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Cta Man
 LGOWIT

LGOWIT

How Pathfinder helped to create a commercially-successful social enterprise from a charity

LGOWIT

Background

LGOWIT (Let’s Get On With It Together) was established in 2011 to provide ongoing support for people living with long-term health conditions. While support existed for specific conditions, the founders noticed a lack of general support, and wanted to assist anyone of any age living with a chronic condition. Over the years, LGOWIT has built up a range of support which includes groups, training courses, forums, toolkits and community networkers.

In 2019, LGOWIT developed e-learning modules based on its face-to-face programmes and realised that these might have commercial potential. Their challenge was how to spin off a commercially-focused entity from a project rooted in the third sector.

It was against this context that project leads Sodi Kakouris and Joanne McCoy were accepted onto the 2019 Pathfinder Accelerator cohort.

Bringing 20 years’ commercial experience, Sodi had joined HTSI as Project E-learning Specialist in 2018, with little experience of the third sector. In contrast, Project Manager, Joanne, had worked in the sector for 18 years.

“It was never a conflict but sometimes I didn’t understand where Joanne was coming from and vice versa,” says Sodi. “From day one of Pathfinder, Joanne began to gain some commercial insight while I learned to understand the third sector better. Joanne started to look at opportunities that came up as ways to sustain the organisation to make it less reliant on public funding. “From that point on, we started developing our ideas.”

The Workshop

It wasn’t all plain sailing, however. LGOWIT was not a separate legal entity and was restricted in the funding it could bid for. In 2013, Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI) took over the hosting of the LGOWIT project which was managed by a partnership of public, private and third sector organisations. HTSI’s constitution prevented LGOWIT from bidding for commercial business, too.

“The workshops really helped us explore the best route for setting up a new entity,” says Sodi. “We consulted with the legal and accounting experts before creating a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation), Myself-Management, with LGOWIT as the trading arm.” Sodi and Joanne spent the remaining months on Pathfinder focusing on how to bring their product to the corporate market.

“The mentors really helped us hone our pitch,” says Sodi. “They questioned everything, such as our price point, to make sure we’d done our research.

“It would definitely have taken longer to get our pitch right without their input. Everyone on the cohort had to give a weekly presentation so by the final panel presentation we had ours down to a fine art.”

These shared experiences created a strong bond among participants, which Sodi says exists to this day: “We received so much peer support. It was invaluable to see how other companies do things. There was real camaraderie.

“Contact with our mentors persists, too. We regularly go to them for feedback.”

 

We got a huge amount out of participating and it really built up our confidence in promoting our business commercially
Sodi Kakouris, Project E-learning Specialist, LGOWIT

 LGOWIT

Expectations exceeded

Since completing the programme, LGOWIT has received Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund support to build e-learning modules focused on Self Management in Challenging Times. The organisation continues to expand its public sector client base while making in-roads with the corporate market.

“We’re running a paid-for pilot with one public body. If that’s successful it’ll be rolled out nationally,” says Sodi. “And we’re approaching corporates with a programme which assesses their workforce and puts in place a management system for those living with long-term conditions, helping minimise work days lost.”

Having seen their commercial plans start to come to fruition, Sodi and Joanne are huge advocates of the Pathfinder programme.

“It was a great experience,” says Sodi. “The right advice for us at the right time.

“We got a huge amount out of participating and it really built up our confidence in promoting our business commercially.”

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ABOUT PATHFINDER AND THE NORTHERN INNOVATION HUB

Pathfinder is a Northern Innovation Hub-supported business growth programme delivered over six months by world-class coaches.

To find out more about Pathfinder, visit: https://www.hie.co.uk/support/browse-all-support-services/pathfinder-accelerator/

Pathfinder Accelerator is a programme delivered by the Northern Innovation Hub. This is part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal - a joint initiative supported by £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and University of the Highlands and Islands. This programme also receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Innovation strategic intervention.

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