18th November 2016
This week was Global Entrepreneurship Week. To celebrate, the Virgin Media Business Voom and Virgin Media Pioneers communities joined forces to give each community’s members the skills they need to grow their business. This forms part of one of our 2020 sustainability goals – to create the opportunities for 100,000 small businesses to grow in the UK and Irish economies through digital.
The programme of events included inspirational talks and masterclasses across London to help small business owners make their big ideas happen. Each session began with a discussion panel featuring leaders from across many industries, followed by a masterclass tackling five essential topics to help the audience grow their business.
The content was also live streamed via Periscope on the @VMPioneers Twitter page, to ensure that as many business founders as possible could benefit. We will be tracking the impact of the event and have asked each participant to make pledges which we will track over a period of time.
We received positive feedback from all panellists and guests, and social media coverage was also very active with 50 accounts tweeting about our events each day. All the content and insights from the week are available at virginmedia.com/pioneers.
Below is a summary of what each day was focussed on and who are key speakers were:
Topic: Take on challenges
Panellists: Samantha Clarke (Founder of Samantha&), Dan Cluderay (Founder of Approved Foods), Bejay Mulenga (Founder of SupaTuck) and Chelsea Parsons (Founder of Well and Happy)
Kicking off day one, the panellists spoke about how to overcome the challenges of founding a business. Samantha Clarke then led the masterclass and inspired the room with practical tips for reforming thought processes to get the best results. Samantha’s advice to our audience was to take time to see what your challenges are, re-evaluate your challenges from different angles and find ways to practise overcoming challenges each day.
Topic: Tell your story
Panellists: Harriet Minter (Broadcaster and Journalist), Samantha Park (Founder of What’s About Town), Chico Slimani (Founder of BlockFit), Hannah Mills (Sales Account Executive at Twitter) and Alexis Oladipo (Founder of Gym Bites)
Based in Twitter HQ, Tuesday’s panellists spoke about the different ways they get their business noticed. Harriet Minter then led the masterclass and challenged our audience to find the one thing that tells their story and sets them apart from their competition. Harriet told the audience to discover what exactly your story is; be more emotive, not descriptive; focus on why you’re doing something, not what it is; and discover what network is best for you.
Topic: Build your brand
Panellists: Emma Sexton (Founder of Make Your Words Work), Ernestina Potts (Founder of MilkTooth and Head of Campaigns at Virgin), Olly Bolton (Founder of What A Melon), Sam Moyo (Founder of Morning Gloryville) and Irene Agbontaen (Founder of TTYA London)
On Wednesday our panellists kicked off the day by speaking about they uncovered their brand’s personality. Emma Sexton then inspired the audience with insight about the day’s theme of “Are you ready to build your brand?”. Emma recommended that the entrepreneurs in the room focus on how their community can emotionally relate to their brand, have a clear idea of what they want their brand to reflect and consider all aspects of their basic brand package.
Topic: Change the world
Panellists: Albert Chong (Senior Leader at UnLtd), Jami Dixon (Senior Researcher at UnLtd), Andrew Hunt (Founder of Aduna), Ronke Oke (Founder of Emi and Ben) Becky Willan (Founder of Given London) and Julian Borra (Founder of Thin Air Factory)
Located in the Virgin Media Business VOOM HQ in Aldgate East, Thursday’s panellists spoke about what inspired them to start a mission led business. Albert Chong and Jami Dixon then led the masterclass on how best to approach making a social impact with your business. Their key messages for the audience was to ensure the purpose of the business is clear; make a public social pledge to keep you focused on what you want to achieve and build a big network to support your brand.
Topic: Pitch your piece
Panellists: David McQueen (Pitch Master), Bonnie Parsons (Founder of Seen on Screen), Jordan Daykin (Founder of Grip It), Megan Thomas (Founder of Full Fat PR), Wanita Bardouille (Director, Retail Sales and Brand Positioning at Ralph Lauren)
Our final day ended at Aldgate East with David McQueen acting as the host and masterclass lead. The panellists kicked off the event discussing how being able to pitch had helped their business grow. David then led us into his masterclass and gave away best practice secrets on improving your pitch. He recommended that the only way you can improve is by practicing, which is how several members of our audience impressively closed the event.