Oh, Boy!

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Understandably overshadowed by the birth of the Royal baby, the weekend saw another royal story: the release of the latest Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, with 230 businesses from across the UK recognised for their contributions. Countries, like companies, succeed by making the most of their competitive advantages, and even Republicans can't deny that the institution of monarchy is an unrivalled asset in global prestige. The Queen's Awards are a way for businesses to tap into this, particularly as they look to export and internationalise.

But don't take my word for it. Francis Toye – founder of Unilink, a previous winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and Adviser to The Entrepreneurs Network – is clear about the benefits it has brought his business: "Winning the Queen's Award for Innovation gave a fantastic boost to our staff and a fillip with our customers. We were even lucky enough to meet Her Majesty. One of our customers in the Ministry of Justice said 'we had approval from as high as you can get.'"

Entries for 2019 awards open on 8 May 2018. Find out more

Management Matters
"We have a large tail of businesses which, for a variety of reasons, have struggled to adopt and embrace the new technologies," explains Robert Jenrick MP, the UK Treasury's lead spokesperson on economic growth and productivity, in a Business Insider interview. "Within [any] industry there's a quite a large group of businesses which are slow to adopt new technologies – where there is less automation than some of their competitors in France and Germany – where perhaps management skills and training is lower," he add.

What can be done? The interview doesn't really get into solutions, but here are some ideas. First, the government should incentivise investment by allowing firms to immediately deduct capital expenses. We proposed this in A Boost for British Businesses (p.16) and its one of our key tax policy asks.

We also need to understand the problem better. And that's what we are doing with our research-led Business Stay-Up campaign. As Rob May, founder of ABE, wrote in City AM: "Improving management skills may require a rethink about how business owners learn. Few will have the time, money or inclination to put their business on hold to enter the classroom full-time. Bespoke, accessible, on-demand learning may be better placed to help more people." We are currently reaching out to individuals and organisations who are interested in getting involved in this project – let me know if you would like to find out more.

Third, economist Robin Hanson has a zany suggestion: "Record the full lives of many rising managers over several years, and show a mildly compressed and annotated selection of such recordings to aspiring managers. Such recordings could be compressed by deleting sleep and non-social periods. They could be annotated to identify key decisions and ask viewers to make their own choices, before they see actual choices." Economist Alex Tabarrok has also written about this.

On the subject of videos, check out this inspiring 10-minute documentary produced and directed by Sophie Sandor about the 23-year-old fashion entrepreneur Tianah. It's a powerful defence of enterprise and the beauty and necessity of the profit motive.

You can read the full e-bulletin here and sign up here

Artificial Intelligence? 

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Yesterday, the House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee released a report: AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?
 
There’s a lot to unpack from its recommendations, but what concerns me is what was omitted. In the summary, it states: “Many of the hopes and the fears presently associated with AI are out of kilter with reality. While we have discussed the possibilities of a world without work, and the prospects of superintelligent machines which far surpass our own cognitive abilities, we believe the real opportunities and risks of AI are of a far more mundane, yet still pressing, nature.”
 
What sort of fantasist would believe that we have anything to fear from superintelligent machines? Well, the late, great Stephen Hawking, as well as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, for starters. In focusing on the mundane, the Lords might be missing the existential risk in the room.
 
A dozen AI experts also signed the Hawkins/Musk/Gates letter, and last year a robust survey of AI experts found that on average they believe AI will outperform humans in many activities in the next ten years: translating languages by 2024, writing high-school essays by 2026, driving a truck by 2027, working in retail by 2031, writing a bestselling book by 2049, and working as a surgeon by 2053. There are a few dozen experts who think there’s 100% chance of human-level AI before 2050 and on average researchers believe there's a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years.

High-level machine intelligence (HLMI), which is when unaided machines can accomplish every task better and more cheaply than human workers may take a while, but it’s short-sighted to dismiss it as not presenting “real opportunities and risks.” The Lords may have set it aside for another report, but if they ignore AI risks entirely they could be failing to understand the most brilliant and dangerous technology the world has ever known.
 
Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, has inspired celebrants and critics in thinking through the future impacts of AI. Bostrom believes AI presents an existential risk to humanity, and I think his ideas deserve to be taken seriously. In fairness to the Lords, he was a witness for the report, where he didn't go into the risks, but his Future of Humanity Institute provided written evidence that was explicit about long-term AI safety concerns. The Lords should follow up with the Institute's offer to support policy thinking around this issue.
 
The average AI expert isn’t a doomsayer. The survey cited above finds that most experts think HLMI will be positive, aren't discounting catastrophic risks entirely. When the numbers are crunched, 14% of experts believe that AI might be soon, superintelligent, and hostile.
 
Britain’s most esteemed Lords have got in wrong in the past. Lord Kelvin, the first British scientist to be elevated to the upper house, predicted that heavier-than-air flight was impossible eight years before the Wright brothers proved him wrong. Even Lord (Ernest) Rutherford was wrong about the significance of his own work. The father of nuclear physics, said in 1933: “Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.”
 
The House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee would do better to keep an open mind on the long-term impact of AI. Perhaps they could chat with their colleague Lord Martin Rees, astrophysicist and co-founder of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. As the former President of the Royal Society thinks: “We don’t know where the boundary lies between what may happen and what will remain science fiction.”

Pro Cures

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I've delayed sending out this week's e-bulletin to comply with an embargo announcing that Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden is introducing changes to encourage small businesses to apply for more government contracts. I was recently in Number 10 to hear about these proposals and came away more optimistic than I walked in – which is not always the case after meetings with ministers.

The Prime Minister has written to members of the Cabinet to ask them to nominate a small business champion minister in each department. There's always the risk this will just be cosmetic, but ensuring responsibility is exactly what any well-run organisation – public or private – would do to bring about institutional change. It's not sufficient, but it's necessary.


The Government will also exclude suppliers from major government procurements if they cannot demonstrate fair and effective payment practices with their subcontractors. Late payments can have devastating repercussions down the supply chain, with the European Commission finding that 30% of UK businesses report that late payment had links to subsequent redundancies.

