Bristol is an AMAZING city for startups. We’re often named as one of (if not the) fasting growing startups hubs in the UK and with such an awesome creative culture, it’s no wonder.

In this series of posts, we’re going to introduce you to the people, organisations and events pioneering the startup movement in Bristol and the South-West.

First up – mentors.

With a number of accelerators, incubators, startup competitions and other innovative creative and technological initiatives, Bristol has its fair share of experienced mentors who are happy to help out the next generation of entrepreneurs. Here’s a selection of the best startup mentors in Bristol and the South-West…

Rosie Bennett

Entrepreneur in Residence, SETsquared

RosieBennettRosie is the Founder of ITGirls Collaborative, a network of founders, freelancers and tech industry professionals, as well as being the Co-Founder of storage startup

She’s also an Entrepreneur in Residence for SETSquared, helping high-growth startups based in the University of Bath Innovation Centre. So far, Rosie has worked with numerous companies including Ordable, EZ Education, Intro, Lux Rewards, Smart Antenna Technologies, Green Running and many more.

Rosie was nominated for Best Mentor at the SPARKies awards in 2016.

Connect with Rosie: LinkedIn | Twitter

Tessa Cook

Co-Founder, OLIO

TessaWith significant corporate experience at Dyson and EMAP, Tessa co-founded award winning food sharing app OLIO in February 2015.

Tessa sits on the board of several companies and is a mentor on Wayra, Telefonica’s startup accelerator. Through Wayra, Tessa is mentoring nCube Home – a remote control for heating, hot water, lighting and anything else you can plug in at home.

Connect with Tessa: LinkedIn | Twitter

Mike Jackson

Founder, Webstart Bristol

MikeJacksonMike founded tech incubator Webstart Bristol in 2014 and has helped dozens of startups get off the ground including IdeaSquares, Habu, Daredevil Project and Wriggle.

Mike was listed as one of the top 100 leaders of Tech Accelerators worldwide and in the 2016 Maserati100 list.

Connect with Mike: LinkedIn | Twitter

James Routley

Co-Founder, South West Founders | CEO, The Filter

JamesRoutleyCurrently CEO at Bath-based retail experiences company The Filter, James co-founded the South West Founders meetup – the biggest and best meetup for tech founders in Bristol – back in 2010.

James’s passion is for early stage startups (as well as playing in his band) and he says his strength is “creating and executing the business plan for innovative high growth businesses, and leading from the front.”

James has mentored startups before through both Seedcamp and South West Founders. He’s currently looking for opportunities to join one or two startups as a Non-Executive Director.

Connect with James: LinkedIn | Twitter

John Grinham

Founder, OD2

John started working as a researcher and research manager working on high speed computer networks and real-time systems within Hewlett Packard’s research labs in the 1980s. On the side he also started two companies which got off the ground but didn’t fully fledge.

In 2000 John co-founded OD2, a digital music startup, which, via a long and tortuous road, exited to Nokia for $60M in 2006.

Since leaving Nokia in 2010 he has worked as a consultant to a VC and currently mentors at SetSquared and the Pervasive Media Studio – an art and tech focussed research studio within the Watershed.

John’s always up for meeting with and helping new entrepreneurs and startups. You can usually find him at South West Founders.

Connect with John: LinkedIn

Greville Commins

Entrepreneur in Residence, SETSquared

grevillecomminsWith a strong product and tech marketing background (including marketing at Intel and STMicroelectronics), Greville founded his first business in 1982 and has been mentoring startups since 2001.

Greville is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence for SETsquared and has held Non-executive Director positions in a number of tech startups. He also lectures on Enterprise at the University of Bristol and guest lectures on the University of Bath MBA programme.

Greville was shortlisted for Best Mentor at the 2016 SPARkies awards.

Connect with Greville: LinkedIn | Twitter

Jill Burnett

Innovation Manager, Bristol Robotics Laboratory

jillburnettFormerly High Growth & Innovation Adviser at Business West and Enterprise Manager at the University of the West of England, Jill is currently a mentor at SETsquared and business management consultant.

Jill’s specialities are R&D project planning, funding, strategy, tech startups and innovation projects.

Jill is the winner of Best Mentor at the 2016 SPARKies awards.

Connect with Jill: LinkedIn

Marissa Ellis

Director, Curve Consulting

MarissaEllisMarissa has a strong history in product management and runs a consultancy offering strategy and business planning, coaching, mentoring, product management and more.

Marissa also plenty of experience mentoring startups, having been involved with WebStart Bristol, Virgin StartUp, Bristol Young Talent Ltd, the Mogwai Foundation and Working Knowledge.

As well as strong tech startup skills, Marissa has loads of experience in financial services, education, the voluntary sector, defence and enterprise software.

Connect with Marissa: LinkedIn

Mark Panay

Co- Founder and MD, Simpleweb

markMark helps entrepreneurs and corporate teams deliver world class products, both formally at Simpleweb and informally. Mark’s specialties include product management, product marketing, digital internal comms and simplifying technology.

Mark founded a number of tech startups over the years, has been a Trustee on several boards (he is currently a Trustee at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatres) and worked with dozens of founders through Simpleweb.

Connect with Mark: LinkedIn | Twitter

Les Freeland

Non Executive Director, W2 Global Data

Les FreelandLes is a serial entrepreneur with a comprehensive history in the technology industry. He is currently a Non-Executive Director at W2 Global Data, Survey Wizard Solutions and Non-Executive Chairman at Simpleweb.

Les loves working with tech startups and specialises in enterprise software, SaaS and business strategy.

Connect with Les: LinkedIn

Rick Chapman

High Tech Sector Specialist, Invest Bristol and Bath

RickChapmanRick has nearly 30 years of experience working in high tech industries, predominantly Semiconductors and Software. Rick is the High Tech Sector Specialist at Invest Bristol and Bath, an Entrepreneur in Residence at SETSquared and Director of SW Microelectronics iNet.

Rick also runs his own consultancy working with startups to bridge the gap between technology, innovation and business, offering support with business development, technology roadmaps, and rapid growth.

Connect with Rick: LinkedIn | Twitter

Seth Jackson

Founder, Strange Thoughts

SethjacksonSeth started his career in mobile and is currently working to revolutionise the way brands utilise creative technology with his company Strange Thoughts.

Seth’s specialties include creative technology, music sponsorship and enablement, brand partnerships, Apps, YouTube Creators Brand Integration, experiential, mobile marketing, live, endorsement and is a self proclaimed fan of crazy shit.

Seth had previously mentored with WebStart Bristol and is an Industry Partner at the Pervasive Media Studio.

Connect with Seth: LinkedIn | Twitter

Dave Norris

Co-Founder, Many Who | Ex VP of Sales Salesforce

davenorrisWith a strong background in technology roles, Dave has worked in fast growing software companies for 20 years, selling one company to Salesforce.

Dave spent 3 years as the VP of sales at Salesforce, before co-founding ManyWho – a cloud platform to help companies build apps for the touch revolution; connected to their business data – in 2013.

Dave’s specialties include both sales and professional services. He also has experience both both trade sale and flotation events. He is currently on the mentor panel at SETsquared.

Connect with Dave: LinkedIn


This is not an exhaustive list. If you think we’ve missed anyone, email Kylie and we’ll get you added 🙂

If you’re looking for startup support in Bristol and the South-West, get in touch with Simpleweb today and we’ll point you in the right direction.

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