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Business & Economy

Newcastle Startup Week kicks off with a day of inspiration

Newcastle Startup Week returns with a week of city-wide events to inspire, engage and educate attendees.

Aptly, for an event focused on startups the first day was centred around ‘inspiration’.

Exhibitors were set-up around the The Boiler Shop, offering an abundance of opportunities for networking and building connections. This included Knight Frank, a commercial estate agents offering space for co-working and startups particularly in The Gradient. It has been developed as a solution to prevent a brain drain in the local economy by ensuring local talent is not lost to other cities.

Paul Lancaster paid tribute to a significant sponsor Sage Accounting. managing director Lee Perkins stressed, in a pre-recorded message that small businesses are essential to the economy, and felt a solidarity with the startups stating ‘we were a small company once’.

To start off the week of events, various prospective businesses appealed for investment and connections.

These included a platform called Goalbridge, an online platform established by Ben Mason, who utilised his 16 years of experience in education, to create the concept. Its purpose is to connect business and education. It is a platform for school children to upload their projects, for universities or prospective employers to observe and create more engagement and opportunity.

In addition, Lizzy Hodcroft, declared ‘war on the mundane’, with her unique and flavourful selection of condiments. She is also a self appointed ‘pioneer of condiments’, noting a small loss after only one year in business., but remains optimistic about the future with predictions of 130,000 units of sales in the second year of operation. It currently sells in 70 locations in the UK.

Inspiration, ambition, and drive are more than buzzwords for 4Networking, established by key speaker Brad Burton.

4Networking is a multi-million pound, networking organisation established by Brad Burton, to help cooperation between various businesses and ideas in an informal way. He spoke passionately about overcoming various difficulties to become a best-selling author of such business titles as “Get off your Arse”. Often cited as the highest rated business book on Amazon. The top motivational speaker also warned the audience on the perils of success. Equating the pressure of balancing a successful business and a healthy life like a jenga set. The point was poetically put forward with a story of a millionaire divorcee friend, who was showing Brad a private cinema room with 40 seats. To which Brad pithily replied ‘now all you need is 38 other mates’.

Ultimately, he informed the audience that they should be only concerned with their own race, and to avoid comparisons to other individuals or businesses.

Startup Week wanted to bring back some success stories from the first year of the conference with its 12 Months Later feature.

Holly Thompson, established FSV (Future Skills Vision) in 2016, with ‘no idea where it was going, or whether it would work’. A service that streamlines recruiting and training, saving some companies up to 50% of their budget on that expenditure. But after her involvement with Newcastle Startup Week, she found her footing with 9 members of staff, operating in the North East, Manchester, Leeds, and London. In the next 18 months she is looking to expand into Scotland and Ireland.

Nebula Labs founders Nic Flynn and Dylan McKee, also spoke about their journey from simply a concept, to a notable app developing business with 5 members of staff, currently based in Campus North in Newcastle.

Key speaker Kari Owers, founder of O Communications talked extensively about beginning her public relations and media company, how it tackled recent adversities including the changing media landscape and content delivery services such as Twitter, and the decline of traditional media currents. The company has worked with Dr Martens, using hyperlocal branding and ‘influencers’ for the Newcastle launch, resulting in record profits for a launch of Dr Martens.

Finally, Brain Fanzo discussed the importance of intergenerational operation, especially as we are now working in spaces where four generations of people are working all in the same space. In addition the rate of change or obsolescence in technology is not to be feared so much as embraced.

We are looking forward to Day 2!

Words: Austen Shakespeare