Also, suppliers will have to advertise subcontracting opportunities via the Contracts Finder website. This will reduce the search costs for smaller businesses and through increased competition should improve the quality of subcontractors and with it the quality of procurement projects.

These announcements are all part of meeting the long-established target of procurement spend of 33% with small businesses by 2022. This is now being framed as an "aspiration", which is government language for unattainable. However, I don't think we should obsess over percentages.

What we should care about is further levelling the playing field by reducing the burdens of bureaucracy and regulations, improving the experience of Contacts Finder and ensuring departments have the skills, processes and even a little risk appetite for procuring innovation.

Selling into government isn't for everyone, but for business owners interested in finding out more, Contracts Finder will let you search for opportunities in different sectors, find out what’s coming up in the future, and look up details of previous tenders and contracts.

The Uncommon Good

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Some businesses do more good than others. This will seem obvious when comparing the practices of a company like Enron with that of Lego, but this point goes deeper than culture and management practices. On average, businesses at different stages of their lifecycle have more or less positive impacts upon the world.

A recent report from Octopus Group shows that high-growth small businesses (HGSBs) create 20% of jobs and add 22% of gross value added, driving increased productivity. HGSBs are defined as companies with more than 20 per cent average annual growth over three years, and between £1m and £20m of annual turnover. Between 2015 and 2016, 22,074 HGSBs created 158,000 new jobs, amounting to over 3,000 new jobs every week. The report also reveals that HGSBs are significantly more productive than the average business, creating an additional two months of economic output every year compared to the average UK business.

But it’s not all good news. HGSBs are waning in number and their economic output fell by 9% year-on-year. And critically, 90% of them face some form of skills shortage, this compares to only 17% of the average UK business. Whatever shade of Brexit we end up with – soft, hard or something in between – Britain’s best businesses need talent to grow. HGSBs aren’t principally concerned about low-skilled workers, most, 62%, find it tricky hiring people with the right technical or practical skills.

As Chris Hulatt, co-founder of Octopus Group, explains: “It’s abundantly clear that, despite being small in number, high growth small businesses are disproportionately important to our economic growth, especially as Britain looks to a future outside of the European Union. We need to ensure that they are given every opportunity to flourish and grow. By championing these businesses and implementing the right policies to unlock their growth potential, they can continue to boost employment and productivity across the country.”

More of HGSBs might well be key to increasing UK productivity, which remains below its pre-financial crisis trend. And as Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, says in reference to the report: “High growth small businesses are really punching above their weight across the country and it’s great to see the value they provide to the UK economy. Productivity provides the basis for long-term, sustainable growth and improvements in living standards, and by supporting these businesses we can close the productivity gap and increase wages.”

I couldn't agree more. Read more about the report's policy suggestions in my Forbes article.

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Female Founders Forum Report 2018 - Press Coverage

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On 15th March we launched our annual report on female entrepreneurship Mentoring Matters with the support of Barclays. Using the latest data from Beauhurst, the report highlights the equity funding gap in the UK. The key figures from the report include:

  • In 2017, the total amount of capital raised by entrepreneurs almost doubled. Yet the proportion invested in businesses with at least one female founder decreased from 14.9% in 2016, to 8.5% in 2017;

  • Between 2016 and 2017, the total amount of funding raised by male-led companies increased by 55%, compared to a decrease of 0.1% for those with a female founder;

  • Yet the highest amount raised by a company with at least one female founder almost tripled in 2017 compared with 2016; this was Monica Kalia, Co-founder of Neyber, which raised £143.5m;

  • The total number of recorded deals for companies with at least one female founder increased from 775 to 901 between 2016 and 2017.

The report also serves as a practical aid for entrepreneurs: we interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs for their top tips on leadership, innovation, mentoring and pitching. Please do share it among your networks!

One of our recommendations that appeared in both the 2017 and 2018 reports is that the media should promote female role models through their publications. On International Women’s Day The Telegraph launched a Women Mean Business campaign which aims to encourage and promote female entrepreneurship. As part of The Telegraph campaign, I’ve written about why female entrepreneurship is the last piece of the puzzle for female empowerment and Annabel, our Editor, has written about our report. We were also on the front page of The Telegraph on 15th March, with Olivia Rudgard reporting on how investment in women's businesses has fallen.

I appeared on the BBC Daily Politics show stating that female role models not quotas are the way to bridge the gap. Forbes reported twice on Mentoring Matters, writing that funding for female entrepreneurs in the UK has taken a tumble and about female only accelerators . Also Insider reported that start-up funding for women “remains stubbornly low”.

I wrote for CapX on why the equity funding gap is more worrying than unequal pay. I also authored an article for ConservativeHome on why the Government should champion female entrepreneurship. And Annabel wrote for the Yorkshire Post on why Britain will benefit with more female entrepreneurs.

Plenty has been written on last year’s report as well over the past few weeks with our data featuring in a Telegraph letter to the Government, which over 200 business leaders and MPs signed to urge Government to boost female entrepreneurship in Britain. Findings from Untapped Unicorns was also mentioned in a Telegraph interview with Dragon’s Den star Jenny Campbell. And another article around the funding gap.

After a day of plenty of press coverage we celebrated the launch of the report with an evening reception at Blooms London, with delicious food from female-led businesses Foraging Fox, ChickP and Well&Truly, as well as drinks Karma Kola and The Urban Cordial.

A big thank you to everyone involved in the project – particularly Barclays. We hope to see some of you at our future mentoring events which will focus around pitching and leadership. Please sign up for our e-bulletin for the latest information on these events.

R&D Tax Credits: What they are and why they're awesome

Earlier this evening – or yesterday, if you're disciplined enough to avoid checking your email late in the evening – a debate took place at the Chartered Institute of Taxation on whether business tax reliefs are corporate welfare or essential elements of the tax system.
 
It’s easy to be critical of the business tax system. It’s easy because it's a behemoth requiring simplification (broadening the base) and cuts. But not all interventions are equally bad; and some might even be good! For example, as Helen Miller of the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out, the evidence suggests there are decent arguments in favour of Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credits.
 
