Our story so far...
Who are The Rebel school?
When co-founder Alan Donegan went to a traditional business support service to get help with his business idea, the experience almost put him off starting a business. And he doesn’t mind us saying he is white, middle-class, private school educated, has loads of ideas, is very resource full, and has a supportive family. If the traditional approach puts this guy off, imagine what it does for the rest of us!
In 2008, Alan’s three-page letter of complaint landed on the desk of Glenn Atherfold, the guy responsible for procuring the Business Link service on behalf of the government in the south-east. The managing director of Business Link, a lovely lady called Deborah received the letter from Glenn and walked around the office one bright September afternoon, looking for a fall guy. Yes she needed someone to go and deal with this difficult and slightly unusual complaining customer.
Ah, Simon,” she said finding him skulking in the corner of the office and trying to avoid her eye contact. Later that week co-founders Simon Paine met Alan for coffee in Winchester for what was to become the beginning of a movement to democratise entrepreneurship.
What Simon had predicted would be the worst meeting of the year, turned out to be the best meeting of the decade as they swapped ideas, knowledge and opportunities. Alan shared his experience of business and entrepreneurship and infected Winchester Starbucks with energy and positivity, Simon told him to read Tim Ferriss’ first novel ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ and shared his experience of Danish business school ‘Kaos Pilot’ and the journey began.
Simon had been coaching grassroots start-ups in disadvantaged communities across the south-east and knew that business plans didn’t help anyone. Alan knew that the only way to know if a business idea was going to work was to sell.
The Rebel School
They wanted to set up an alternative business school that was the complete opposite of traditional business schools. To become the only one in the world where you could earn back the cost of tuition in the first few months of attending and instead of paying £25K+ for a piece of paper, you actually make money and leave the school experience with a trading business. They explored sponsorship opportunities with IBM and looked at a couple of buildings but quickly realised that the size of the investment needed meant that they would need money to start.
So they followed the Rebel Business School's methodology:
How could they adjust the idea and get started in profit? That’s where The Rebel School was born. Since 2011, Alan, Simon and their team have been travelling the UK and other parts of the world delivering Rebel Business Schools, which consist of 5 or 10 full-day sessions supporting people in to self-employment and teaching them how to set up
a business for free.
Over the past decade, The Rebel School have been able to support over 17,000 people via the Rebel courses, delivered live and in communities supported by local housing associations and councils. Just imagine: free alternative business advice, delivered with compassion and energy to empower people to change their lives, right on your doorstep.
This brings us towards the present day: As of 2021 the original Rebel School concept was finally out-grown. With a little bit of help (and negative encouragement) from the COVID-19 pandemic, the team very quickly learned how to deliver the same, high-impact, intensive and life changing courses online to the same communities. With online access at people’s fingertips, the number of attendees they could reach grew, the number of courses they could run increased and the speed at which the mission could be achieved grew ever higher with each course that went by. The Rebel School was no longer just popping up, they were here to stay.
Culture and Value
The world has changed. Business has changed. How we empower people to get started needs to change, urgently.
The reason we exist
The biggest barriers to getting a business started are: fear, money, and know-how. The traditional approach to getting started teaches business plans, how to access finance, and the legal requirements. The existing start-up support available doesn’t meet the needs of most people, it doesn’t remove people's barriers, it compounds them.
At the Rebel Business School, we teach a sales-based start-up model, teaching people how to launch an ‘experiment’ for little or no money to test their ideas. We have presenters and a support team with real business experience to deliver our free, live courses, both online and in-person within communities.
Our events are engaging, fun and for many, they are life changing. We deliver the information, inspiration, and practical help people need in order to take action. We find sponsors and create local partnerships to ensure that anyone can attend, free of charge. No one has ever paid to attend a course.
Other business support offers exclude people at a disadvantage and some only support those who get chosen. There are no barriers to our courses, in fact, it attracts the people who need it. We are inclusive. We help anyone and everyone who wants to make progress regardless of their situation.
We relentlessly support pre-starts, start-ups, and those that who started but are struggling. We are here for the artists and creatives, the micro-enterprises and lifestyle businesses, the makers, the side hustles, the disadvantaged, and the triers. To give them a voice and the direction they need to move forward.
Do the opposite