"Irrationally optimistic", that's how Sara Murray, founder of confused.com described entrepreneurs during her keynote speech to the Entrepreneur Country Winter Forum. The warmth, energy and optimism of the sell out audience at the Royal Institution of Great Britain was testimony to the fact that despite the doom and gloom of media coverage of the recession, Britain's private sector is positive and prepared to begin fuelling economic growth, employment and wealth creation.
A stellar list of speakers including TV Dragon Theo Paphitis, international economist Dr Dambisa Moyo, sustainable development innovator Steve Lewis took to the stage, delighting attendees with insights into their personal entrepreneurial journey's, their own 'near death experiences' and what made them stand out from the field.
Three key panel discussion topics, 'We know who you are', 'What investors want' and 'Is your vision 2020' provided the audience with an invaluable insight into what industry leaders from the likes of the TSB, Microsoft , IEA and Smith and Williamson believe are the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The Entrepreneur Country Forum, now in their 5th year, has become the beating heart of entrepreneurial Britain. The vibrant networking sessions featured an Interactive City exhibition which included major backers of SME's including Nabarro LLP, Kashflow, Barclays, Microsoft, UK Preventative Medicine, Autodesk and Office Anywhere.
The buzz of the Interactive City was matched by the 'Dragon's Den' pitch sessions where a host of leading investors turned up the heat on would be start-ups. The interactivity between 'Dragon's', audience and the pitches which included Morodo, DAD Solutions, MBA and Company, Money Dashboard, PIXsurance and AeroVortex Mills made for engaging viewing.
Themed 'The Unfair Advantage', retail guru and TV Dragon Theo Paphitis was candid in his assessment that "Common sense is not so common" and delighted the audience during a light-hearted but insightful Q&A with Ariadne Capital CEO, Julie Meyer. The audience of successful entrepreneurs, investors (both Angel and VC), corporate supporters of SME's and representatives of NACUE were kept entertained throughout and discussion and debate was fierce as the Forum came to a close.
Few events match the Entrepreneur Country Forum for it's quality of speakers, attendees and relevance to the entreprenurial community. This year was no exception and the overwhelming sense of optimism was a refreshing break from the bad news we hear day in day out. If the UK as a country begins to better support entrepreneurs towards this truly becoming an 'Entrepreneur Country' then we are blessed with the skill, innovation and people to drive economic growth and employment.