Firestarters: What we learnt at Startup Culture - Liverpool event
Take me back

What we learned from The Purpose Accelerator-Startup Culture

Firestarters’ new series ‘The Purpose Accelerator,’ concluded with its third and final event; Startup Culture. For this event, we focused on the challenges faced by founders of startup and scaleup businesses across the Liverpool City Region (LCR) and how we can drive regional innovation and growth through supporting startup culture. The Purpose Accelerator series has been sponsored by Gather, who provide advice and support for digital, creative and tech businesses, helping to form a supportive community encouraging development. 

What is ‘Firestarters’ and ‘The Purpose Accelerator’?

Firestarters is a community of change-makers that come together both as individuals and from purpose-driven organisations, to spark positive change and tackle some of the current issues facing the region. Providing a platform that brings together members of the public, private and third sectors, Firestarters works to facilitate discussions and conversations that help towards making a positive impact, through the delivery of live events, both virtual and in-person. 

Consisting of three events, ‘The Purpose Accelerator’ is our newest series, centered around providing advice and support for socially-driven startup and scaleup businesses within the region to access better opportunities and networks of support. ‘Startup Culture’ is the concluding event in the series, bringing together key stakeholders and value-led organisations to build a positive entrepreneurial culture throughout the region. 

Why ‘Startup Culture?’ 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a shifted narrative surrounding business, representing a new era for entrepreneurship. These developments have fueled a shift in the role of social change within the business world, with many organisations making social impact, diversity and inclusion a key priority in the development of new business models and frameworks. 

This changing climate has led to a ‘sink or swim’ circumstance for businesses both locally and nationally, seeing many organisations being left behind to the changing mechanism, or adapt to the new era of business. ‘Startup Culture’ brought together a network of industry experts, business leaders and value-led thinkers within the startup and scaleup communities, to highlight the challenges and opportunities available, through shared experience and valuable insight. 

Why is ‘Startup Culture’ so relevant now? 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, records reveal that across the Liverpool City Region over 4,700 new businesses were founded between March and December 2020. This gave the region the title of 7th most successful ‘hotspot’ lockdown startup businesses. Due to the rapidly changing social climate, a large majority of these businesses were built as purpose-driven organisations, striving to tackle social and cultural issues surrounding governmental approaches to COVID-19 ordinance and a decline in equitable ways of life. 

The region has responded by developing a range of programmes and resources designed to provide support for the new era of entrepreneurs in the growth of their value-led enterprises. Initiatives such as LCR Founders, brought together by a recent collaboration between Liverpool John Moores University and the Baltic CIC, alongside Startup Grind’s Tech Expansion Programme have been innovative and groundbreaking in its approach to supporting entrepreneurs across the region. Nonetheless, founders of startup and scaleup businesses are still facing many challenges, including obtaining funding and accessing a network of support to fuel growth and innovation. 

What we discussed at ‘Startup Culture’ 

The event provided a platform for value-driven entrepreneurs, industry leaders and business leads to deliberate the question “How do we help fuel purpose-driven growth and innovation by supporting startup culture in the Liverpool City Region?” 

We heard from a panel of four industry experts at the event: 

In true Firestarters style, the event commenced with a panel Q+A, where we got to hear expert insight from our guest speakers. We came to Jonathon Clark first, who began by discussing his experience of startup culture within the Liverpool City Region and how this differs to other areas. He also shared his insight into opportunities for change and how we make this visible. 

For its size, we (Liverpool City Region) are good in some metrics. We punch above our weight in social change companies.

The things we are good at, we’re incredible at.

Jonathon Clark- GDPR Defender/Startup Grind/Angel Investor


Next, we came to Waf Njonjo-Shaw, an Innovation Coach for LCR founders who works to support young entrepreneurs at university and graduate levels. Waf shared her knowledge of the challenges and obstacles facing young founders in creating and developing their enterprises. 

One of the main challenges for entrepreneurs is getting your business funded.

Young people coming out of university may not have a good credit rate or a strong network to tap into.

Waf Njonjo-Shaw- LCR Founders

The panel Q+A with our industry experts allowed us to develop key topics of discussion and the frameworks to begin to assess the questions surrounding startup culture and how we demonstrate a positive culture for new entrepreneurs. These discussions were continued with more depth, when the session was split into breakout rooms. Each group was asked to consider the challenges and opportunities across the region, as well as the changes that we need to see in supporting purpose-driven enterprises to expand and evolve. 

What we’ve learned from ‘Startup Culture’ 

Our guest speakers provided valuable insights and demonstrated their experience , which were taken into the breakout sessions and built upon. Within these sessions, a collaborative approach to the discussion was taken, by university students, business leaders across a plethora of sectors and industry experts within these fields. Some of the key points of engagement were: 

  • The challenges surrounding startup culture in the Liverpool City Region and how we can work to overcome them 
  • Regional inequalities in opportunities and how networks of support can be accessed 
  • The opportunities available through programmes, initiatives and funding within the region 
  • Ideas around driving collaboration between purpose-driven organisations to help support local startups 
  • The steps required to create a healthy culture for startup and scaleup enterprises 

We need to rid of this failure mentality, this ‘work to the death’, Silicon Valley-esque culture.

Set the example you want to see, set the culture you want to see.

Vimla Appadoo- Honey Badger/Culture-Shift

What’s next for Firestarters?  

We will be taking key insights and themes from the event and turning them into a report that produces actionable next steps. We’ve already started so many fires in 2022, and it doesn’t end there. We have some exciting events coming up to continue sparking positive change across the region.

Are you ready to be a changemaker? Join our community of Firestarters by signing up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. 
Want to know more about the fires we’ve started? Read our Spark Change report, to learn more about all of the things we did during the first year of Firestarters.