The latest twice-yearly Entrepreneur Country Forum, held at IET London: Savoy Place, brought together some 380 entrepreneurs, investors and executives of all nationalities and backgrounds to share experiences and insight about building businesses ‘in a world with no money’.
The packed programme of events included nine keynote speakers, five panel discussions, 25 exhibitors and 12 entrepreneur pitches, hosted by master of ceremonies Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurs at Smith & Williamson. Guy wel-comed guests in an opening address in which he outlined the changes in the political and economic climate since the last forum in January, adding that “while the economy continues to be debt ridden, entrepreneurs will have to find even more innovative and efficient ways of running their own businesses,” a statement which touched home with many present and a topical theme throughout the day’s event.
Tea, coffee and lunch breaks gave the opportunity for guests to network, among them some well-known faces in the business world including Steve Cooper, Managing Director of Barclays Business; Tom Teichman, Chairman of Spark Venture Management; and Chris Smith of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
Sharing their experiences and insight into building growth in tough financial cli-mates was a compelling line up of keynote speakers. The first to take to the stage was Daisy Raffan, the 19-year old co-founder of Kidschineseclub.com which teaches English-speaking children to read, write and speak Mandarin Chinese online in a cool and fun way. She was introduced by Julie Meyer, founder and CEO of Ariadne Capital and founder of Entrepreneur Country, who described her as “a global citizen who enters this world of austerity with a strong vision of running a firm bringing east and west together” and “a woman after my own heart”.
In his keynote speech, Rob Hersov, private investor and serial entrepreneur, talked about surviving the recession, likening it to “sailing in no wind”. Alex Cheatle, CEO of Ten Group followed, his speech entitled ‘Magnets, trust and sweat – building a business in a world with no money’.
Gerald Walker, Managing Director Europe, Bloomberg Ventures took part in an armchair interview with Julie Meyer, where Gerald shared his experiences of the Bloomberg business, which he explained had dramatically changed since he began working there in 1997. In a business that started with just 60 people in London, Gerald said that developing the company was down to “keeping the business very simple, building a good product, working honourably” and maintaining a focus on selling.
The next to talk was Judy Piatkus, entrepreneur and founder of Piatkus Books. Judy, who became known for being unafraid to take risks, and a pioneer in publishing leading-edge lifestyle and personal development titles, shared her valuable views in ‘Masters of our own destiny’.
The forum was privileged to have two compelling speakers from the music in-dustry. Paul King, who runs Live and Dangerous, an international concert pro-ducer and artist management consultancy, gave his talk ‘Money for nothing, kicks for free’ which went down a treat with the audience. He was followed by Federico Bolza, who is VP Marketing Services for Sony Music and responsible for the company’s music strategy in the UK, with ‘Earn your supper - don’t buy it’.
Late in the afternoon, Brad Liebmann, Founder and CEO of Geocast shared ‘seven ways mobile will change digital advertising’ and Dominique Vidal of Index Ventures concluded the line-up with ‘Cash preservation in a tough environment’, citing examples of this strategy in play from his experience with Kelkoo and ASOS.
Guests were also treated to a performance by teenage singer Lucie Evans, who became the first 1Click2Fame £100,000 winner – an online talent contest that uses the power of the public's opinion to find the UK’s best new artists. Backed only by a guitarist, she performed two songs including ‘Fairytale’, a song she wrote the week before and performed for the first time at the event. Lucie is described as “a star… on her way to becoming a well-known name in the UK and abroad.”
Throughout the day entrepreneurs and financers took their seats on stage in panel debates to discuss hot topics including ‘Financing in a world with no mon-ey’ and ‘Making money from smartphone apps’.
At Interactive City, an area designated for budding businesses to exhibit their products and services, 25 businesses showcased their innovative internet and technology companies including Slicethepie, which through the web uses mil-lions of consumer reviews to classify, rate and filter music, enabling it to be searched using unique free text semantic technology.
At two pitching sessions, 12 early-stage businesses were given the opportunity to present their companies and business propositions to prospective investors, the first session featuring companies from Envestors LLP network.
Julie Meyer closed the forum with a speech thanking guests and a reminder of the upcoming 10th anniversary of Ariadne Capital’s launch, which will be in December this year. Julie ended by encouraging the audience to help support En-trepreneur Country on its mission to build the next generation of growth and wealth in the UK and Europe.