Venturefest North West is an event that brings together businesses, investors and academics to showcase some of the exciting innovations happening here in the north west.
The annual event is organised by the Business Growth Hub and other regional growth programmes, including the Liverpool City Region’s Local Growth Hub. Hosted by Vikas Shah, CEO of Swiscot Group and Co-Founder of 53 Degrees North, the event featured inspiring talks and panels, a pitch competition and an exhibition.
There were many speakers involved in the event, who all had their own stories to share of how they’d become successful business leaders and the challenges they faced. All of them were incredibly inspiring. Here, I share a few key points from some of the speakers that found really powerful.
Nitin Rai, Founder and MD of Oregon based Elevate Capital, spoke about his journey to becoming what he refers to as a “Venture-Mentor Capitalist”. Nitin left a job after experiencing bias while trying to progress in his career, before turning down a big job at Microsoft, to eventually finding a business opportunity while visiting the eye doctors. Now, he invests in and mentors start-ups founded or led by diverse and underrepresented entrepreneurs. Through all of these experiences, Nitin trusted his gut and did what felt right for him.
Later in the morning was the female entrepreneurs panel, which included Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at Natwest, Codilia Gapare, Founder at C-Lash, Lucy McEvoy, Co-Founder of 4Sisters, Jennie Riding, Co-counder of Ancorra Environmental Services and Nicola Weedall, Founder of Autopaid.
The panel shared their challenges as female entrepreneurs, particularly when raising funds for their businesses. The panellists shared stories of overcoming both conscious and unconscious bias. One panelist shared a story of her experience when raising money for her business whilst pregnant. She found herself anxious about the potential bias she may experience, and that she may be at a disadvantage because of assumptions that she couldn’t focus on a business whilst raising a family. The resilience of each of these entrepreneurs is truly inspiring and something that we can all learn from.
The final speaker of the day was Jenny Campbell, Founder and CEO of YourCash Europe and former Dragon on Dragons’ Den. Jenny spoke about her amazing journey to becoming an Entrepreneur and ‘Dragon’. From leaving school to start working in a bank at the age of 16, to her progression through the ranks of NatWest, challenging the norm all the way to undergoing a management buyout, before becoming a hands-on investor and mentor through Dragons’ Den.
There were many inspiring messages to take away from her speech. One thing that really stuck was when she told the audience to stay positive and whatever you think your limit is, you can achieve far more.
Aside from the talks, my favourite part of the event was seeing the amazing innovative companies based here in the north west. Here are some of the businesses that I found exciting.
- Seven Brothers Brewery, who use the cereal Kellogg’s can’t sell to make beer – a sustainable solution to food waste that has inspired other companies to find alternative uses for their food waste. I got some of their IPA after the event and it’s delicious.
- Dicey Tech, a company which is helping prepare young students for the future of work by teaching them digital skills through 3D printing.
- NG pod, a health technology company that is revolutionising the way nasogastric tube placement is tested using fibre-optic technology.
These are just few of the many companies showcased at the event, all doing really exciting things and doing the north west proud. I look forward to seeing what next year’s Venturefest North West brings!