Robert staged some small business focus groups to gauge opinion on an enterprise focused apprenticeship that was being developed. Feedback was that people liked the qualification but, in common with most SMEs were daunted by the process. They felt it was not sufficiently small business focused. Further investigation by Robert suggested there was an opportunity to create a new organisation to better connect bright young people with small businesses wanting to grow.
With a grant from the County Council and sponsorship from three housing associations, Robert set up Swarm as a Social Business in 2013 and recruited a pilot cohort. This experience led him to win additional grant support and recruit a small team, led by MD Chris Perry who joined In August 2014 to grow the venture.