Striding Out in 2005, only part-time.

Her networking scheme, aimed at entrepreneurs between 18-30, has already received endorsement from the likes of Tim Campbell, of The Apprentice fame and founder of the Bright Ideas Trust.

With established networks in Brighton, Manchester and London, Wilkinson is looking to expand the business to Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford and Cambridge. Membership won’t break the bank – becoming a member costs £10 a month plus VAT.

“It’s a not-for-profit organisation,” she says. “ But we do generate income from our training and mentoring sessions and events. Over 700 people attend our events in London, and we’ve worked with over 2,000 young people in schools and universities across the country.”

This is what members have to say about the scheme:

Jessica and Daniella of Betty and Bird regularly attend Striding Out events .

“We have found both Like-Minded and Dinner Matters events a great escape from isolation, and have come away enthused and inspired by people we’ve met. The events are very diverse and you can always tap into other people’s ideas. Everyone is so willing to help each other.Striding Out has played a role in developing both professional relationships and friendships that have contributed to the success of our business."

Tom Savage is a serial entrepreneur, having set up his first business four years ago, he now runs Blue Ventures, Travel Roots , and Tip the Planet. He is constantly exploring new ideas and opportunities.

"In the last couple of years, Striding Out has done literally that, helping to excite, engage and connect a plethora of entrepreneurs. Since joining, I have seen the organisation and its influence grow and made fantastic connections with people who’ve helped me with my ideas."

If you’re a young entrepreneur and you’d like to get involved, visit www.stridingout.co.uk. The organisation is currently running a competition called The Big Leap which is looking for outstanding young businesses in the IT, new media, creative, environmental, product innovation and manufacturing industries. You can win a bunch of coaching sessions, a five-day business bootcamp, membership to the scheme and £500 prize money.

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