Case Study: Steph Varley

Founder and Director of INC360 CIC and Executive Assistant at The Data Shed

8 July 2020 By Next-Up

Steph Varley can’t believe how much help, advice, support and contacts she has been given through the Next-Up mentoring site.

Mentors help start-up achieve 104% of their crowdfunding target

Steph Varley and her business partner, Reema Vadoliya, launched INC360 in 2019, to create immersive community experiences for young people experiencing loneliness – using virtual reality headsets to join in events from a distance. Long before COVID-19 hit, they wanted to help those in hospitals, hospices or finding it difficult to socialize because of anxiety. 

Steph has taken full advantage of the experienced generation of advisers who are offering help for free – working with Alun Davies on a long term basis and speaking to Neil Franklin, Caroline Black and Jonny Ross for specific pieces of advice. 

Steph says, “Alun has really helped me to see the business from another perspective. When you start explaining your business out loud to someone who knows nothing about it, it really pushes you to articulate the idea better.  We are so passionate about this subject but we were assuming others would understand all the issues.  We have now pulled together more evidence to explain the story and the benefits of the service. 

“Alun has also given me an opportunity to soundboard and helped to develop a marketing plan. 

Steph reached out to Neil Franklin, who used to be chair of an NHS healthcare trust, for advice on approaching organisations as a start up service. He helped with reviewing the business plan and financial model and put them in touch with a mental health charity.  

She adds, “I wanted advice on PR so headed back to the platform to see who could help in that area.  Jonny Ross is great at online marketing and signposted people in the digital and mental health industry who may be interested in collaborating, meaning once the Crowdfunder finished we already had exciting leads that could support the business long term! 

“Caroline Black was a marketing director and is now trustee of a hospice so is helping us think through a number of issues from user perspectives.

“I can’t believe how much help, advice, support and contacts have been given. The support on offer is fantastic and has given me confidence in my ability to run a business and develop professional relationships. I’d recommend anyone starting or scaling a business to use this experience to talk through roadblocks and find new routes to looking at challenges. I don’t know where else you could find this amount of knowledge and expertise at your finger tops.”  

To find a mentor for your business sign up to the free Next-Up site and approach any of the 200+ people offering to be a sounding board. 


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