The economic justification for the policy is that it can produce spillovers – in other words, positive stuff that wouldn’t otherwise happen and enough of it so this outweighs the economic cost of lost tax revenue. Evaluations show that £1 of R&D relief results in £1.7 of R&D, as well as other positive externalities on innovation. (Over the years, I've seen a lot of evidence backing this up – more than I've found for any other tax break.)
 
The government doesn’t do a great job of promoting its policies. The experience of Charlie Mowat (p. 44), founder of The Clean Space, is typical:
 

“We just stumbled across R&D tax credits – I was at a conference and there was a guy who was pitching as an accountant to see if anyone was interested in help claiming for R&D. We found that we qualified, so we submitted an application and we went from there. It’s had a massive impact in terms of allowing us to invest more in the system but the government should be advertising it better. We found out in time to make the most of it for this project, but we did miss out on previous projects which we could have claimed on, and which we spent around £200 thousand on developing. Entrepreneurs just don’t know enough about it.”

 
For any entrepreneurs not yet up-to-speed on R&D Tax Credits, here are the basics (taken from the Gov.uk website). 

R&D Tax reliefs support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology. It can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. Specifically, companies that:

  • looked for an advance in science and technology;
  • had to overcome uncertainty;
  • tried to overcome this uncertainty
  • couldn’t be easily worked out by a professional in the field. 

There are two types of relief, but the one for SMEs – that is, companies with under 500 employees, and a turnover of under €100m or a balance sheet total under €86m – allows companies to deduct an extra 130% of their qualifying costs from their yearly profit, as well as the normal 100% deduction, to make a total 230% deduction. Also, you can claim a tax credit if the company is loss making, worth up to 14.5% of the surrenderable loss.

Spread the good news!

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We Don't Need No Education

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Theresa May is planning to force universities to charge less for some courses based on their costs and potential graduate earnings. You can see her logic. When the government set a price cap – now £9,250 a year – it didn’t expect nearly every course across all universities would charge the same price, but that's what happened. Given the current system is effectively a progressive income contingent graduate tax, it’s not unreasonable to argue for doing away with price caps altogether and letting universities create a market for courses. But this would be a bad idea.

First, too many young people – particularly those from poorer backgrounds who don’t have the advice of parents who have been there and done it – lack the necessary information to make the right decisions about the education they should invest in. Second, it's not a proper market. Universities are heavily subsidised and most current student loans aren't paid back. The taxpayer would have even more to bail out, which is a regressive transfer of wealth from relatively poor non-graduates to relatively rich graduates.

But there is a provocative third reason. In The Case Against Education, Professor Bryan Caplan argues that a lot of our education system is a futile arms race of wasteful signalling and credentialism, rather that a useful way of learning transferable skills. Even if he is partially right, the implications are significant. Entrepreneur Peter Thiel is convinced – that's why he set up The Thiel Fellowship, which gives $100,000 to “young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom”. It’s an idea worth pondering upon.

Creative Thinking
Nesta and the Creative Industries Council have released Creative Nation. Among its findings is that though creative businesses are more productive than similarly sized businesses, they will not materially contribute to addressing the UK’s productivity problems unless they scale-up significantly.

Grin Up North
The Northern Tech 100 League Table is open for applications. The table ranks the top 100 fastest-growing tech companies in the North, with rankings based on revenue growth over the past three years. To enter you must be an active technology company with at least £500,000 revenue in 2015 and be based in the North of the UK (including Scotland).

 

 Our Survey

APPG for Entrepreneurship: 2018 Survey
Your answers will serve as the raw data on which we base three briefing papers designed to impact policy.
Tell politicians what you think!
 


Our Events

Leap 100 Breakfast with Sophie Eden and Sam Gordon, Founders of Gordon & Eden
How to Secure World-Class Talent
7 March 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: techniques on how to secure people in a competitive market; pragmatic advice for the CEO/Founder on how they can impact the search process; and how to get the best out of your search provider



Female Founders Forum Launch: Mentoring Matters
15 March 2018
19-23 Featherstone Street, Blooming Founders, London
6pm to 8pm
Free
Find out more
RSVP
Join us for our launch of the 2018 report on the importance of mentoring for female entrepreneurs. We're very excited to announce our keynote as Vin Murria!

 

News & Views

Boris Johnson urges Remainers to recognise the benefits of leaving EU… 
…but Simon Tilford disagrees, arguing that our domestic policy is holding us back (check out A Boost for British Businesses for our thoughts on what should be done on the domestic front)
The Harvard Business Review looks at what happens to a startup when venture capitalists replace the founder
The visa cap for skilled workers was hit for third month in a row… 
…Ian Robinson argues in the Times that UK employers need a clear immigration policy…
… and Russ Shaw calls for a more flexible visa system  
Grand challenges are reshaping US university research
Labour’s Seema Malhotra on why closing the entrepreneurial gender gap requires us all to take action (which mentions this Female Founders Forum research
Over 450,000 students currently run, or plan to run a business while at university
The RSA calls for sovereign wealth fund to give every resident under 55 a £10k dividend
As part of the Leap 100, my colleague Annabel Denham writes about how Oaknorth’s founder is banking on challenging incumbent lenders
 
 

Friends of the Network

Events

Meet the Director
20 February 2018
Oxford and Cambridge Club , 71-77 Pall Mall, London
Free
6pm to 9pm
Find out more
A networking event will follow the talk with drinks and nibbles. It is a terrific opportunity to mingle with members of the Cambridge Judge Launchpad community. 


Workshop: Getting the Most from your Network
22 February, 2018
9am to 1pm
Albert House, 256-260 Old Street, London
Cost: Non-members: £150 +VAT; Members £95 +VAT
Find out more
This four-hour interactive session aims to help attendees get the most from their network, ultimately driving success in both business and personal life.


