Entrepreneurship Society Flagship Conference 2022 inspires students to launch their own businesses
Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship's student led Entrepreneurship Society delivered their annual Flagship Conference event on 23 February 2022 in front of an audience of dozens of students.
Shlok Maheshwari, the Entrepreneurship Society President, opened the event alongside the society’s committee. They introduced the audience to the numerous experienced business leaders invited from across the Thames Valley as guest speakers. Many of these were already connected with Henley Business School through Henley Business Angels or as guest lecturers.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, gave the opening keynote speech. She delved into the rise of the side hustle since the pandemic and the shift to working preferences. She continued to speak about her personal journey when setting up Enterprise Nation and shared her key advice to any audience members looking to start their own business. Her top tips included using social platforms, securing funding through bartering or borrowing and finding a supportive network.
The next speaker was Frankie Fox, founder of The Foraging Fox and foodloop.earth. Frankie engaged the audience with how she started her journey to creating The Foraging Fox, beginning by making beetroot ketchup in her own kitchen to developing a range of condiments with listings in Sainsburys, Waitrose, Ocado and Walmart. She went on to highlight the importance of working with a purpose, sharing her tough decision to pivot The Foraging Fox during the COVID-19 pandemic and rediscovering her drive with an online course on sustainability leadership, which inspired her to start foodloop.earth.
Up next was Xavier Warburton, founder and CEO of Sentz. Xavier offered insights on finding a gap in the market and differentiating through strong marketing, as he had done when looking at the hard seltzer options on offer prior to starting his business. He added that finding new markets was just as important after the business had been created, highlighting how Sentz had pivoted to B2B during the pandemic and secured a partnership with WeightWatchers.
Harry Kimberley-Bowen, the third speaker, talked about how he had co-founded SpaceBands. Harry spoke about how he wanted to solve a problem, namely the difficulty of social distancing during the pandemic for professions such as teachers. Despite making over 30,000 sales, Harry noted the importance of working out new opportunities to expand by creating new products and working out an existing product’s 'end date'.
Harry was followed by Simon Kingsnorth, founder of Simon Kingsnorth Consultancy, whose talk focused on how entrepreneurs benefitted from continual learning and networking. He discussed the emergence of remote working since the pandemic and the opportunities and consumer spending changes from this. Simon's own marketing agency is run remotely and he shared that he had written books on the expanding space of digital marketing.
Bruce Bratley, founder of First Mile Limited, was the next speaker and he stressed the importance of sustainable businesses contributing to a circular economy. He also spoke about the human influence to build a resilient future as a generation and how the reduction in greenhouse gases and solving the issue of climate change is a huge business opportunity.
Babbu's co-founder, Charlie Rosier, was the penultimate speaker. Introducing the audience to the concept of a digital nursery, which Babbu set up to reduce inequality in education in the early and foundational years, Charlie highlighted how online learning for both children and adults has taken off since the pandemic.
The conference ended with a closing keynote speech by Alex Tatham, Managing Director of Westcoast. Alex shared how Westcoast had grown to become the largest privately owned business in the Thames Valley, turning over £3.6b in revenue in 2021. He noted that Westcoast's sales of cloud services to large organisations are just the tip of the iceberg, with the future of devices including smart glasses, foldable tech, the metaverse and more.
Reflecting on the event, Shlok said: "It was an honour to organise and host the Flagship Conference of the Reading Entrepreneurship Society! The learnings and lessons shared by industry leaders coming in from different sectors has broaden the perspective and vision for young entrepreneurs. A huge thank you to all our speakers for being a part of our event and supporting our society."