Alex Till is the CEO of MENTA; an organisation that delivers services to new, emerging and growing businesses in Suffolk. This month we spoke to Alex to find out more about the support and services that MENTA offers, the advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, and what it means to MENTA to have recently secured its IOEE Academy status.
Alex has had a rich and varied career in the field of enterprise, having lived and travelled extensively in the UK and Europe as he’s built on his wealth of entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. He developed a social enterprise for injured jockeys for the French Racing School in Chantilly, developed business techniques and an efficiencies system for a textile industry in Milan, and supported a range of retail and service organisations in the UK. Originally from Leicester, Alex moved to Suffolk in 1996, where he focused on working with SMEs, joining MENTA as its CEO in 2011. Alex says:
“This is where my passion primarily lies; being able to help businesses grow. Sometimes people just need advice, but we offer a broad range of services, including business skills masterclasses, networking events, seminars, and one on one bespoke business training. Our cost effective, managed work spaces, and virtual offices are popular too.”
First launching in 1984, MENTA has always had a clear mission: to help people start and grow their businesses to ensure the continued thriving prosperity of Suffolk and the Eastern Region. MENTA is a not-for-profit organisation, and although most services are chargeable they are very affordable. Alex says:
“We’re a not-for-profit organisation not a membership organisation. People can pick and mix the business services and resources they need to grow their company.
MENTA has clients who started their enterprise in 1990 and still contact us if they need some advice or support from a non-biased organisation, and we’re able to give them that.”
In addition to delivering business advice, training courses and a personality profiling service the annual MENTA Trade Fair, a B2B exhibition, is in its 9th year and the organisation provides a personality profiling service:
“Our trade fair attracts more than 100 trade stands from a really broad range of different companies and industries.About 600 people come through the doors, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the success of businesses based in Suffolk and what a great place the county is to live and work.”
“We also host monthly networking sessions called Coffee Means Business. They’re relaxed and run mid-morning, so people can just come along with their business cards and grab a coffee and chat to other people from local businesses.”
MENTA also offers more targeted advice to businesses that have passed the initial start-up stage, but need the support and expertise to grow further:
“We work closely with the Suffolk Institute of Directors to deliver a programme called Expert Connections, that’s centred around supporting businesses that are over three years old - they’ve already started to grow and develop, and we put them in touch with directors that can offer them specific knowledge on how to take them to the next level.”
Passionate about what he does, Alex says that he would advise other aspiring entrepreneurs to channel their passion too:
“If I had to give a piece of advice, it would be to really grab the excitement you got when you started up and really believe in your passion, and use these to drive forward with your business.”
MENTA has gained much recognition for its work, including being awarded the National Enterprise Network’s Enterprise Agency of the Year, as well as the Future of Business Support award. In May of this year, Alex was among the winners of the Institute of Director’s 2017 Director of the Year for the East of England. In addition, MENTA has also recently secured its status as an IOEE Academy, and Alex says what this means to him and the organisation:
“Our new IOEE status is absolutely fantastic, it gives us that stamp of credibility so that people can recognise the level of quality in what we deliver, and see that opportunity is there for them through MENTA. It’s also just the beginning of a relationship with the IOEE, and this accreditation enables us to start really looking at how we can work together with an affiliated enterprise organisation.”