Entrepreneurs empowering entrepreneurs

Niyc Pidgeon
Niyc Pidgeon
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 17 November 2022

It’s always wonderful to re-connect with entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years and to see how much they’ve grown. This happened on Necker recently with a brilliant entrepreneur/psychologist called Niyc Pidgeon.  

Niyc received funding back in 2013 from a Virgin StartUp pilot programme between Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation and Project North East in the north-east of England. The programme inspired us to launch Virgin StartUp across the UK, which has now funded over 5,000 entrepreneurs. At the same time as we were building Virgin StartUp, Niyc began building her wellness brand with help from the loan.

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

Both in their early business days, Virgin StartUp and Niyc worked alongside each other – sharing event invitations and speaking engagement opportunities. This experience helped Niyc find a love and a talent for public speaking, which became a pivotal part of her role as a positive psychology coach. One of these events was an online workshop I joined where we discussed lessons in leadership.

Richard Branson on a Google Meet workshop about leadership
Niyc Pidgeon

With these networking experiences and funding under her belt, Niyc went on to grow her start-up into a global brand that includes online courses, coaching, events, and mentorship to an audience of mostly women entrepreneurs. She also found time to write a best-selling book on positive psychology.

It was so inspiring to hear Niyc speak so passionately about empowering women entrepreneurs, who are typically under-represented and underfunded in the start-up landscape. Indeed, for every 10 new businesses founded by men in the UK, fewer than five are started by women. For the past few years, Virgin StartUp has also been working tirelessly to close this funding gap and has pledged to fund an equal 50/50 split between women and men founders. The team is now very close to its goal, currently funding 44% women founders and 56% men founder through its Start Up Loans. The current Collective Impact programme has 50% women founders and 52% of participants in the London Accelerator programme have been women. Brilliant.

Virgin StartUp's 50:50 funding pledge
Virgin StartUp

Thank you to Virgin StartUp, Niyc, and so many others who are working hard to support women entrepreneurs and break down the barriers they face. I’m very much looking forward to our next reunion Niyc!