E2E #ScaleUp2Success
27 February 2018
5pm to 9pm
Spaces, 9 Greyfriars Road, Reading, RG1 1NU
Cost: SCALEUP18 for a the complimentary ticket. Otherwise £30
Find out more
E2E hosts an evening of drinks & canapés in conversation with Tim Weller, Founder of Incisive Media and Rob Law MBE, Founder of Trunki.


Make It Your Business: London
1 March 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
The Bull Theatre, 68 High Street, Barnet, London
Cost: £10 (Or free if you become a member)
RSVP
Join Make It Your Business for a panel event with guest speakers: Karen Wright (founder, Love Feet); Dr Mandy Kent (founder, Hadley Green Dental Practice); Laura Milligan (founder, Laura Felicity Design) and Louise Bawcutt (owner, The Present).
 

Insuring Women’s Futures Live 2018: The Big Conversation
6 March 2018
The Mermaid, Puddle Dock, London
Free
8.15am to 6pm
Find out more
A day of lively panel discussions and breakout sessions around the unique risks women are exposed to throughout life. 


Leap Academy: Managing Shareholder Agreements and Disputes
14 March 2018
Africa House, 70 Kingsway, London
Free
8.30am to 10.30am
Find out more
Topics to be discussed are: benefits of shareholder agreements; increase the prospect of building a successful business and avoid disputes; advance planning for risk management issues and resolving boardroom and shareholder disputes. Joining the discussion will be Jonathan Berman, Corporate Parnter at Mishcon de Reya and Nicola Bridge, Litigation Partner at Mishcon de Reya.


Competitions

The Astra Awards
Deadline: 16 May 2018
Prize: There are various prizes for each category, ranging from co-working space in Blooms London, support from NACUE, access to Toucan's ecosystem and being fast-tracked straight to the Investment Committee
Find out more
Toucan Ventures, Blooming Founders and NACUE are coming together this Spring to bring you The Astra Awards - a competition to champion the creative community, female businesses and the very best students that the UK has to offer. 

Worth Staying Up For

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Today we are launching Business Stay-Up: a research project with the Association of Business Executives (ABE) and the Centre for Education Economics that aims to increase understanding about the role of skills, knowledge, and experience in ensuring we have fewer unnecessary small business failures.

In today's City AM, ABE's CEO Rob May gives some background to the project. Here are his key points:

  • Not every failure is due to a lack of demand for a product or service – poor management can destroy what could otherwise be a successful business.
  • UK business policy has pivoted from focusing on startups to scale-ups – from having more businesses to building better businesses. This should be welcomed. There is no point having lots of people starting up if they aren’t going to scale, but before they can thrive many will need to survive. That’s where skills and training matter.
  • We shouldn’t compare Apple with oranges. Silicon Valley is dominated by entrepreneurs and investors betting on catching the next big technological wave. By necessity, many will wipe out a few times, and just like the most ambitious entrepreneurs in the UK, they should be allowed and encouraged to get back on their board. But not all founders are aiming to disrupt an entire market – failure is a luxury many can’t afford twice.
  • Overall survival rates and churn are driven by market dynamics outside the control of entrepreneurs on the ground, but it makes sense to want as many business owners as possible to have the skills to give it their best shot. The better firms are run, the more competitive the business environment, with competition driving efficiencies and innovations that increase productivity, which leads to higher wages.
  • Improving management skills may require a rethink about how business owners learn. Few will have the time, money or inclination to put their business on hold to enter the classroom full-time. Bespoke, accessible, on-demand learning may be better placed to help more people. As with so many areas of our lives, artificial intelligence will no doubt have an increasing role to play in supporting both the edtech revolution and wider support for business owners and managers.
  • And, at the very least, there will be an evolving role for the government in signposting, convening and supporting the right training through the tax system. Entrepreneurs should be celebrated for the risks they take – over the course of this year, Business Stay-Up will try to work out what can be done to help them and the country prosper.

You can read the full article here. And find out more about the project here.

 

Our Survey


APPG for Entrepreneurship: 2018 Survey
Your answers will serve as the raw data on which we base three briefing papers designed to impact policy.
Tell politicians what you think!
 

Our Events



Leap 100 Breakfast with Sophie Eden and Sam Gordon, Founders of Gordon & Eden
How to Secure World-Class Talent
7 March 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: techniques on how to secure people in a competitive market; pragmatic advice for the CEO/Founder on how they can impact the search process; and how to get the best out of your search provider



Female Founders Forum Launch: Mentoring Matters
15 March 2018
19-23 Featherstone Street, Blooming Founders, London
6pm to 8pm
Free
Find out more
RSVP
Join us for our launch of the 2018 report on the importance of mentoring for female entrepreneurs. We're very excited to announce our keynote as Vin Murria! 


 

News & Views

 

Rohan Silva defends the role of the State in Elon Musk's success...

... while Bryan Appleyard praises the man's "hint of madness" in The Times

Eddie Copeland blogs on innovation in the delivery of public services

Venture investment in UK fintech more than doubles...

... but Karl Flinders worries that fintech funding will suffer if the Brexit deal goes sour

Yessi Bello Perez quizzes Debbie Wosskow about how to scale

Is the NHS too fragmented when it comes to adopting new developments?

City AM profiles the prolific Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates

Richard Reed (Innocent Drinks) shares his tips on winning customers here...

... and his tips for small businesses getting funding here

Benjamin Joffe thinks Sequoia’s Mike Moritz doesn’t understand startups in China...

... which aims to charm tech-savvy Taiwanese entrepreneurs...

... while North Korea lets foreigners run bootcamps for entrepreneurs
 

Friends of the Network

Event


Workshop: Getting the Most from your Network
22 February, 2018
9am to 1pm
Albert House, 256-260 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DD
Cost: Non-members: £150 +VAT; Members £95 +VAT
Find out more
This four-hour interactive session aims to help attendees get the most from their network, ultimately driving success in both business and personal life. 

Competition


The Astra Awards
Deadline: 16 May 2018
Prize: There are various prizes for each category, ranging from co-working space in Blooms London, support from NACUE, access to Toucan's ecosystem and being fast-tracked straight to the Investment Committee
Find out more
Toucan Ventures, Blooming Founders and NACUE are coming together this Spring to bring you The Astra Awards - a competition to champion the creative community, female businesses and the very best students that the UK has to offer. 

