Bubble Enterprises specialises in delivering skills and knowledge to startups and spin-off ventures. Based in Greater Manchester, we work with clients across the North West of England and beyond – from individuals and organisations of all kinds in the third sector to commercial companies requiring entrepreneurial expertise.
“Whether it’s equipping you with business skills or growth strategies, we will work with you and your organisation to turn your idea into a profitable business.”
Our startup story
Like all businesses, Bubble started life as an idea. A trio of business professionals with experience in running our own ventures, the Bubble founders came up with an idea to create a business incubator providing early stage business support to individuals and organisations.
Throughout our careers we’d witnessed firsthand just how beneficial business support can be for startups. We wanted to be instrumental in helping fledgling ventures stay in business for the long term. In 2001 we approached Manchester Business School with our idea and soon after, we successfully launched Manchester Business School’s Incubator and our business, Bubble Partnership.
We quickly realised that entrepreneurial skill sets could also be applied within communities, providing opportunities for individuals on the margins of society to take control of their own futures. This led to the creation of sister business Bubble Enterprises CIC and the Bubble Enterprise Engagement Programme – an initiative aimed at budding entrepreneurs and startups facing significant challenges.
Since the programme started out, we’ve helped more than 1,750 people explore enterprise opportunities, with many going on to start their own businesses. We’re passionate about making a difference to communities – both economically and socially, which is why we commit to work with many of our entrepreneurs and organisations throughout the life of their business.
Meet our people
Dr Leigh Wharton – Director
Leigh is a founding Director of both Bubble Partnership Ltd and Bubble Enterprises CIC. He specialises in providing consultancy services for high-growth clients, as well as supporting individuals and organisations starting or developing new business ventures.
Areas of expertise range from preparing companies for market entry and assisting with initial sales to helping businesses maximise investment and growth.
Leigh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), Manufacture and Commerce and a former member of the North West Development Agency Business Angels Network advisory team, which provided guidance and support services for entrepreneurs seeking informal investment.
Previous clients include Jepson Holt Ltd, Pixie Children’s Wear Ltd, UK Plumbing Supplies (Finagold Ltd), Ask A Price LLP, Gentry Grooming Company Ltd, Stringsta Ltd and Martin Conquest Ltd.
Belinda Barnard – Director
Belinda heads up Bubble’s cafes and catering operation. The cafes utilise the skills of people with mental health difficulties by providing employment and volunteering opportunities, demonstrating Bubble’s ethos of providing sustainable opportunities for social and economic inclusion.
Previously, Belinda was Managing Director and joint founder of Mica (UK) Ltd, a company which followed a worldwide model of group branding and marketing for independent hardware retailers, which grew to 200 member stores nationwide, with retail sales in excess of £65 million.
Some of the clients Belinda has worked with include Jepson Holt Ltd, Pixie Children’s Wear Ltd, UK Plumbing Supplies (Finagold Ltd), Ask A Price LLP, Gentry Grooming Company Ltd, Stringsta Ltd and Martin Conquest Ltd
Don Phillips – Director and Chair
Don has served as Chairman of Bubble Enterprises since 2007 and is a Non-Executive Director, Consultant and Coach. He has built his experience over 30 years in leadership roles at the cutting edge of the IT industry, working previously for Hewlett-Packard Ltd, Arrow ECS Ltd, Kavanagh Systems Ltd and Theorem Solutions Ltd.
Having also founded, developed and sold intellectual property through his own business Lloyd-Davies Associates Ltd, Don has developed a broad skill set in corporate governance, sales, marketing and operations, underpinned by an extensive knowledge and practical experience of implementing IT systems and processes.
Don takes a keen interest in exploring how sustainable social enterprise and entrepreneurship – particularly alliances with the commercial world – can help mental health service users aid their recovery and achieve social and economic inclusion.
He also serves as a Lay-Member for lived experience and public engagement on the board of Stockports NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.
Katherine Harrington - Catering Manager
Katherine brings a wealth of experience to the catering operations at Bubble’s cafes, having worked in restaurants, schools and contract catering over an extensive career.
Katherine has an HND in hotel catering and institutional management and an ONC in hotel catering and institutional operations. She is also a member of the Institute of Hospitality.