22nd June 2017

The hottest event in town – Venturefest Oxford

Yesterday was the hottest day in 40 years but that didn’t stop over 600 people coming together for this year’s Venturefest Oxford.  It was a great day – with a real focus on innovation, showcasing emerging talent within the business community as well as providing advice from business experts – everything from growing a team, improving negotiating skills through to IP legal advice and how to successfully secure funding.

This was my second year speaking at Venturefest. This year I was part of a panel alongside other entrepreneurs Alex Minchin (Zest Digital), Mark Evans (Adaptix Imaging), Renee Watson (The Curiosity Box), Hugh Bettesworth (Mirada Medical), Jason Purvor (Droplet Computing), Clare Wright (Classlist), and chaired by Gary Frank who heads up FAB Accelerator.  We were discussing the theme of this year’s event ‘From Start-up to Scale Up’ and we took questions from the floor on the challenges of recruitment, how to demonstrate the value of consultancy, the importance of keeping control of cash flow to facilitate growth and the how to build your own customer adventure from the very outset so that you have a real idea of what you want your customer to experience from your brand.

The inevitable B word was raised in the context of how was Brexit going to affect the UK’s start-up economy? There was unanimous feeling that it was not going to hinder the UK start-up world but that more needed to be done with providing support for these fledging businesses to help them succeed, and the importance of business education on the curriculum so that our students leaving school have a greater understanding of how to run a business, and the opportunity that this can bring.

The backdrop for this whole day was our host city, Oxford. And Charles Leadbeater, an author and advisor on social entrepreneurship, was the plenary speaker at lunchtime on the subject of how to make a city like Oxford successful as it evolves.  Charles has spoken around the world on this subject and shared with the audience the importance of a shared city leadership – and that needs to come from not just the  government & ruling bodies but also be combined with input from cultural organisations as well as private and public sector.  As a plan for growth what is required is a shared vision that citizens can buy into that combines social capital as well as open social networks so that initiatives are shared, owned and actioned upon.

One of the things that stay with me from the day is that we are part of a vibrant and strong business ecosystem here in Oxford and that there is a whole range of valuable support for those who are growing resilient businesses here in order to face whatever is to come in the years ahead.