Laura Nicolson

Social entrepreneur

' I wanted to do something that was rooted in my community'

Laura is the co-founder of Velocity Café and Bicycle Workshop in Inverness. 

Velocity aims to encourage cycling and healthy living, and also sells its fair share of delicious but 'healthy-ish' cakes!

When she finished her degree in Electronic and electrical engineering Laura went on to research renewable energy and community development in Malawi. A job working on community energy development in Scotland followed.

But her love of bikes inspired her to start a business where she could share that passion with other people.

Combined with her background in community development and her ambition to make a difference in her own area, Velocity was developed as a social enterprise with Laura as general manager.

Since the café opened in 2012, it's grown into a bustling hub in the city, employing a staff of 18.

It's now well-established and Laura has a new role at Local Energy Scotland, advising and supporting communities and businesses about generating renewable energy.

But she's retained her links with Velocity.

'I’m a customer and great supporter, and sometimes volunteer!' she says.

Laura's top tips for budding (social) entrepreneurs

Pitching

‘Don’t try and be what they want you to be – just be yourself and make sure that you’re pitching yourself to the right people.'

Networking

'I think I don't like it, but actually when I think about it, the whole thing depends on networking. It's just about talking to people about something you're really passionate about.'

Managing the finances 

'Ask someone who knows what they are doing for help. It doesn't need to be your area of expertise, but you need to understand the experts.'

How to be your own boss

Find out about other entrepreneurs and the skills you need to set up your own business on the Be your own Boss page.