Skip to main content

The Crucible Project

  • 9 helpers

DMU’s Crucible Project is an entrepreneurship opportunity for graduates to explore a business opportunity with the support of training, workshop facilities, and funding.

Thomas McQuade

Founder of a CFO consultancy

I help growing businesses scale by providing financial guidance, leadership and advice. I can advise and deliver on all things accounting and tax.

Thomas has worked in finance for around ten years, starting life at British Gas. He expanded into business consultancy six years ago, providing services such as forecasting/budgeting, financial analysis, business plan writing etc.

He says: “One part of my role that I have really enjoyed is mentoring and coaching more junior members or staff, as well as business owners in the world of Finance and Accounting. I have spoken at a few accelerator programmes now whereby I provide new business owners advice as to how to financially manage their business. I also like to write about all things business, and have recently started a blog (please see the link on my website).

“I have taken part in an Accelerator programme myself and found it incredibly useful. Being part of something like this exposes the attendee to all aspects of business, and really sets them up for success. Furthermore, networking with other business owners is a great way to spread the word about your business.”

Jenny Cross


Running a marketing and events business I can offer support and guidance around all aspects of business growth, budgeting, planning, forecasting and of course marketing and events.

With more than 20 years of working in Sales and Marketing, Jenny Cross is an ambitious, creative thinker who injects passion and propels passion and energy into the business community.

She identifies potential relationships throughout her network and makes introductions for the good of all concerned. Single-handedly, Jenny created a business community that became loyal to both Cross Productions and Niche Magazines products and events in no more than 18 months. With the ability to visualise how something might work, a new concept, idea or event, and within no time would be able to start implementing the process.

Jenny is incredibly hands-on within the community exerting her expertise to enhance local projects, supporting charities and connecting organisations across the region. Breaking down barriers and challenges in her way, her ‘nothing can stop me’ mindset is infectious. Jenny’s innovative thinking pay off as she leads her own successful marketing business that has grown exponentially over the year.

Jenny has worked with start-up companies through to global household brands building strategic marketing campaigns that support the businesses plans for growth.

Dr Marian Evans

Senior Lecturer in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

I am a practitioner as well as an academic with over 40 years experience in small entrepreneurial businesses, as an owner manager and director. My areas of interest and expertise are small business startups and business growth, as well as innovation and product development. However, I am happy to discuss a wide range of issues and share my experiences with others.

Cristian Zuzunaga

Artist and Designer


Cristian Zuzunaga

Since I graduated in 2007, I have designed collections for companies such as Kvadrat, Brintons, Camper, Ligne Roset, Fabergé, Nanimarquina and BD Barcelona Design and worked with public bodies including Tate Modern and the V&A in London. I have also been working as a consultant, adviser and as an independent artist, exhibiting work around the world.

In parallel, in 2010 I founded the award winning Zuzunaga brand with the desire to create timeless, non-gender specific and sustainable home, fashion textiles and accessories.

As a designer and CEO of a small company, I have learned to effectively collaborate and communicate my ideas clearly and effectively with the many different components of the creative process and manufacturing chain as well as PR, press, wholesale clients, exhibitors and other heads of design in collaborative projects.

Being invited to talk about my process at events and institutions and working as a visiting lecturer has also allowed me to develop a cogent articulation of my own creative process which is an essential part of my creative journey.

I believe this ongoing journey is a vital element of teaching and providing empathy with students who are themselves at the start of their own journeys, I wish to imbue a sense of inspiration, grounding and creativity into what is a challenging, demanding and competitive industry.

Gilllian Heggs

Copywriter, trainer and mentor

Copywriting training and mentoring support, built on 37 years working as a copywriter, plus extensive experience as a copywriting trainer.

Helping you understand how to make your words work harder across your marketing channels.

I love words - and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to build a career around them. After I’d been copywriting for a while, I was asked to run a training course. I was terrified, and I wanted to say ‘no’ but my mouth went ‘OK then.’ Yet, standing up in front of a room full of people changed my life – and I found that I enjoyed helping people through training as much as I enjoyed copywriting. So now I do both.