Press Coverage: Seema Malthotra MP writes about female entrepreneurship in City AM

British men are nearly twice as likely as women to be entrepreneurs.

This isn’t just bad for entrepreneurship, but society at large suffers when the ideas of half the population aren’t adequately represented. Closing the gender entrepreneurship gap would ensure we no longer miss out on countless innovations, increase productivity, and raise wages...

Read the whole article here... 

Press Coverage: The Entrepreneurs Network launch Business Stay Up

Last year in the UK, 70 new businesses were started every hour.

In just three years’ time, up to 90 per cent of them will have failed.

Business failure is often a personal tragedy, though inevitable in a dynamic market economy.

However, not every failure is due to a lack of demand for a product or service – poor management can destroy what could otherwise be a successful business.

That’s why today we’re launching the Business Stay-Up campaign: a research project with The Entrepreneurs Network and the Centre for Education Economics that aims to increase understanding about the role of skills, knowledge, and experience in ensuring we have fewer unnecessary small business failures.

Read the full article here

 

Immigration Rules the Airwaves Monday, 5 February 2018

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The British public is often accused of obsessing over immigration, but we have a Prime Minister who could bore your average UKIPer to tears on the subject. This was understandable in a Home Secretary – however, Theresa May's job description is a little broader these days.

In the last week we've learned that May will fight a proposal to give residency rights to EU citizens during the transition period after Brexit, and that she's finally changed her mind about international students having a long-term impact on migration numbers. And today, the government has announced an increase in the immigration health surcharge, paid by temporary migrants from outside Europe to use the health service. It will double from its current rate of £200, although this is less than the £600 proposed in the Conservative Manifesto.

Hire Hopes
In its quarterly Enterprise Index survey, Smith & Williamson has found that though 66% of businesses are seeking new hires, only 38% believe that the workforce is sufficiently trained or educated to help them achieve their growth plans. As Guy Rigby concludes: "If Britain is to continue to be a world-leading place for entrepreneurs to start their businesses, and for these businesses to transition to scale-ups, we need to ensure the workforce has adequate capacity. As a lot of this talent currently comes from overseas, Brexit has brought the need for an accessible work-related visa into the public eye."

Import, Export
If there's one thing that the Government obsesses over more than immigration, it's increasing Britain's exports. Immigrants can help with that. A robust new discussion paper shows that Italian immigrants – both of entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs – have boosted trade with their home countries. Immigrants bring knowledge about their countries of origin and retain long-lasting relationships with their co-nationals. Both the size of the diaspora and the number of immigrant entrepreneurs have a positive, significant and economically meaningful effect on exports. The paper also finds that immigrants increase the competitiveness and export flows towards all potential destinations.
 

Our Survey

APPG for Entrepreneurship: 2018 Survey
Your answers will serve as the raw data on which we base three briefing papers designed to impact policy.
Tell politicians what you think!


Our Events

Leap 100 Power Breakfast Rishi Khosla, Co-Founder, OakNorth
From Start-up, to Scale up, to Sale...then Doing it Again
7 February 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free (as usual!)
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: the challenges of starting and scaling a business; the lessons of exiting; the difference of building a business for the second time.

Female Founders Forum Launch: Mentoring Matters
15 March 2018
19-23 Featherstone Street, Blooming Founders, London
6pm to 8pm
Free
Find out more
RSVP
Join us for our launch of the 2018 report on the importance of mentoring for female entrepreneurs. We're very excited to announce our keynote as Vin Murria! 


News & Views

Friends of the Network

Events

Spark with Michelle Ovens MBE
13 February 2018
7pm to 9pm
Connections at 8 Northumberland Avenue, Central London, WC2N 5BY
Free
Find out more
Spark is a monthly evening networking event that brings the capital’s top entrepreneurs and career professionals together to connect, collaborate and get inspired. 

Getting the Most from your Network
22 February 2018
9am to 1pm
The Office Group, Albert House, 256-260 Old Street, London EC1V 9DD
Cost: Non-members: £150 +VAT
Supper Club Members only: £95 +VAT
Find out more
Attendees of this workshop will learn how to purposefully build network and accelerate personal and business growth.

E2E #ScaleUp2Success
27 February 2018
5pm to 9pm
Spaces, 9 Greyfriars Road, Reading, RG1 1NU
Cost: SCALEUP18 for a the complimentary ticket. Otherwise £30
Find out more
E2E hosts an evening of drinks & canapés in conversation with Tim Weller, Founder of Incisive Media and Rob Law MBE, Founder of Trunki.

Make It Your Business: London
1 March 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
The Bull Theatre, 68 High Street, Barnet, London EN5 5SJ
Cost: £10 (Or free if you become a member)
RSVP
Join Make It Your Business for a panel event with guest speakers: Karen Wright (founder, Love Feet); Dr Mandy Kent (founder, Hadley Green Dental Practice); Laura Milligan (founder, Laura Felicity Design) and Louise Bawcutt (owner, The Present)


Competitions

Student Start-up of the Year competition
Deadline: 25 February 2018
Prizes: A host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow, including cash investment.
Find out more
Enterprise Nation has relaunched its Student Start-up of the Year competition, powered by Enterprise Trust. The competition provides young people and recent graduates with the opportunity to win a host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow. 

Question Time

Today the APPG for Entrepreneurship launches its first survey aimed at uncovering the views of Britain's business owners. Your answers will serve as the raw data on which we base three briefing papers. The reports will be read by Ministers and others with the power to make a difference. You can find the survey here. Also, I would be grateful if you could share within your networks.

Tweet dreams
Are digital distractions harming labour productivity? The evidence is mixed, according to this article in The Economist. Over the next few months, we will be supporting The Economist in its drive to get its content in front of a wider audience. During this time we will share access to some of their key articles, usually only available to subscribers and registered users. I've chosen these articles because I believe they will be of interest to our readers. Click here to read the latest article.

