#EnterpriseFinals Meet the Mentor: Ian Renouf-Watkins


Hartpury’s annual Enterprise Finals are back for 2023 with a fresh batch of students ready to pursue an array of entrepreneurial ideas.

The competition is organised by Hartpury’s Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) Centre - an integral part of college and university life helping students with job applications and interviews while they’re at Hartpury and even after they graduate. The Enterprise service is an extension of Hartpury’s Information Advice and Guidance service, which internationally accredited to the matrix Standard and supports students to make future pathway decisions beyond Hartpury.

Ian Renouf-Watkins, Managing Director of Renouf Wealth Management, is a valued supporter of Hartpury University and Hartpury College, and a mentor for the annual Enterprise Finals.

We find out why Ian was keen to get involved with the initiative and how he feels about his business’ relationship with Hartpury.

“I was first asked to be part of the Enterprise Finals three years ago. Simon Spooner, Head of Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) at Hartpury asked whether I’d be happy to be a panellist and potential mentor for the event that provides a superb opportunity for students to present their entrepreneurial business ideas and potential start-ups. I immediately said yes.

“I run a wealth management firm whose relationship with Hartpury University and Hartpury College now spans many years, and the opportunity to be able to help students with their business ideas seemed like something I could really add value to.

“The relationship is a varied one and I’ve been delighted to help with everything from the provision of financial advice surgeries for Hartpury staff through to our recent sponsorship of the prestigious women’s rugby pathway, part of the Kick Start campaign. We’ve previously supported the Gloucester-Hartpury women’s rugby team, too.”

You don’t need to look far to see Ian’s passion for supporting Hartpury students with their sporting ambitions or to see his company’s community and charitable involvements. The Renouf Wealth Management website features a team photograph of Hartpury’s women in their branded kit as well as examples of his support for organisations including The Gloucester Rugby Community Charity and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

He goes on to say: “Our partnership with Hartpury is motivated by my desire to support a local institution of national excellence that has a profound and positive impact on our community.

“I enjoy supporting the next generation, whether that be as they pursue their sporting ambitions or with setting up a business.

“I found the experience of my first Enterprise Finals immediately inspiring and fulfilling. Initially, I was a part of a panel of business leaders tasked with assessing the students’ varied and inventive business ideas to award some seed capital or expenses to help them turn their ideas into reality.”

Around £6,000 is shared between the finalists to help them get their idea off the ground, provided as part of the Enterprise launchpad.

“We were then asked to follow and, in some part, mentor the successful students’ endeavours. Picture a supportive Dragon’s Den approach, followed by ongoing assistance to some of the students and their business ideas. We’ve seen some wonderful ideas over a relatively short time.

“From a high-end personal shopping and concierge service for professional sports men and women through to George Paul’s incredible community interest company that’s striving to make rugby accessible to boys and girls from all backgrounds.”

George Paul, a third-year BA (Hons) Sports Business Management student at Hartpury University and former Enterprise finalist, co-founded the non-profit AdviceAcademy to begin levelling the playing field in rugby. George along with his business partner Will Jones will host their first rugby camp from 20-22 February 2023, a free-to-attend event for 14-16-year-olds who do not have access to academy structures or fee-paying school programmes.

Ian was assigned as George’s business mentor and has followed his progress over the past year. However, the level of support required for each finalist varies.

“In terms of ongoing mentoring and our involvement, this is genuinely driven by students themselves. Some are more collaboratively minded than others and some are simply so driven or self-reliant that mentoring is more of a sounding board and an ‘arm around the shoulder’, rather than the provision of practical business suggestions or regular and intensive non-executive support.

“That said, it can of course be all those things and more for some. It’s important to identify the student’s needs from the outset and not to define our role as mentor too narrowly. This allows the student to gradually tap into our strengths intuitively as the relationship evolves.

“Use of our own network and support via business social media – LinkedIn for example, can be important to some, while others just greatly appreciate the ability to be able to ask any question they wish and to request support, opinions, or use of our time.

“In all cases, the students’ drive, passion, determination, and resourcefulness has been awe-inspiring and energising.

“I can’t wait to see what the class of 2023 have in store.”


Picture: Ian Renouf-Watkins, Managing Director of Renouf Wealth Management