Posted: Tue 20th Sep 2022
StartUp UK is Enterprise Nation's scheme to provide free tailored support to budding entrepreneurs.
Backed by the UK government and high-profile firm Monzo Business, the programme delivers initiatives such as e-learning, online training, national events and flagship annual conferences throughout the UK.
As the scheme continues to run, we're talking to some of the business owners who have been taking part, to hear how it's benefited them so far.
Here, we talk to Naomi Mellor, a podcast host and producer, and founder of The Skylark Collective, a global community for women and non-binary podcasters that supports its members through education, collaboration and celebration. She is also the founder of the International Women's Podcast Awards.
How did you come up with your business idea?
After 11 years as a veterinary surgeon, in 2018 I set myself the twin goals of starting a podcast and running an ultramarathon to give myself a challenge outside of my day job. I started my first podcast, Smashing The Ceiling, that summer, and have subsequently gone on to host and produce several podcasts, with recent clients including Nestlé Purina and Shure.
Having been a part of women's networks in the sporting, digital and veterinary fields for years, I realised that there was no community for women and non-binary podcasters in Europe, and recognised the need for such an organisation to champion, support and develop women and non-binary voices in the podcasting industry.
I launched The Skylark Collective in April 2021 and held the first International Women's Podcast Awards (IWPA) in September of that year. The collective now has nearly 50 members – a brilliant group of supportive, engaged women that is growing month by month – who attend our monthly masterclasses and networking sessions.
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What makes your business stand out? How is it unique?
I've had an unusual career trajectory from being a veterinary surgeon who ventured into podcasting, and am entirely self-taught as a producer and editor. Last year, I was featured in the Metro talking about leaving my "dream" job to do something different, which makes my story a little interesting.
The IWPA is also a unique event. While there are a growing number of podcast awards events worldwide, we're the only one specifically supporting the work of women and non-binary podcasters, aiming to showcase their work and raise their profile.
Podcasting is growing in popularity, with a projected 27% increase in industry size over the next five years. But despite women of colour podcasters being the fastest-growing demographic of host, fewer than 20% of the world's highest grossing podcasts feature at least one woman or non-binary host. At The Skylark Collective, we aim to change that.
You've taken part in Enterprise Nation's StartUp UK programme. What were your reasons for doing it?
I have so many gaps in my knowledge as an entrepreneur, and am looking forward to diving into the StartUp UK resources to learn more about marketing, sales and finance in particular.
I'm planning to attend a Lunch and Learn session soon and am hoping to benefit from some of the deals and offers provided to new business owners in due course.
How have you benefited from the StartUp UK programme so far?
The teaching on the StartUp Saturday event was so valuable, and Billie, our host, imparted loads of nuggets of wisdom. She also gave me time individually to troubleshoot one or two aspects of my business, providing some invaluable advice.
I met some really interesting new business owners too – it was fascinating to see the breadth of entrepreneurship out there and hear about other people's ventures.
Access support to start your business
Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.