Food for thought
Our friends at The Supper Club have put out a highly useful Talent Tactics report, which may be be helpful for business leaders wondering how to recruit, retain and develop millennial talent.

Calling all female entrepreneurs!
We've been hosting speed mentoring events around the country. The most recent was in Manchester and my colleague Sophie has written about the experience here. Sophie is writing a report on mentoring for the next stage of the project. If you would like to find out more, please drop here an email at sophie@tenentrepreneurs.org

 

Our Events

A Parliament That Works For Entrepreneurs?
Panelists include: Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP & Gillian Keegan MP
31 January 2018
12.45pm to 2.15pm
50 Broadway, Westminster, London
Free
Find you more
RSVP
This event will consider: how MPs can improve their understanding of what entrepreneurs need; how Parliament can better engage with entrepreneurs and discuss policy changes and how entrepreneurs can influence Government, politics and policy.


Leap 100 Power Breakfast Rishi Khosla, Co-Founder, OakNorth
From Start-up, to Scale up, to Sale...then Doing it Again
7 February 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free (as usual!)
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: the challenges of starting and scaling a business; the lessons of exiting; the difference of building a business for the second time.


Female Founders Forum Launch: Mentoring Matters
15 March 2018
19-23 Featherstone Street, Blooming Founders, London
6pm to 8pm
Find out more
RSVP
Join us for our launch of the 2018 report on the importance of mentoring for female entrepreneurs.


News & Views

Friends of the Network

Events


Make It Your Business: London
23 January 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
Airspace, 29-31 Oxford Street, London
Cost: £10 (Or free if you become a member)
RSVP
Join Make It Your Business for a panel event with guest speakers: Katrina Sale, founder, Wisetree; Ada Zhao (Curated Crowd); Alice Wingfield Digby (Wingfield Digby) and Phoebe Gormley (Gormley & Gamble). 


Funzing Talks: Hack Your Mind Through Your Body
24 January 2018
7pm onwards
Trapeze, Shoreditch, London
Find out more
Alessandra Sollberger is uncovering the science that links fitness with productivity. 


Gamification in Insurance
30 January 2018
5pm to 9pm
Rocketspace, London
Cost: Free
Find out more
An Coppens, a leading expert in gamification design for employee and learner engagement, with over 15 years' experience in changing behaviour through creative and innovative solutions, will be giving a keynote into how gamification is relevant in the Insurance industry.


Spark with Michelle Ovens MBE
13 February 2018
Connections at 8 Northumberland Avenue, Central London, London
7pm to 9pm
Find out more
Spark is a monthly evening networking event that brings the capital’s top entrepreneurs and career professionals together to connect, collaborate and get inspired. 


Student Enterprise Conference
17 & 18 February 2018
10pm to 5pm
Aston University, Aston Express Way, Birmingham
Cost: £12.50 (using the code SECPARTNERS18)
Find out more
Join NACUE for two days of interactive workshops, panelled discussions and keynotes. Curated for a creative and innovative audience of 'Creators, Connectors and Captains'. 

Competitions

Student Start-up of the Year competition
Deadline: 25 February 2018
Prizes: A host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow, including cash investment.
Find out more
Enterprise Nation has relaunched its Student Start-up of the Year competition, powered by Enterprise Trust. The competition provides young people and recent graduates with the opportunity to win a host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow. 
 

Are digital distractions harming labour productivity?

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This article is sponsored content from The Economist. To enjoy more of the same, subscribe to The Economist, 12 weeks for £12.

The evidence is mixed; it seems clear, however, that they are making us unhappier

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FOR many it is a reflex as unconscious as breathing. Hit a stumbling-block during an important task (like, say, writing a column)? The hand reaches for the phone and opens the social network of choice. A blur of time passes, and half an hour or more of what ought to have been productive effort is gone. A feeling of regret is quickly displaced by the urge to see what has happened on Twitter in the past 15 seconds. Some time after the deadline, the editor asks when exactly to expect the promised copy. Distraction is a constant these days; supplying it is the business model of some of the world’s most powerful firms. As economists search for explanations for sagging productivity, some are asking whether the inability to focus for longer than a minute is to blame.

The technological onslaught has been a long time building. Bosses no doubt found the knock of the telegraph boy or the clack of the ticker-tape machine an abominable interruption. Fixed-line desk phones were an intrusion in their day, before the mobile phone brought work interruptions into the home. But the web is different, with its unending news cycle, social networks humming with constant conversation, and news feeds algorithmically structured to keep users scrolling and sharing. The louder the din, the greater the distraction—and the harder to tune it out for fear of missing important information.

Distractions clearly affect performance on the job. In a recent essay, Dan Nixon of the Bank of England pointed to a mass of compelling evidence that they could also be eating into productivity growth. Depending on the study you pick, smartphone-users touch their device somewhere between twice a minute to once every seven minutes. Conducting tasks while receiving e-mails and phone calls reduces a worker’s IQ by about ten points relative to working in uninterrupted quiet. That is equivalent to losing a night’s sleep, and twice as debilitating as using marijuana. By one estimate, it takes nearly half an hour to recover focus fully for the task at hand after an interruption. What’s more, Mr Nixon notes, constant interruptions accustom workers to distraction, teaching them, in effect, to lose focus and seek diversions.

Could this explain the rich world’s productivity slowdown? In a paper published in 2007, Sinan Aral and Erik Brynjolfsson, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Marshall Van Alstyne, of Boston University, analysed firms’ use of information technology and its effects on labour productivity and revenue growth. They found an inverted U-shape pattern associated with multitasking and productivity. An initial increase in multitasking from the increased use of IT seems to raise productivity. But later, the accumulation of balls to be juggled reduces performance and increases the incidence of error.

It does help workers in all sorts of ways. It speeds communication and allows documents to be shared remotely. The web makes finding information far simpler and quicker than it was in a world of paper archives. Productivity surged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as e-mail, digital databases and the web spread. The benefits technology brought, at that time, seemed to outweigh the cost of distraction. Since the mid-2000s, however, productivity growth has tumbled, perhaps because the burden of distraction has crossed some critical threshold.

