Entrepreneurship Society host inspirational Flagship Conference 2021
The Flagship Conference's theme was 'Opportunities Found in Uncertainty' and it was hosted online by Karin Zhang-Wei and Sarah Mohd-Haslizan, the society's Co-Presidents. They kicked things off by introducing the event's guest speakers and first to speak was Ollie Purdue, a Partner at tech venture-capital firm Antler. Ollie delivered a keynote speech that explored his personal entrepreneurial journey and the importance of being emotionally invested in a business idea to make it a reality. He also explored some of the trends that can cause innovative entrepreneurs to emerge in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the new business opportunities and challenges posed by the global lockdown.
The second keynote speech featured Eve Fry and Amanda McDowell, who co-founded reusable drinks container business Cupple. They spoke to the audience about how the pandemic had enabled them to widen their business network online and iterated the importance for young entrepreneurs of being open to change.
The event then held a panel discussion, covering the topic of growing a business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel featured Jennifer Manson, co-founder of community-moderated social network Podium, Shelley Lawson, co-founder of children's bicycle company Frog Bikes, and Jacob Simmons, co-founder of second-hand clothing sales platform Esooko. Each panelist spoke about their business to the audience and the effects of COVID-19 on the markets they are in, with Shelley highlighting how the broader effects of the pandemic can create new consumer needs, with the increasing trend of exercise during lockdown causing a large demand for bikes. Jacob added that the pandemic has also resulted in an increased environmental consciousness across the country, which has impacted on the sustainability concerns within the fashion industry, and Jennifer emphasised that genuinely caring about the product or service you are delivering is key for any new business to succeed.
A subsequent panel discussion followed soon after, exploring how business leaders have adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. The panel featured Patricia Salume, co-founder of online payment platform VeeLoop, Weerada Sucharitkul, founder of film and video educational platform Filmdoo, and Ed Robinson, co-founder of personal finance app Stash. Patricia began the talk by speaking about how her business was able to utilise an opportunity and expand beyond VeeLoop into a new venture called vHelp, a payment service to support volunteers shopping for vulnerable people in lockdown. Weerada added that Filmdoo had used transitioned in the pandemic to online teaching to accelerate their interactive online learning tool and Ed concluded the panel by raising some solutions for working remotely as part of a team.
The final keynote speech was by Sam Hyams, the Managing Director at early careers network Springpod. Sam spoke about the need to improve careers advice within schools and the opportunities for students to improve their entrepreneurial skillset, such as work experience and virtual open days. These sentiments were echoed by Jurek Sikorski, HCfE's Executive Director, who emphasised that the main point to take from the Flagship Conference was that enterprise remains alive through the resilience of entrepreneurs, with new opportunities out there waiting to be discovered.
Concluding the event, Karin said: "We hope that the conference has been helpful to inspire any budding entrepreneur in the audience and has proven through the valuable advice and evidence from our speakers that there is always room for opportunity, regardless of the environment."