Alan Donegan: PopUp Business School Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Financially Independent Pizza Lover, Marvel Movie fan and soon to be Script Writer
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How could I get money from wealthy organisations and companies to help those that needed it the most?
Applying Robin Hood's principles
The first ever course we ran at PopUp Business School was in Weston Super Mare back in 2012. 45 people came to the event we ran in a strange industrial building on the Bourneville Estate in Weston. We ran a 2 week PopUp Business School covering how to build a business with no money, how to build a website for free and how to get your first customer and NOT a single person paid to come!
Actually it is harder to get people to turn up to a free event than it is a paid event but that is a completely different story!
People are always shocked to find out that the PopUp Business School's courses are completely free! They start to think; well if it is free it can't be any good or when are they going to upsell me the $20k coaching course? They do wonder why the course is free until they turn up and meet us. The upsell never happens, the course is life changing and they are genuinely surprised to find out it is free for all.
Free for ALL has been one of the most important things for me to hold onto as a founder or PopUp. Over the years there has been lots of pressure to charge people, to support different groups, to discriminate and say it is only open to X group. When I was first going to get support starting my own business there was support for under 25s, support for women, support for black entrepreneurs but very little support for me and that really wound me up and inspired a lot of the decisions to make sure the course was free but also free to ALL.
All of our courses ever since the first course in Weston have been free for anyone in the local communities, free for the people that need it the most. This year 2300 people came through the PopUp Business School courses and not a single person that attended the courses paid for it! I am SO proud of this. We built 900+ businesses and helped empower people to make their own income and we did all this for the people that needed it the most at no cost! But you are not naïve! You know it takes money to put these events on, where does the money come from? Who pays?
My desire has always been for the courses and support to be free so I have worked to go out and find people to buy the courses so I can give them away. We have managed to get money from wealthier organisations and use that money to give the service away for free to those that need it the most.
This is what I have nicknamed the Robin Hood Business Model. I have seen it before in lots of different ways and in different areas and this is inspired by lots of people before me; I have taken what they have done and built on it.
So who actually pays? Currently the PopUp Business School is funded by 3 main groups:
Let's make one thing very clear here! I don't actually steal cash from these institutions as Robin Hood did! I ask nicely! I persuade and I work with them to get their support to truly help people. I am not very good with a bow and arrow!
Who do we traditionally work with?
When it is published I will put the 2018 PopUp Business School report here but for now we work mainly with the following groups:
Couldn't afford it...….
Most of the people we help couldn't actually afford to come to our events if we had to charge market rate for them. You pay $1000s to go to training events normally and we wanted ours to be open and available to all. So we had to work to get the cash to be able to give it away to anyone that wanted to come.
I always wanted anyone to be able to come along and get the education, get the advice and work with us even if they were in debt, had no money or couldn't afford it.
That is not to say that people who can afford to come don't get it for free either. I wanted it to be free to all and not means tested, not discriminated, not only for certain groups.
There is magic in the diversity of the groups that comes along and because it is free for all it leads to this diversity. You have a 15 year old sat next to a 70 year old looking to top up his pension, you have unemployed people next to someone with money and wealth, you have every ethnic origin in the room and this group of people come together all working on the same goal which is to build their own income and business. It creates an incredible atmosphere of collaboration and support for each other and breaks down all sorts of cultural barriers. The is magic in the diversity of having different people coming together to work on their own businesses rather than just having women, or just young or old.
Our overall mission is the "Democratisation of Entrepreneurship" and the first step for us on that mission has been to find the money to be able to give it all away for free to anyone who wants to work to build the own income or business.
If you go to University or College for a business or MBA you end up $100,000 in debt, if you go to the larger entrepreneurial courses online or physically you pay $3,000 + and way up to $25,000+ for an entrepreneurial course. it is expensive to learn this stuff and people pay a fortune.
Education is EXPENSIVE and in a lot of ways very elitist and I have never liked that. I have and the PopUp Business School are working to Democratise Entrepreneurship and make the best Entrepreneurial training free and available to all.
The Robin Hood Business Model is how we have achieved this so far. Partnering with some incredible businesses who pay four our work so that it is free and available to all!
On that note if you want to come to a PopUp Business School Event you can find them here! We would love to welcome you to one of our entrepreneurial courses and help you build a business and make money doing something you love!