But this is surely not the whole story. Performance across industries does not fit very well with the idea that distraction is the main cause of weak productivity. Over the past decade, labour-productivity growth in both manufacturing and construction has been particularly disappointing—and the problem can hardly be desk jockeys frittering away time on Pinterest.

Weak productivity is also a consequence of the reallocation of workers from industries with relatively high rates of growth to more stagnant ones. In America health care and education, where labour productivity is persistently low, account for more than half of total employment growth since 2000.

How then to reconcile evidence of the toll taken by new technologies with the difficulty in detecting a productivity cost? One possibility is that firms have not been as strenuous as might be expected in maximising output per worker. Employment does not fall much in response to minimum-wage rises because output per worker goes up. That is partly because workers try harder and partly because firms, faced with a new cost, focus more on tracking worker performance. Similarly, productivity leapt in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, and not because firms laid off less productive workers. Rather, workers appear to have upped their game to convince bosses not to sack them. After a decade of low wages and high profits, firms may be feeling complacent. That, and their consequent failure to invest, may be a better explanation of weak productivity than workers’ distraction.

Tweet dreams are made of this

Whether or not brains fried by constant interruption are slowing growth, the digital deluge takes a toll. Mr Nixon reckons that distracted workers become less empathetic, a serious side-effect in an economy where human connections with customers are cast as a defence against automation. Distraction also appears to reduce reported happiness, and that effect may be magnified if it means that fewer tasks are completed to the workers’ satisfaction—or if the source of the distraction is another distressing news alert. So this is yet another reason to yearn for a truly tight labour market: when firms cannot spare an idle moment they might get serious about trimming productivity-sapping intrusions from the workplace, to everyone’s benefit. Right, time for a tweet.

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This article is sponsored content from The Economist. To enjoy more of the same, subscribe to The Economist, 12 weeks for £12.

Female Founders Forum: Mentoring Matters

 Credit: Craig Strong Photography

Credit: Craig Strong Photography

Last year we wrote a report on access to funding for female founders. One of our recommendations was to increase access to mentoring for women scaling their businesses. This year we acted upon that recommendation and have held three mentoring sessions across the UK. Our first session in London was a great success, as was Cambridge, and on Thursday we finally we arrived in Manchester.

The format of the event is similar to speed dating. Each mentee spends six minutes with a mentor, and then the mentee moves on to the next mentor. Mentees seek advice on how to solve their biggest challenges, all of which are shared with the mentors prior to the event to maximise the utility of the six minutes.

After a few speeches, cups of tea and chatting, the mentoring commences. The first six minutes flies by. It’s always difficult to drag the mentee away from their first mentor; it doesn’t get any easier as the day goes on. All the founders always seem engrossed in the sessions – a sure that there should be more mentoring events available to female founders!

One thing that I noticed talking to the female founders on both sides, mentees and mentors, is that a lot of them experience loneliness. This seems to be an aspect of running your own business that few people talk about. Mentoring events like these let entrepreneurs realise that their hiccups and worries are experienced and felt by others. Often, the best paired founders are those in completely different sectors. It’s more about finding a spark with someone, rather than finding someone in the same sector.

The mentoring sessions have been incredibly insightful for our annual report, which this year is taking the form of a practical guide for scaling female entrepreneurs. It will comprise of six sections: why mentoring matters, hiring, innovation, leadership, work/life balance and pitching. The aim of the first section is to inspire female entrepreneurs across the board to take part in mentoring. The other sections are focused around a skill: each section will open with research around those skills, followed by insights from female entrepreneurs excelling in that skill.

If you would like to give you two cents and be featured in the report, please drop me a message on sophie@tenentrpereneurs.org

Press Coverage: The Telegraph, Female Founders Forum Report 2017

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Our Editor and author of the 2017 report on female founder's access to finance, was recently quoted in The Telegraph.

"It's frustrating that a significant proportion of funding goes towards male-founded or led businesses," ... "This is not just an economic discussion, though we know start-ups are vital to the UK economy: we want to see smart, savvy businesswomen getting the same opportunities as their male counterparts."

Check out the full article here. 

No Small Change

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Andrew Griffiths MP is the new Minister for Small Business. He takes over from Margot James MP, who moves to DCMS. Margot's knowledge isn't completely lost though, as she will be overseeing digital policy. Griffiths is Member of Parliament for Burton and Uttoxeter. Prior to getting involved in politics, he worked for his family engineering business and then in property and finance for a High Street Building Society. He was previously Chief of Staff to Theresa May and Eric Pickles. Here's his Parliament page, his personal website and a useful Economia article. I'm sure we will have him in for an event before too long.

Calling all techies!
Tech Nation launches its 2018 survey today. Your responses will be included in Tech City UK’s flagship Tech Nation report 2018, which will comprehensively map the state of the digital tech sector in the UK. Complete the survey here.

Evidence-based businesses
London Business School has released its key findings from the inaugural Leadership Survey (pdf). Employee engagement was the single biggest issue keeping leaders awake at night. There's a lot to unpack from the report, but one finding that interested me was that only 2% of business leaders said interventions executed in their organisations are always evidence-based, while 20% believe it happens often, 39% sometimes, 28% rarely and 11% never.

All-Party people
In case you missed it, check out the APPG for Entrepreneurship's Calls for Evidence on Tax ReformEnterprise Education and Women in Leadership.

 

Our Events

A Parliament That Works For Entrepreneurs?
Panelists include: Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP & Gillian Keegan MP
31 January 2018
12.45pm to 2.15pm
50 Broadway, Westminster, London
Free  (as usual!)
RSVP
This event will consider: how MPs can improve their understanding of what entrepreneurs need; how Parliament can better engage with entrepreneurs and discuss policy changes and how entrepreneurs can influence Government, politics and policy.


Leap 100 Power Breakfast Rishi Khosla, Co-Founder, OakNorth
From Start-up, to Scale up, to Sale...then Doing it Again
7 February 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free (as usual!)
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: the challenges of starting and scaling a business; the lessons of exiting; the difference of building a business for the second time.


