Interviews

"Sometimes there are light bulb moments," says Unbound's Daniel Seal

7 min read

26 July 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

We can achieve a digital future if governments and corporates work together, says Daniel Seal. His business festival series, Unbound – is trying to make that digital dream a reality.

Working in the B2B community means you’re likely to attend events and conventions, and many of them. But do they deliver on their promises to blow minds and help entrepreneurs build their businesses? – Not always.

We meet one serial entrepreneur and ex-government figure, Daniel Seal, (he was one of the youngest elected officials to the London Borough of Barnet), who tells me how his own business festival brand Unbound is different from the rest.

Described as ‘bridging the gap between entrepreneurs, corporate business and governments to fuel a digital future,’ – it’s certainly a bold mission. Today, Seal hosts the festival series in cosmopolitan locations from Singapore, Bahrain to our very own London. But where did the eureka, or ‘lightbulb’ moment come from?

Real Business, (RB): Where did the inspiration for Unbound come from?

Daniel Seal devised the Unbound series to help fast-track society towards a digital future. Source: Unbound

Daniel Seal, (DS): Sometimes there are light bulb moments, and sometimes it’s more gradual. The idea for Unbound came from the fact that corporates and governments were trying individually to engage with the innovation ecosystem, but there was a lack of joined-up thinking.

Governments were hosting events focused on start-ups and pitching to investors. At the same time, corporates were putting on events about innovation and how it should be encouraged.

At the time no one was bringing these different groups together and that’s where I saw the opportunity to connect these communities through Unbound.

RB: What does ‘a digital future’ look like to you?

DS: For me, a digital future is one where it’s as easy to order a taxi via an app as it is to pay your taxes online. Innovation in the digital space is about streamlining products, processes, and procedures to make life better and easier for the end-user – be they a taxpayer or a consumer. It’s also about modernising and addressing the needs of the consumer at the same speed as which we are disrupting the way we do things.

RB: How about critics who believe that business conventions are a vehicle for self-promotion?

DS: If that was what Unbound was about, I’d have chosen a career in advertising instead! Unbound is different because we provide an opportunity for a two-way interaction between our speakers and our attendees.

Speakers can share their thoughts and opinions but also, and crucially, our audiences can explore and clarify those views.

People that speak at our events – whether they’re senior business leaders, ministers or royalty – truly value Unbound for that – and that’s why we have not only a fantastic calibre of panellists, but also a growing number of attendees in our audiences.

RB: What’s the secret to planning and executing an inspiring business convention? 

DS: The litmus test for me is that I wouldn’t let people sit through something I wouldn’t sit through myself or spend time queuing up for. I aim to put on events where you can meet good people, have great networking conversations and ultimately events that are as enjoyable as they are informative.

RB: What does a business audience look to get out of them?

DS: Unbound audiences know they will gain insight into the latest trends in business innovation as well as where and what the potential opportunities for them to grow their business are – and how they can access them. The real benefit of Unbound though is that the attendees get to meet each other to share knowledge, exchange ideas and create business partnerships.

RB: Is there a manual for business success? 

DS: You can learn from successful business leaders and pick up hints and tips from them to apply to your situation, but ultimately there is no ‘secret formula’ for business success.

If there was a manual for success, everybody would do it.

My belief is that success in business is based on several factors including luck, opportunity, the business environment and being in the right place at the right time.

That said, if there actually was a formula for business success it would be: work hard, never give up and always try to make something positive happen.

RB: What 3 things do you believe enabled Unbound to grow to where it’s at today?

DS: First and foremost, the great team that we have brought together who work hard and pull out all the stops. Secondly, having a brilliant product which we are constantly making better. Thirdly, being in the right place at the right time.

As we see in the world around us, economies are shifting to be digital-centric and start-up led with governments and corporates all looking to promote innovation, whether that’s in London, Singapore, the Middle East – or beyond.

RB: What things should organisers avoid when launching a business festival?

DS: Delegate! Avoid trying to do everything yourself. You really can’t do it all. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid hard work, in fact, it’s the opposite, embrace it!

Also, don’t forget about customer experience. Your audience is who matters most to the success of your event and the bottom line…