Entrepreneurs strengthen entrepreneurs | Virgin

It’s always great to reconnect with entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years and see how much they’ve grown. This recently happened on Necker with a brilliant entrepreneur/psychologist named Niyc Pidgeon.

Niyc received funding in 2013 from a Virgin StartUp pilot program between Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation and Project North East in the North East of England. The program inspired us to launch Virgin StartUp across the UK, which has now funded over 5,000 entrepreneurs. While we were building Virgin StartUp, Niyc started building her wellness brand with the help of the loan.

Virgin startup

Virgin startup

Both in their early working days, Virgin StartUp and Niyc worked together – sharing invitations to events and opportunities to speak. This experience helped Niyc find a love and talent for public speaking, which became a critical part of her role as a positive psychology coach. One of these events was an online workshop I participated in where we discussed leadership lessons.

Richard Branson at a Google Meet leadership workshop

Nick Pidgeon

With these networking experiences and funding in hand, Niyc grew her start-up into a global brand that includes online courses, coaching, events and mentorship for an audience of mostly female entrepreneurs. She also found time to write a bestseller on positive psychology.

It was so inspiring to hear Niyc speak so passionately about empowering female entrepreneurs, who are typically underrepresented and underfunded in the startup landscape. In fact, for every 10 new businesses started by men in the UK, fewer than five are started by women. In recent years, Virgin StartUp has also worked tirelessly to close this funding gap, committing to funding an equal 50/50 split between female and male founders. The team is now very close to its goal, currently funding 44% female founders and 56% male founders through the seed loans. The current Collective Impact program has 50% female founders and 52% of the London Accelerator program participants are women. Brilliant.

Virgin StartUp's 50:50 funding pledge

Virgin startup

Thank you to Virgin StartUp, Niyc and so many others who work hard to support female entrepreneurs and break down the barriers they face. I’m really looking forward to our next Niyc reunion!

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