Peter Mountford is the Chairman of Heropreneurs, a unique UK registered charity that was founded in 2009 to help military veterans, and their dependants, on the road to creating their own businesses. At the heart of Heropreneurs is its highly effective Mentoring Programme – all its mentors are successful entrepreneurs and business people who give their time entirely for free.
But they don’t believe in starting businesses for the sake of it. With government statistics stating that on average 50% of new businesses fail each year, everyone involved in the mentoring programme takes their responsibilities very seriously. Mentors operate as “Non-Executive Chairmen”, challenging the approach that the members take and being as supportive as possible, whilst at the same time deterring people from creating their own ventures where it would be more appropriate for them to seek employment elsewhere.
The access to well established entrepreneurs that the mentoring programme provides is invaluable, especially to Armed Forces Veterans who may not have been able to build a corporate network during their time serving. It also means that the spouse, who may have fallen behind in the business world, can extend her own network through the links that the mentor has. For the mentor it’s an interesting and rewarding thing to do. Peter talks of the respect that others have for members of the Armed Forces and their families, and how happy these mentors are to get involved. He mentions that he’s rarely turned down when he approaches a new mentor to help the charity, and that successful Heropreneurs have themselves become mentors as their business have succeeded.
Peter believes that this sort of face-to-face mentoring is the best way to develop ideas for business. Most of the mentoring candidates have potentially worked out answers to their questions, but the benefit of being able to discuss and re-evaluate with an established business leader is inestimable.
As well as running the Mentoring Programme and doing some mentoring himself, Peter is also the Chairman of The Veterans’ Foundation. This charity was formed to provide financial support to other military charities that struggle to raise their own funding, and is partly financed through the Veterans’ Lottery.
The Veterans’ Lottery donates more than 50% of ticket sales to UK charities through a series of grants. So far 50 charities have benefitted and in the next 12 months he expects that there will be over £1milion donated through the Veterans’ Foundation.
The Veterans’ Foundation is very well received and has showcased the work it’s doing through a social media campaign featuring John White, Stuart Hill and Steve McCully who have created a series of online videos that have been viewed over 8k times. You can find the videos HERE and see the important work that the Veterans’ Foundation is doing.
Peter himself is a successful chairman, financier, and active investor. He has been on the board of many companies and is a specialist in providing strategic advice. He is also one of the UK’s experts in IPOs and has floated 3 of the most successful companies ever floated on the Alternative Investment Market.
I first met Peter at a Heropreneurs event which you can read about HERE, and I was pleased to see such an established business leader championing our cause. Stuart Nichol, also a volunteer at Heropreneurs, runs the on-the-ground networking groups which are advertised through Eventbrite. The events are always hosted in grand locations and bring together all sections of Armed Forces society, may that be tri-service veterans, the spouse, or corporates interested in supporting the Armed Forces community in business. Heropreneurs also run “Dragons’ Den” days which have recently been sponsored by Goldman Sachs. These events provide in-depth analysis of a member’s business based on their pitch. They are not about pitching for investment but are about giving advice and creating networking opportunities.
On 14 November 2018, Heropreneurs will be celebrating the achievements of members with the Heropreneurs Awards in association with the Telegraph. The Awards are run with the support of the Warwick Business School, Goldman Sachs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Veterans’ Foundation. The Judges for the Awards are all high profile and exceptional people, including retired 4 star General Sir John McColl, Paddy Ashdown, and Deborah Meaden amongst many others. The Rt. Honourable Tobias Ellwood MP, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, will be presenting the top award.
Peter and I also discussed the place of the spouse in business. Military spouses have a unique series of challenges when running their own business. The constant relocation and the pressures of raising a family while living the ‘magnolia wall life’ is well known to Peter. He has mentored many spouses in business and appreciates that that resilience of a spouse parallels the resilience that is drilled into personnel while serving. He agreed that we can achieve many things as spouse business owners and Heropreneurs can certainly help us.
Meeting Peter was a brilliant opportunity. I was initially overwhelmed meeting this exceptional entrepreneur, especially as I was interviewing him in person. But what I found was a very genuine man, with a wealth of experience that he is willing to share. His knowledge of business life is second to none, and he should be very proud of the work he does with Stuart Nichol at Heropreneurs and as Chairman of the Veterans’ Foundation.
There’s no better testament than the fact that a man of such business prestige didn’t think twice about making me lunch while our meeting ran into the afternoon – and he makes a half decent cuppa too!
Thank you, Peter, for sharing your time with me to record this episode. You can find the recording HERE.