Happy New Year from ABA! 2021 Reflections…

A very Happy New Year to all of our friends, partners, colleagues and associates! As we enter 2022, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on some of the great successes that we achieved over the course of the previous year. Not only is it important for all businesses to realise and recognise the achievements of their organisation and staff, but it can also help you shape strategy and direction for the year ahead.

So, what did ABA’s 2021 look like?

Q1 2021 – New Year, New Energy: BetProtect Application Development in Partnership with Safer Online Gambling Group

During the first quarter of 2021, Adam Bradford Agency focused heavily on product development of a safer gambling product in association with the Safer Online Gambling Group. The groundbreaking product, known as ‘BetProtect’ and destined for National and International markets, was designed for and in-conjuction with former gambling players and addicts. This ground-up platform was designed to reduce the liklihood of players becoming addicted to gambling via unhealthy gaming; this was achieved through the recognition of abnormal behaviour and by providing players with learning materials to ensure they fully understood gambling (and safe gambling) in its fuller context. Uniquely, BetProtect was designed to accompany players in their user experience rather than halt or block their play. Adam Bradford Agency played a crucial role in the development of the application, including management of the project to Safer Online Gambling Group. The experience was entirely new for the team and provided some great professional insights and learning opporunities that have been utilised in various projects since.

Q2 2021 – Rest, Recover, Restart: BetProtect Application Sale and Strategic Vision for 2021

During the second quarter of 2021, and post-development of the BetProtect application, it was time to bring the product to market. Adam Bradford Agency continued to support the Safer Online Gambling Group in its final product delivery ensuring a smooth and successful sale of the product to Gibraltar-based technology company Crucial Compliance. Crucial Compliance have vast gambling industry experience and great technical prowess. Their organisation specialises in platform development for organisations to learn and understand the analytics of both their internal and external processes, inclusive of sales, customer, experience etc. BetProtect was therefore a natural fit in their portfolio and one that could greatly benefit further from their technological input and development prior to reaching the customer or consumer.

The conclusion of the BetProtect project with Safer Online Gambling Group left ABA with a void – this project had been a full time commitment and had required permanent resource allocation throughout its operation. We needed a new strategic direction and business plan to see-out the remainder of the year. Lots of planning and thought-led discussions took place during this period to ensure that ABA’s next steps were both relevant and sustainable to the brand. It was during this time frame that the decision was made to focus on the UAE market in continuation from our entry to the region in late 2020. At this stage it wasn’t clear where we fit specifically within the region, nor was it clear what products/services we should deliver. Group CEO and founder, Adam Bradford, ensured that time was spent on market research in-country to establish the needs and demands of the market and how we could service these relative to our mission and vision.

Q3 2021 – The Beginning of Something Special: Announcement of Inspiring Futures UK & UAE

In the third quarter of the year, and having concluded on-ground market research for the UAE, it was established that we could lead the local social enteprise sector if we came out with a new, exciting and unique project for the region. Upon Adam’s return to the UK, meetings were held to begin discussing and planning a project that encapsulated both ABA and AdamStart’s USPs to create the new and inspiring project. Previously, and concurrently during Q3, ABA had worked with clients to professionally develop and represent individual entrepreneurs and their businesses, whilst AdamStart always led campaigns for mass-application worldwide (such as the COVID-19 Challenge in 2020). We needed a way to combine these multiple channels for a market that had never heard of these brands, and for one where results and purpose were key. It was critical that we therefore found a partner to enter the market with for both efficiency and effectiveness, and more so for local guidance and expertise:

‘Inspiring Futures’ was launched in late August/early September as a concept for both the UK and UAE! Designed literally to inspire the futures of the young generation, and to bring together different cities’ business communities, Inspiring Futures would recreate a spark that inspired Adam Bradford to become an entrepreneur more than 10 years ago. Applications would open for the respective markets to allow both established and inestablished entrepreneurs to apply to showcase their product, service or idea. Similar in style to the BBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’, the project would include elements of both ABA and AdamStart, inclusive of mentorship with external partners, access to funding, branding and professional development, and general real-world business support. Towards Q4, the idea really gained traction and was picked up by various private organisations for support, further testament to the project’s wholesomeness, validity and genuine capable impact for social entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, in Q3 2021, Adam Bradford enlisted Ryan Bradford as Associate Director of Adam Bradford Agency, a step-up from his previous role as Project Manager for the previous 18 months. This promotion was relative to the continued strategy involvement Ryan had been included in throughout 2021 and a response to his key contributions for new project development and market entry.

Q4 2021 – Where One Event Stutters, Another Blossoms: Postponement of Inspiring Futures UK, Delivery of Inspiring Futures UAE and Pearson College London Partnership Announcement

The very nature of business is to throw curveballs and to always be unpredictable, particularly within small business, and that’s precisely what ABA experienced in Q4 2021. ABA was off to a great start, with CEO Adam Bradford attending the 2021 Festival of Digital Disruption. In November however, things quickly became tricky due to the ongoing pandemic – our upcoming events were all based on-ground and in-person…

Inspiring Futures UK and UAE were scheduled to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021, and until the UK began to experience national supply crises due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that’s exactly what was planned. As you may have seen across our various social media channels, Inspiring Futures UK had to be postponed due to an innability to service the food or drinks provision at the venue due to an ongoing HGV drivers shortfall. This was hugely disappointing and very disheartening as the excitement and anticipation of the event had all led to that moment. Inspiring Futures UK was also integrated into a new partnership (which at that moment was unannounced) with Pearson College London in which some of their business students would attend and pitch alongside the other applicants. This was therefore a double blow as it had effectively impacted two seperate projects, and it came on top of further news that was about to surface of another postponment! Yes, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2021 (in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) announced just days later that they too had to postpone their event due to the pandemic. This was a blessing in disguise as it gave us additional time to prepare and become extra-diligant for Inspiring Futures UAE (to ensure this too was not delayed!).

Inspiring Futures UAE proceeded without a hitch and did indeed prove to be a great success:

FedEx announced that they would become a headline sponsor for the event held at MediaOne Hotel, Media City, in association with the British Business Group Dubai & Northern Emirates (BBG). With their support and continued involvement, Inspiring Futures proved a greatly successful event that not only inspired our applicants, but also inspired new members to attend and signup to the BBG! Three finalists from three unique countries pitched at the final afront of an audience of more than 60 business leaders and professionals, with Indian-based Emertech impressing the esteemed juding panel the most and taking the crown.

In the background throughout this busy period, and softly released to the press in mid-December, was the aforementioned Pearson College London partnership that had been agreed in principal all the way back in September! Long-term partners and great supporting friends of ABA’s, Pearson College London agreed to partner with us (AdamStart) to fulfill additional prospective content to their students. The greatly-respected higher education institute has long been a place for the best quality of education, innovating continually for the benefit of young people in their future careers. This new partnership demonstrates their continued commitment to innovation and differentiation and their trust in ABA/AdamStart’s drive to present quality developmental support to entrepreneurs globally. The partnership is the first of its kind in the UK and paves the way in which higher education bodies can enrich the learning and fulfillment of their students.

2022 – What’s Next?

As it so happens, ABA have just announced AdamStart’s new board in anticipation of some great upcoming projects, and to effectively progress the Pearson College London partnership beyond 2022. The board will be of great value to the group’s Directors providing critical feedback and direction in alignment to our collective mission(s) and vision(s).

Next week we will delve further into our group’s upcoming projects, but be sure that 2022 is a year of exceptional new momentum, great new projects, and heights that ABA have never previously reached!