ESpark co-founder Jim Duffy launches new accelerator

Three top names in the UK entrepreneurial sector have teamed up to launch a 'next generation' business accelerator to tackle the issue of companies failing to scale.

Jim Duffy has teamed up with Bill Morrow and Al Walker to launch the Moonshot Academy. Picture: Contributed
Jim Duffy has teamed up with Bill Morrow and Al Walker to launch the Moonshot Academy. Picture: Contributed

Moonshot Academy is the brainchild of Jim Duffy, Bill Morrow and Al Walker, co-founders of free business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark), online investment platform Angels Den, and Colombian-based workspace sharing company Siembra Coworking respectively.

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The trio, who say they have enabled more than £200 million in investment into companies they have worked with, said that the venture will unite top entrepreneurial know-how, partnering over the long term “with the most promising start-ups from ignition to fruition to make more millionaires”.

They also said it will offer an industry first with its “partner-for-life approach, staying with each business until exit”.

It comes as data shows that nearly 202,000 companies were registered with Companies House in Scotland at the end of the first quarter, up 4 per cent from the same period last year.

The Moonshot Academy venture will not have a physical presence but its company address is in Glasgow, and it will have a big focus on London, offering 20 spaces for hard-working and high-performing firms in the pre-scale-up stage with stratospheric ambitions.

It will provide top-level mentorship to help such organisations secure investment, with three phases, known as ‘launchpad’, ‘orbit’ and ‘moonshot’.

Launchpad will nurture start-ups with a validated business idea to develop a clear business plan and set up a strong company structure while raising up to £150,000 seed investment.

Orbit will support through pre-scale by honing a “sound” business model and advising on valuation and financial modelling, for example, with this phase helping secure investment of up to £350,000. The moonshot phase will target founders ready to scale their business, aiming to raise more than £1 million with plans to exit Moonshot Academy.

Duffy said the accelerator “was founded to tackle the billion-dollar issue of companies failing to scale and optimise on return”.

He added: “Many business-builders have the potential to become millionaires and create something sustainable, but because they don’t know what they don’t know, the chances for many are slim to zero.”

Moonshot Academy takes an option rather than equity in the firms it works with, and Morrow explained: “We only profit once our partner businesses profit… it’s a win-win situation.

“Too many early-stage businesses across the UK are failing to secure investment, and don’t fully understand how to effectively pre-scale their company… that’s where we can help.”

Walker, the academy’s chief executive, said: “We are passionate about being part of our partners’ future success and their successful journey to Moonshot.”