March 2, 2017, by Elizabeth Smith
“Collaboration equals innovation” – Michael Dell
Last week, the University of Nottingham’s most iconic building had over 300 entrepreneurs walk through its doors.
The Ingenuity17 Conference was a chance for teams to develop their business ideas in a supportive, collaborative and innovative environment. With over 60 mentors with entrepreneurial backgrounds ranging from app creation, brand development, IP law, and everything else in between! Hosted by Head of The Ingenuity Lab, Steve Chapman, the three-day event was designed to inspire and support competition entrants, and foster co-operation between entrepreneurial minds.
Paving the way
Across the three days, we had a range of guest speakers attend, tell their entrepreneurial stories, and share their insights and advice with the budding entrepreneurs present. Alongside our fantastic spread of speakers that included University of Nottingham Alumni, leaders from the marketing industry, and experienced venture capitalists, we were also incredibly lucky to have keynote speeches from High Sheriff of Nottingham Judy Naaké.
“Fantastic speakers, insightful business advice, hilarious anecdotes and a refreshingly candid talk by multi millionaire Judy Naaké” – People of the Streets, Ingenuity17 entrant
Judy is best known for bronzing more celebrity bodies than we’ve had hot dinners, and after discovering the St Tropez tan in her late 40’s she was so confident in her product that she sunk all her savings into the business, leaving her struggling to pay the gas bill. She shared her journey from humble beginnings, to creating a household brand name from her garage in Beeston, tanning BOTH Beckhams and then selling the business for £70million.
“Events like this are important and to be an entrepreneur is different now; in my day I used to just sell things. Times have moved on and the market is much more sophisticated and time is of the essence – what the University is teaching entrants is how to really present their products and services correctly” – Judy Naaké, Keynote speaker at Ingenuity17
It was also fantastic to welcome University of Nottingham Alumnus and winner of Ingenuity16, Jonny Pryn, back to talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur, and the journey he has been on since walking away with £35,000 from last year’s competition. In his speech, he discussed the mistakes he has made since setting up his business, and the advice he has for those in a similar position. One which resonated with all the experienced entrepreneurs in the room was the need to take time to enjoy and celebrate the little things that occur when running a business. Whether that’s some positive feedback from a customer, having a fun lunch break with your team, or anything else that can be overlooked or forgotten about when the going gets tough.
“Find the human moment and enjoy it” – Jonny Pryn, Keynote speaker at Ingenuity17
Nottingham-based textile and homeware entrepreneur Tori Murphy also came to share her experiences and advice in building a successful brand. She founded Tori Murphy Ltd in 2012, with the aim of creating products for the home with character and integrity, and since then has worked hard to grow her creative English homeware brand. She has managed to develop the business from a one-woman band to an international company, with stockists including Selfridges, and is still based in her Sherwood factory.
“Being in Nottingham has completely shaped my business and it has been the best city I could have imagined, full of opportunities and a tremendous amount of textile manufacturing knowledge. Ingenuity17 will help competition entrants greatly because you don’t always know what you’re doing and will be making things up as you go along, so mentoring is essential” – Tori Murphy, Seminar speaker at Ingenuity17
The success of the ventures of entrepreneurs like Judy, Tori and Jonny are helping to pave the way for Nottingham to become a hotspot of entrepreneurial activity, and inspiring the next wave of influential entrepreneurs, many of whom walked through the doors of the Ingenuity17 Conference.
As well as support from mentors, the Ingenuity17 Conference was also an opportunity for teams to collaborate. Teams were split into 30 interdisciplinary Units for breakout sessions and spent the final day of the Conference preparing for the PeerPitch event together.
After spending the Sunday morning in their Units and giving one another peer mentoring, a nominated team within each Unit had to put the knowledge they had gained over the three days into practice and pitch their business idea in front of everyone. There was great energy in The Great Hall as each Unit representative pitched their idea, and was great to see their fellow Unit members getting behind them!
“Thank you for making the Ingenuity17 Conference such a successful and enjoyable one – YoMama definitely found it very beneficial” – YoMama, Ingenuity17 entrant
University of Nottingham Alumna, Emma Hartley (Product Design and Manufacture, 2015) entered Ingenuity17, inspired by a heart-breaking story of a friend passing away after suffering a cardiac arrest at the mere age of 21. After getting through the People’s Choice Awards representing Unit 24, she had to pitch her idea in front of the judging panel, which consisted of Professor Simon Mosey, Mel Berry, and Professor Rob Carroll. Through winning the PeerPitch event, her whole Unit was awarded the prize of free mentoring support in preparation for the Ingenuity17 Pitch Final, happening in March.
“Ingenuity17 was an invaluable experience – it has given me so much more confidence in my business idea, and the mentors were so enthusiastic and supportive. I’ve never done any public speaking, so pitching my business to 300 people was daunting, but the Conference helped me to prepare. I was up against so many brilliant businesses that it was a very happy surprise that I won, and I can’t wait to see what the next stages of the competition will bring” – Emma Hartley, Winner of Ingenuity17 PeerPitch
We look forward to seeing how the entrants’ business ideas develop between now and the Business Plan submission deadline on 10th March.
We hope all of those who attended the Ingenuity17 Conference had a fun, inspiring and insightful time. As a member or mentor of The Ingenuity Lab, there are plenty more opportunities to get involved with events that can develop entrepreneurial minds. Please visit our website to find out more.