Outside of work, I still love words, and I read and write a lot. In fact, being creative makes me happy so I try my hand at all sorts. My other great passion is football, whether that’s watching matches live or on tv. And anything I do is brightened up by Earl Grey tea and biscuits.

Abigail Hall

Construction Consultant, Presenter, Podcast Host & Author

Advice on business resilience
Product Development
Entering new markets.
Developing you business idea from product to service and from service to product.
Business collaborations.
Developing strategic relationships
Goal setting.

Abigail Hall is a design consultant and expert in the residential construction sector - AKA the ‘Queen of Construction’

She’s a woman in a man’s world and has fought hard to get where she is, reinventing herself and her business various times to suit the new markets she is targeting.

This reinvention has been a success, building and international consultancy and excelling in the UK prime property world.

Abi brings humour, a hell of a lot of lessons (because of her many mistakes!) but also method to keep going even when the path seems unclear and all you have is self beliefs to fall back on.

She will teach you to ‘know yourself’ when to save and when to spend. How to spot new opportunities and how you can build a business from turning up, being polite and seeing mutual advantage in every situation.

Alison Machin

Director, Think D Ltd

Business growth
Value proposition
Marketing and sales strategy
Sales forecasting
Managing finances and cashflow
Networking and developing contacts and leads

Alison Machin

A strategic leader, working with businesses and entrepreneurs, Alison has more than 17 years’ client-facing experience supporting SMEs, public sector and the voluntary sector. An experienced business coach and trainer, Alison works dynamically to help organisations take advantage of new opportunities as well as championing partnerships. She has experience in supporting high growth technology start-ups to validate ideas for commercialisation and to build strategies for sustainability and growth.

Alison is an experienced facilitator and qualified trainer and can confidently deliver a variety of interventions to different audiences. She has experience of designing and delivering training courses to support business strategy and growth and sharing good practice with diverse audiences. Alison is an experienced business coach and has been providing 1:1 mentoring and coaching interventions to SME owner/managers and senior leaders for over 10 years.

Alison worked with Innovate UK on a national innovation programme to deliver entrepreneurial skills training to high growth SME award winners from the science and technology sectors. She rolled out a train the trainer programme to innovation advisers in the North East, North West and Yorkshire, as well as working directly with SME owners to develop and implement robust business models for growth. She was also an adviser on the National steering group for the Women in Innovation project.

Gemma Ryan

Brand protection specialist / Intellectual Property Lawyer

I offer advice in relation to protecting your brand, the Intellectual Property that your business may own now or in the future. Providing advice on Patents, Trade Marks, Copyright and Design. We can discuss how to protect your ideas and brand in the most cost effective way possible. This is important information that needs to not only be considered at the beginning of your business but also throughout its growth. |

Gemma is a dual qualified solicitor and chartered trademark attorney, and the founder of an Intellectual Property (IP) legal services start-up. Gemma has worked in legal services for 14 years and specialised in brand protection for close to a decade. She provides straightforward advice on trademarks, designs and copyright law. As a start-up herself, Gemma understands first-hand the challenges of starting a business and will guide you through the complex area of IP providing advice on how to protect your ideas and brand in the most cost-effective way.

Ellen O’Hara

Creative Business Coach

General creative business coaching and a focus – for Crucible – on diversifying income streams. This could mean developing new offers, reaching new audiences / markets with your existing offers or creating an entirely new stream based on your key skills and strengths.

Ellen O’Hara is a creative enterprise specialist, strategist, creative business coach and researcher. With 25 years' experience, she has designed and delivered innovation and creative enterprise programmes for a range of organisations and has directly supported hundreds of creative and social entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses.

Ellen provides consultancy in strategy, business development, entrepreneurship and innovation to cultural organisations nationally and internationally.

She is co-founder of Modfin, a business and financial modelling methodology for creative and purpose led businesses. .

Ellen is an avid collector of contemporary craft, loves electronic music and festivals, alongside walks in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives.