It’s in some ways testament to the recession that entrepreneurs and small business have been climbing ever-faster in the cool stakes. "Small businesses will bring Britain back from the brink!" scream headlines. "More entrepreneurs in government!" shout PR-savvy ministers.
"Celebrity entrepreneurs" like Peter Jones and Philip Green are just as at home in the gossip columns as they are in the FT. Now, it seems the popularity of entrepreneurs and businesspeople has trickled down to Generation Y.
Fishtank Festival is a day-long event merging the schools of art, music, culture and business through a series of performances, screenings, shows and talks. Sure, there’s a troupe of burlesque dancers for the salacious-minded, but they are soon followed by a talk from Fraser Doherty, founder of Superjam and entrepreneurial child prodigy.
Doherty started his business at the age of 16, creating a brand that now supplies most of the major multiples in the UK. At Fishtank, Doherty will explain how he launched his business and took it from a kitchen-table operation to a £0.5m turnover business. "I will share the story of how SuperJam became the fastest-growing brand of jam in the UK since its launch in Waitrose three years ago," he says. "SuperJam is now exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland as an example of an ‘Iconic Scottish Food Brand’ and has been featured in advertising for the mobile phone company Orange. In my talk, I will share the ups and downs of setting up a company and some of the funny stories that I have picked up along the way."
For startups, SMEs, wannabe entrepreneurs and all-round curious folk, there are also a number of practical discussions about doing business and creating successful businesses.
Adam Goodyer founded Concert Live back in 2004. He’d been to a Massive Attack gig and wanted to own a recording of the live show. Today, his £1.5m-turnover firm produces concert CDs within six minutes of the end of the gig, or instantly with Goodyer’s new "Encore CDs": recordings that are burned up until the encore but contain a CDR or USB stick and a code for consumers to simply download the encore material from the Concert Live site.
Goodyer will talk about how entrepreneurs can manipulate their market to rise above the rest. "Having a good idea isn’t enough on its own," he says. "You have to use market knowledge about your competitors and customers to hone your business into a more attractive proposition."
Other speakers on the day include Jay Bregman, founder and whizzkid behind eCourier, who will be talking about technology in business and Nikhil Shah, who founded online radio business Mixcloud to bring great mixes to the masses. Shah is also the king of business bootstrapping and will be instructing entrepreneurs on how to launch a company on a tight budget. The event will be hosted by Alex Hearn, founder of Oxford Entrepreneurs and pharmatech startup Kind Consumer.
So, if you fancy mixing business with pleasure, check out Fishtank on 17 October at the Rag Factory. The event kicks off at 2pm and liquor will keep flowing until 11pm.
To find out more about Fishtank, or to buy tickets, visit www.fishtankfestival.com
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