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Two ambitious South West businesses are expanding rapidly and boosting their operations following enterprise mentoring support from Lloyds Bank.

Swindon-based Lesson Recorder, an educational video technology provider, and Bristol-based Medincle, a medical software supplier, have both recently benefitted from the Government-backed national mentoring initiative after working closely with qualified mentor from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, Duncan Webster (pictured above).

Recognising the need for some external guidance to help them develop, both firms joined the enterprise support organisation, Business Mentors South West (BMSW) which aims to help small firms by partnering them with fully-trained mentors.

Through a series of regular meetings, Lesson Recorder and Medincle worked with Duncan to improve and develop their business plans. They were also able to discuss new ideas with him to get a completely objective and impartial opinion key business matters.

Speaking about the scheme, Niels Leadholm, co-founder of Medincle, said: “We produce a unique type of software that helps medical students and professionals check the spelling of complex medical terms quickly and efficiently.

“The idea for the business was born out of our own experiences as medical students, so we knew there was a niche market for a product like this. However, coming from medical backgrounds meant that we started with very little experience in actually running a business. With that in mind we knew we could definitely benefit from some extra support.

“Having an enterprise mentor was hugely beneficial for us. Duncan’s professional experience was particularly useful when it came to our accounting and business planning, and we could always rely on him to give us an up-front and honest opinion.”

Derek Stewart, founder of Lesson Recorder, added: “Lesson Recorder software is used in teacher training programs to record and broadcast live lessons as well as by students for revision.

“We’re always looking for new ways to grow our offering and working with Duncan is incredibly useful when it comes to refining new ideas. For example, we now are now being used to help improve the quality of teaching in primary schools – an area we previously had little involvement in – and this new direction came about as a result of meetings with Duncan.”

“The national mentoring initiative is a fantastic free resource for growing firms and I would urge other business leaders to consider how it could help them develop. When you’re involved in the day-to-day running of a firm, it is often hard to see things objectively so having an outside opinion can be invaluable.”

Since working with Duncan, both businesses have developed substantially. Medincle has sold its software to Cardiff and Bristol Universities and is due to release the second version of the technology imminently, and Lesson Recorder is recruiting two new members of staff as it prepares to grow its market share.

Duncan Webster added: “Mentoring is a great opportunity to step outside of my day-to-day role and work with a diverse range of young, ambitious businesses. Seeing both Medincle and Lesson Recorder grow so much over the past few months, and knowing that I was able to support them with this, is extremely rewarding.

“A lot of firms probably aren’t even aware that free services like this are available, but they should really consider how an enterprise mentor could help them grow and develop. It is easy to get caught up in the daily pressures of running a business, so having an outside perspective to help you take a step back and see things from a different standpoint can be hugely beneficial.”