Imagine attending an event of over 500 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, with businesses such as Skyscanner, KPMG, MasterCard and the Deputy First Minister of Scotland looking to provide practical and thought provoking advice into the world of entrepreneurship and success. On Thursday at the We Are The Future Startup Summit 2015 this is exactly what two members of the Odd Panda team did.
The event was organised by the inspiring Bruce Walker and his team at We Are The Future to connect aspiring entrepreneurs from across the globe. Although the event trended throughout the UK on Twitter during the day, it was John Swinney the Scottish Deputy First Minister who emphasised the opportunities available for start-up businesses in Scotland, in particular the many funding prospects for budding entrepreneurs who have developed that next big idea. On leaving the stage he reassuringly encouraged the aspiring entrepreneurs facing barriers in launching a business, to make it known to the Scottish Government.
Stacey Ferreira at the age 23 was another true example of how drive, passion and dedication can change your life. Having received investment from Sir Richard Branson in her first co-founded business, Stacey shared her ‘titbits’ of advice on how to achieve success. She revealed how emailing Sir Richard Branson after spotting his tweet about investment was the luck she had been waiting for – “if you don’t ask you don’t get”, she summarised.
One of the many attractions of the event was attending one of four workshops – ‘Investor Ready’, ‘Sell Like A Pro’, ‘Perfect Pitch’ and ‘Killer Brand’. We split up to make the most it and attended the Pitch and Brand workshops. We left feeling more knowledgeable and motivated than ever, after Jim Duffy from Entrepreneurial Spark and MadeBrave provided some expert advice. MadeBrave gave great guidance on how to build a brand using the Golden Circle and that every company should start with the ‘Why’, as discussed in Simon Sinek’s fantastic TED Talk.
In the Perfect Pitch workshop Jim Duffy ended like all good public speakers, with audience in the palm of his hand. He played arguably one of the best and most inspiring speeches in film history. Al Pachino’s monologue from ‘Any Given Sunday’. This left the room with goosebumps and an apetite for success before they streamed out for lunch.
After lunch Edward Taylor shared his story of how his business idea, about changing the face of corporate travel, was bought over by Skyscanner. One minute he is running a small startup business eating tuna all day everyday, and the next he is managing managers in one of the world’s leading businesses. Ed shared the differences and pressures between running a startup company in Scotland to working for Skyscanner. Doesn’t look like he will be back on the tuna diet any time soon.
Having received a pitching masterclass from Jim Duffy, three businesses now had the chance to pitch to an expert-judging panel for the chance to go to Silicon Valley to meet tech giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook. Comcarde, Amiqus and TickX all had three minutes to pitch and five minutes to answer grueling questions from the panel. All three businesses did very well under significant pressure, but one in particular stood out. TickX Designer and Engineer Sam Coley, presented with confidence and had a strong business model to support his passion to succeed.
As the judges deliberated on their verdict, the audience was treated to a question and answer session from some of Edinburgh’s successful entrepreneurs, which included Cally Russell from Mallzee (who also appeared on Dragons Den), Rory Stirling from Business Growth Fund, Julia Groves from Trillion Fund and serial entrepreneur Bill Dobbie. They gave great insight into running a business and largely the financial opportunities and constraints that entrepreneurs would face along the way. Bill Dobbie recommended bringing onboard a specialist in finance as early as possible, which was music to the ears of KPMG host Bivek Sharma.
To close out the day, the judging panel provided the closing remarks on which business would be jetting off to the slightly warmer weather of the Silicon Valley to meet people and companies they may never have imagined. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the winner was Sam Coley and his event ticketing business, TickX. We wish him and TickX all the very best for the future.
In what was an action packed day of inspired messages and endless business advice the entrepreneurs made their way out of the Assembly Rooms and onto a dark George Street as the sun began to drop. Well done to We Are The Future on such a great event and we already can’t wait for the Startup Summit 2016.