Penny Power and Gail Thomas have joined forces to launch a new high street café chain aimed at business owners and the self-employed.
The Business Café will open its first bricks and mortar premises in Peterborough, prior to a national roll-out.
Billed as a "Starbucks which gets down to business", The Business Café will bring online and offline support together in a network of cafes across the UK. It will offer free membership with access to a "private lounge-style environment" where users can work, network and hold business meetings.
In addition, trained members of staff will act as "digital friends" providing digital expertise to users. Key SaaS partners will also provide support in book-keeping, expense management, CRM, banking and online marketing.
Co-founder Penny Power said: "The digital world, for all its benefits, can't complete the circuit board in terms of real-time physical social experiences. You really do need both. This is what The Business Café is all about, having a place where business owners can network, share problems and help each other over a coffee."
"The Business Café picks up where Starbucks leaves off," said Gail Thomas, co-founder and coo of The Business Cafe. "Small business owners, particularly in regional centres across Britain, will often meet in the likes of Starbucks or a Costa, but always inevitably feel a little out of place having business meetings."
Penny Power founded Ecademy in 1998 and went on to write the Government's Manifesto For Digital Business Britain. Gail Thomas is the founder of the Virtual PA Company.
Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: "I am wholeheartedly supporting The Business Café because I see first-hand the need for mentorship and support in the UK business community, particularly around digital skills … I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength."