4 August, 2011 - 12:55 By Tony Quested

Punts, pints and plaudits

The inaugural Springboard Cambridge programme ended with punts, pints and plaudits and as a show of sheer physical stamina combined with intellectual energy I am struggling to find a parallel in business terms.

The team members left 13 weeks older and considerably wiser. Many of them are richer for the experience as they bid to ensure that their funding aspirations follow suit.

They have been able to pick the brains of some of the best mentors in the business and the daily grind will prove good preparation for what lies ahead.

No-one ever gets a free ride in business. The most experienced entrepreneurs and established companies can sail through glory years only to wake up one day to find challenges they thought they had long left behind.

Setbacks have come with the territory for the best of leaders through history. It is not recorded, but during his starving Army’s retreat from Moscow, Napoleon must surely have thought at some point: “If only I’d brought a packed lunch.”

And what a show of faith from Noah. It wasn’t even raining when he started to build the ark. That’s what having friends in high places can do for you.

The Springboard Cambridge teams may be swept away by wave after wave of problems. Or they could find themselves in a high, dry sanctuary with their best years yet to come in a brighter world.

Whatever fate awaits them, this bunch are bright and tough enough to endure. It has been a pleasure to know them and, if it is any comfort, we are here if they need any help in the future.

Programme director Jon Bradford will be coming back to Cambridge with Springboard next year and hopes to add a second programme in the UK, although that won’t be Cambridge.

His nous, energy and inspiration, superbly supported by the ingenuity and effervescence of Jess Williamson, created an impressive template. Their efforts also provided an object lesson for any entrepreneurs climbing out of bed in the morning wondering why they bother.

This was one Springboard that appears to have had plenty of bounce.

Newsletter Subscription

Stay informed of the latest news and features