Rick Chapman, Entrepreneur in Residence: Never the same day twice…

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Rick Chapman

As an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at SETsquared Bristol, I usually work one day a week sandwiched between other projects and companies I work with. However, I often describe it as the most fun day of my week and I’d like to explain why. 

Rick Chapman, Entrepreneur-in-ResidenceFirstly, every day with SETsquared is different. My role as EiR requires me to be different things at different times. Sometimes I’m working with one of our members as a coach, sometimes in a mentoring capacity, and sometimes just as a friendly ear. Occasionally I’m the enforcer, ensuring they have made the progress expected, or I’m the analyst trying to diagnose what went wrong. And sometimes, and most excitingly, I’ll need to wear at least three of those hats in a single, one hour session! 

Secondly, while each of our members is clearly different, the challenges they face do have a high degree of commonality. Whether that be product-market fit, growth strategies, governance issues or raising finance. When you combine those common issues with each member’s uniqueness, e.g., their product, their market or their team, you need to develop a bespoke set of answers. 

Throw into that mix that the world we operate in is ever changing around them, with an evolving ecosystem and macro-economic changes, not to mention the odd pandemic, and this keeps the challenge fresh for me too.  

Sometimes I wish I could dole out the same advice to each company, but it’s that unique melange that motivates and excites me, and one of the reasons I love this day each week. And then, on top of all that variety and excitement, you get the occasional curve ball, like my colleague of many years, Grev Commins, deciding to retire… 

This has precipitated changes to our EiR team. We were already in the process of onboarding one new EiR, Anna-Lisa Wesley, to increase our capacity and bring in a fresh perspective. It’s key that as a team of EiRs we constantly evolve and develop, and Anna-Lisa is already bringing new approaches and experience into the way we are working with ventures. But now we also have a pending gap to fill and Grev wore big boots with lots of experienced miles walked. 

So we are adding two more new members to our EiR team, which will bring our team up to four from August 2021. This is fantastic; the new EiRs will bring their own unique experience and new depth. That can only benefit the members of SETsquared Bristol. But, as with any change, it also brings its own challenge.  

Grev and I worked side by side as EiRs for nearly nine years, and we’ve worked together outside of SETsquared since the last millennium! In that time, we developed mutual respect, trust, a deep understanding of each other’s strengths and capabilities, and how we complement each other to provide a better overall service to our members.   

All EiRs have different backgrounds, and the next few months will be all about getting to know each other to learn how we complement our skillsets. Tuckman wrote about teams forming, storming, norming and performing back in the sixties; as a group we will now be following our own coaching advice to create a truly impactful EiR team and aim even higher 

I’d like to wish Grev a long and happy retirement and, alongside Anna-Lisa, also welcome to the EiR team Stewart Noakes and Olivia Champion. 

I know we will all rise to the challenge and continue to offer world class business support. I suspect this new challenge will ensure my SETsquared days will remain fascinating, rewarding and fun for a long time to come. 


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