Business support has helped mentor find her niche
From fashion to investment readiness, Pamela Sharpe’s enterprise journey has been far from typical. Despite her new business – Mela & Sharpe – being stalled by the pandemic, two years on she has found her place helping SMEs get investment ready and individuals, particularly females, grow in confidence and develop their business ideas.
Pamela started with a fashion business on eBay selling women’s clothing in 2010. This went well leading to the development of her online platform which was used by several luxury brands. Whilst doing this she found herself advising some of the smaller independent businesses giving guidance and helping where she could on branding or style, in fact, whatever they needed.
Pamela explained: “I found myself drawn to helping people, that’s where I felt really comfortable. From there it was natural for me to be an investor relations consultant where I can help people gain steps toward their entrepreneurial life and navigate the private equity and venture capital landscape.”
Pamela spent months planning her investment-ready workshops and events and was due to start just as Covid19 hit, a particularly ‘horrific’ time for her and everyone. Having worked with Business Adviser, Aruna Bhagwan before, she reached out again to see what help was available from Leicestershire’s Business Gateway Growth Hub.
Pamela continued: “Aruna has helped me a lot. I know I advise people on how to do things, but I also need my own advice too!
“She’s been a massive support – the connections, the people I’ve met or that she’s recommended. Without her directing me to these people I wouldn’t have known where to start. The huge benefit is that once you get to know people in the business community, they start referring you to their contacts. Without her direction or introductions, I don’t think I would have the network I have now.”
Pamela runs workshops on getting investment ready for startups and SMEs and also provides business mentoring to individuals. Her clients include the City University of London, De Montfort University, Prince’s Trust, HSBC, Zinthiya Trust and Virgin StartUps.
“The mentoring work I’m doing with the Zinthiya Trust is funded by the Community Renewal Fund. This work is around supporting females from the BAME community who want to do something different, maybe work for themselves or have an idea but aren’t sure where to start. Or indeed already have a business but want help with the next steps.
“Whilst on this project I’ve discovered a lot of areas we could do more to help the women in Leicester. But I’ve heard it’s really complicated to get your own funding, so this is another area I’ve spoken to Aruna about.”
The business is growing through word of mouth and so far Pamela hasn’t spent any money on marketing or advertising. However, her plans now include streamlining her investment-ready courses so she can add them to pitching platforms like Teachable and Thinkific. These platforms enable people to add courses on any subject area and are a place where others can buy them. Pamela will need a specific marketing strategy so people can find her and a strong portfolio to get her name out there. Aruna is also providing some guidance on creating this marketing strategy to help her with these platforms.
Aruna commented: “I’ve worked with Pamela on a number of strategies. This includes considering her offer which is quite broad and perhaps honing into areas she is particularly drawn to like women in business and the BAME communities. She is already working with some terrific organisations and I’m so pleased her business is moving forward.”
From a standing start, Mela & Sharpe is on an upward trajectory and in further good news, Pamela has been named ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ for the University of Leicester where she is doing an MBA in finance. The residency involves supporting the University’s incubator clients and working from the Leicester Innovation Hub. The MBA will further help her work with women, BAME founders and other under-represented founders with investment planning.
Pictures by Beth Walsh Photography.
Top right – Pamela Sharpe in an investment ready workshop. Bottom: L to R Pamela Sharpe with Aruna Bhagwan, Business Gateway Adviser