News & Views

Friends of the Network

Events

Make It Your Business: London
23 January 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
Airspace, 29-31 Oxford Street, London
Cost: £10 (Or free if you become a member)
RSVP
Join Make It Your Business for a panel event with guest speakers: Katrina Sale, founder, Wisetree; Ada Zhao (Curated Crowd); Alice Wingfield Digby (Wingfield Digby) and Phoebe Gormley (Gormley & Gamble). 

Gamification in Insurance
30 January 2018
5pm to 9pm
Rocketspace, London
Cost: Free
Find out more
An Coppens, a leading expert in gamification design for employee and learner engagement, with over 15 years experience in creating behaviour change through creative and innovative solutions, will be giving a keynote into how gamification is relevant in the Insurance industry.

The Leap Academy – Restructuring for Growth
14 February 2018
8.30pm to 10.30pm
Africa House, 70 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6AH
Cost: Free
RSVP
Join Mishcon for a workshop on how restructuring can best position your business for growth. This session will look at the following: Common reasons to restructure – why do it?; How to prepare for restructuring and how long might it take?; What does restructuring entail, what form can it take?; What are the big tax issues?; What are the big pitfalls/what to anticipate? Speakers include Laura Chandler, Corporate Legal Director and Head of Reorganisations Group at Mishcon de Reya and John Skoulding, Corporate Tax Partner at Mishcon de Reya.

Student Enterprise Conference
17 & 18 February 2018
10pm to 5pm
Aston University, Aston Express Way, Birmingham
Cost: £12.50 (using the code SECPARTNERS18)
Find out more
Join NACUE for two days of interactive workshops, panelled discussions and keynotes. Curated for a creative and innovative audience of 'Creators, Connectors and Captains'. 

Getting the Most from your Network
22 February 2018
9am to 1pm
The Office Group, Albert House, 26-260 Old Street, London
Cost: Non-members: £150 +VAT (£95 for members)
Find out more
In this session attendees will learn how to purposefully build their network to accelerate personal and business growth.  
 


Competitions

Student Start-up of the Year competition
Deadline: 25 February 2018
Prizes: A host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow, including cash investment.
Find out more
Enterprise Nation has relaunched their Student Start-up of the Year competition, powered by Enterprise Trust. The competition provides young people and recent graduates with the opportunity to win a host of prizes to help you and your business ideas flourish and grow. 

 

This is taken from our weekly e-bulletin published on 15th January 2018. Sign up here.

Cool for Evidence

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This is taken from our weekly e-bulletin published on 8th January 2018. Sign up here.

Today, we launch a Call for Evidence on behalf of the APPG for Entrepreneurship. Well, actually, three "calls". We are looking for experts to respond to questions on Tax ReformEnterprise Education and Women in Leadership. Please spread the word! The projects are sponsored by Octopus and Santander Universities, and the research and writing of these publications is independent and will be undertaken by the team here at The Entrepreneurs Network.

Ker-Shuffle
The cabinet reshuffle is increasingly looking like a damp squib, with Justine Greening's refusal to lead the Department for Work and Pensions the biggest story. Nevertheless, even for the politically unaligned (like me), there are a couple of positive changes. Matt Hancock is the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He is the most qualified person in the Conservative Party for the role and I expect he'll do a solid job. Also, Kemi Badenoch MP is now in charge of selecting Conservative candidates for 2022 general election. Kemi is smart and principled – hopefully she'll be good at spotting the same characteristics in others.


Our Events

Female Founders Forum
Mentoring Matters in Manchester
18 January 2018
12pm to 3pm
Barclays, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester
Enquire about a place
Join us in Manchester for our last speed mentoring session in this series. Check out this article on the Barclays website for a taster of what happens. 

Leap 100 Power Breakfast Rishi Khosla, Co-Founder, OakNorth
From Start-up, to Scale up, to Sale...then Doing it Again
7 February 2018
7.45am to 9.15am
Mishcon de Reya, 70 Kingsway, London
Free
Find out more
RSVP
This event will consider: the challenges of starting and scaling a business; the lessons of exiting; the difference of building a business for the second time.

News & Views


Friends of the Network

Events

StartUp 2018
13 January 2018
9.30am to 4pm
Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London
Cost: £10
Find out more
Join Enterprise Nation for a day of talks and workshops.

The Nest 2018
16 January 2018
9am to 7pm
The Andaz, Liverpool Street, London
Cost: Free
Find out more
The Nest aims to engage creative entrepreneurs by providing them with a day of networking with inspiring mentors, listening to engaging speakers and learning more about the Toucan ecosystem. Expect talks from Tom Teichman, Rupert Hambro, Tim Jackson, Fiona Dent and Lu Li.

Founders' Network Summit
18 January 2018
9am to 6pm
Holiday Inn Sheffield, Victoria Station Road, Sheffield
Cost: £25
Find out more
A day long event aiming to support entrepreneurs on their journey. 

Make It Your Business: London
23 January 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
Airspace, 29-31 Oxford Street, London
Cost: £10 (Or free if you become a member)
RSVP
Join Make It Your Business for a panel event with guest speakers: Katrina Sale, founder, Wisetree; Ada Zhao (Curated Crowd); Alice Wingfield Digby (Wingfield Digby) and Phoebe Gormley (Gormley & Gamble).  

Back to Business - Taking the Next Steps
25 January 2018
9.30pm to 3pm
Elm Grove, University of Roehampton, London
Cost: £56 (includes lunch)
Find out more
A day of talks, practical roundtables and networking around the following areas: support on social media and content creation, marketing strategy, Google/SEO and funding and investment. 

Speaker Boutique: International Expansion to Scale
28 February 2018
2.30pm to 5.30pm
Central London (TBC)
Cost: £66
Find out more
The first Speaker Boutique of 2018 will explore the risks and rewards of expanding internationally, looking at why, when, and how to launch into a new overseas market. Three members of The Supper Club will share their experience and expertise.

This is taken from our weekly e-bulletin published on 8th January 2018. Sign up here.