A message from Claire Bicknell, Founder of Catena.
Two years ago I launched Catena Network, with the clear vision of connecting like minded businesses. My goal was to create a business matchmaking service and transform the way businesses build relationships with each other through a more personalised and strategic approach. Following an incredible reponse, the Catena Network has now grown to a membership of 147 across the Midlands, London and the South West.
I’m delighted to have proven the huge potential for this approach to building more meaningful business connections. I am also proud to have established a business network which benefits local communities, matching significant social value with great business value, having generated commercial transactions of over £400,000 to date. I know there are are many more businesses and organisations out there that we can benefit – with your help. I’m now seeking funding of £11,500 to help us do this and take Catena, UK-wide. I’ve already helped many businesses and organisations to achieve their goal of growing, could you help me achieve mine?
Thank you for taking an interest in supporting Catena. I appreciate that you may be wondering why Catena is different to other types of business networks – and what difference you could make by supporting us. Read on to find out more:
The Business Matchmaker
I’m fortunate to have had a 20 year career in marketing and developing leading SME’s. This has taught me that there is a significant market for business networking with a strategic approach. I wanted to create a network which complemented all the great networking organisations already out there. The traditional business networking model is good for some types of business, but less so for those that prefer a more informal and personal approach. This is why at Catena, we actively facilitate introductions throughout our extensive member database – both on and offline- and assist with follow-up enquiries between members and across regions. We aim to work as a “business matchmaking” service, our events are designed to be informal and focused on nurturing long-term sustainable business relationships instead of the “hard sell”. These events have been hugely popular in London, Nottingham and Bath. To date we have hosted nine quarterly Catena networking events, with 410 attendees, and a futher 201 poeple attending hosted events – in total giving 611 opportunities for business relationships to be formed. Additionaly we have supported private events set up by members, with your help we can take this further! We support these real world, face-to-face connections with a strong online and social media presence through the Catena website and weekly newsletter, we know that we can make these even more effective. Connecting on and offline is a large part of what Catena does, we generate new opportunities in many other ways too, for example, by pro-actively sharing opportunities between members. This could be a last minute chance to collaborate on a group bid, a shared promotional activity or a tender which is an ideal fit for a member. It’s yet another way in which we work to break down barriers to opportuniity, for small and growing businesses.
Getting small businesses closer to large organisations
As everyone in business knows, a common challenge for owners of small businesses is devloping links with decision makers in large organisations. I’m working hard to change this and to make large organisations aware of all that smaller businesses have to offer! This makes Catena as good news for local communities, as it is for member organisations. We already have strong links with County Cricket Clubs, and Universities (we are currently working with the University of Nottingham to highlight their funding opportunities for employers) and a clear strategy for harnessing the extensive potential within these relationships. We also have plans for combining sport and business in an innovative way that will benefit both sectors.
What we want to do next – with your support
I hope that you can now see why Catena is different and how we’re as much about creating opportunities for not-for-profit organisations as we are about fostering profitable business relationships. Your contribution will allow me to continue to support businesses across the country and to breakdown the barriers between industry, sport and education. This is all thanks to the links I already have in place with businesses, County Cricket Clubs and Universities.
Your help will enable:
- Help more businesses achieve their potential
- With so many exceptional businesses seeking new ways to connect with good quality prospects. I’m certain that we can help improve the outlook for many types of companies. With additional funding, we can plan more networking events, venues and speakers futher in advance, making it easier for members to identify and attend the right events for them. Funding will also allow us to offer more event management support to members to host their own events, making Catena even more sustainable.
- Support key sporting organisations
- Building on our strong links with County Cricket Clubs throughout the UK, we will bring businesses and cricket clubs together to mutual advantage. Enabling cricket clubs to host Catena events will allow us to provide them with an additional and non-seasonal income stream and raise their profile with a new audience more quickly than they may otherwise have managed. This will build mutually beneficial links between County Cricket Clubs across the country. It will help Catena to grow quickly and benefit more business owners by offering new networking opportunities and allowing them to connect directly with cricket clubs.
- Create an online networking hub for businesses across the country
- With your support, we’ll be able to update the Catena website, to make it more interactive and increase the number of business connections being made online. This will also allow Catena members to gain insight from events that they’re unable to attend, through a new video podcast function.
- Bring business and education together
- Building on my success to date of engaging with Universities and higher education colleges, your funding will help me create closer links between education and business, to benefit of all. Potential issues we can address include graduate recruitment, placement or work experience and related funding opportunities, research resources, business support and expert advice on both sides. We also hope to continue to offer paid employment and work experience to more university students and interns, having already created this model with interns from the South West and Nottingham.
Help shape our future success!
If like me, you’re passionate about supporting businesses or working with sports or educational organisations, I’d like to invite you to help fund us. I’ve been fortunate to attract many prestigious organisations and partners to Catena, why not come and join us?