FIRST is a network of services committed to connecting young people and startups to their local business community.
Established in 2014, the business has 3 core services:
FIRST Startup – enterprise skill development through workshops, networking events, competitions and business accelerator programmes
FIRST Breakthrough – a youth led matching service connecting 14 – 30 year olds to work placements, jobs, training and qualifications
FIRST Face to Face – an online events resource and networking event management consultancy
We are experts at engaging and communicating with audiences, supporting young people and startups and developing business relationships that are based on best practise, process and results.
Zoe leads on all of FIRST’s business engagement projects including our recently renamed: Startup Awards North East (previously the If We Can You Can Challenge). Zoe loves working with early stage founders to develop their skills, confidence and networking abilities and loves nothing more than speaking with early stage founders to see how FIRST can help them on their journey.
Sam has 20 years experience working across the education and youth sector for school trusts, local councils and national charities. Sam’s passion ensures all of FIRST’s projects create meaningful experiences for young people, early stage founders and young professionals. Sam supports the MD and leads the coordinators to ensure they have the resources and information they need to deliver their projects and contracts to the highest quality standards.
Simon’s responsibilities include delivering and leading all of FIRST’s community learning projects. Currently he is working in developing entrepreneurial skills for 18-29 year olds in North Tyneside through workshops, mentoring and 121 support.
Simon has an exciting career history including presidency at Northumbria Students’ Union and as stand up comic in his spare time!
Alice is an expert in the delivery of young person development projects with a focus on confidence building and empowerment. Key areas of knowledge and training are youth engagement, youth retention, safeguarding and behaviour management with a focus on NEETs, hard-to-reach young people and those with low confidence and anxiety issues. Alice specialises in creating and delivering bespoke enterprise workshops and employability resources for young people aged 11-25. Alice is also responsible for volunteer recruitment and mentoring to support young people to coordinate and deliver projects.
Caroline Theobald CBE
Caroline accepted a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2007 and was awarded the CBE for services to business and entrepreneurship in 2016. She is the chair of FIRST, the co-founder of Gabriel Investors and the independent chair of BQ Live debates on enterprise and entrepreneurship throughout the UK. Caroline has been the honorary consul for Sweden since 2007 and is also the honorary chair of the North East chapter of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce.
Charlotte is passionate about co creating and delivering fun and innovative business activities for startups, young people and junior staff. She does this through her company FIRST where she secures contracts of work, leads the senior team, monitors business processes and ensures clients and participants are happy with the services provided. She is experienced in managing projects for education providers, public bodies and private sector clients; understanding the need for essential policies, procedures and quality output monitoring for publicly funded work. As an established and well connected North East business owner, she is an Enterprise Advisor (as part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s North East Ambition programme) for Newcastle College, sits on the board for the North East Women’s Leadership Advisory Board for Newcastle University and is an entrepreneurial advocate for Gender and Entrepreneurship North East (GENE).
Charlotte is a trustee for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum Development Trust and has extensive knowledge, development and strategy experience for creating and leading large scale, collaborative projects; ensuring startups and young people are at the heart of project designs with purpose and outputs aligned to regional and national priorities.