A budding digital entrepreneur from Edinburgh is expanding his online property website and developing his business model with the support of enterprise mentoring from Lloyds Banking Group and the Scottish Chamber of Commerce.
Sam Zawadzki is co-founder of advancetoGO, the online property website which connects landlords with potential tenants through a quick and easy advertising process.
Sam, who was the youngest person in Scotland to train as an Energy Performance Certifier with the Building Research Establishment, launched the business after spotting a gap in the market for a website that would allow landlords to create their own advertisements which are then posted on a number of major property websites.
Sam said: “Launching your own business is quite a daunting process, but I’ve always thought that when you come up with a concept that you truly believe in then you should stop at nothing to make it a success. My background in property management has been extremely useful in kick-starting the business but after launching, I felt like I would benefit from additional support which is why a signed up for a mentor.”
Sam joined the Business Mentoring Scotland programme run by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, through which he was partnered with mentor Barry Woods, an associate director at Lloyds Banking Group in Edinburgh.
The mentoring scheme is a nationwide programme, set up by the five major high street banks in conjunction with the Business Finance Taskforce and the British Banking Association, with the overall aim of helping the economy return to sustainable growth by training industry professionals to share their own skills and experience with entrepreneurs.
Speaking about the scheme Jackie Jenks, Senior Manager enterprise mentoring at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Mentoring is a real area of focus for us as an organisation and over 40 per cent of all the mentors involved in the scheme are from Lloyds Banking Group. We’re extremely pleased to be working with organisations like the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and to be giving support to Scottish SMEs.”
Through regular face-to-face meetings as well as phone calls and email correspondence, Barry was able to support Sam across a number of areas of the business. He provided guidance on the competitive landscape, helping with the development of a new marketing strategy and highlighting events where there would be the opportunity to meet new clients.
Barry said: “My background is in commercial real estate, so when I heard about the bank’s involvement in the national mentoring scheme, I was really keen to get involved. I felt that I could impart some of the skills I have gained throughout my career onto others and act as a sounding board for new ideas.
“As part of our work together, I encouraged Sam to attend as many local business and trade events as possible in order to help raise his profile as an entrepreneur and broaden his network of industry contacts. We also held mock pitches when Sam was applying for grants and funding which gave him the opportunity to practice his delivery and prepare for any potential questions.”
Sam added: “Mentoring is a really important business tool and I think people can sometimes underestimate just how useful it is. Because I was relatively new to running a business in this industry, I was able to discuss my decision making with Barry first and hear his honest and impartial thoughts. I would urge other business leaders to consider how enterprise mentoring could benefit them too.”