Entrepreneurs share top tips with start-ups at DMU

Successful entrepreneurs shared the highs and lows of their business journeys at an event packed with top tips, practical advice and inspiration for start-ups.

Coworking Neil

Neil Clough, finalist on BBC’s The Apprentice and now company boss; Matt Bird, who owns luxury clothing brand We Are Gntlemen and Pritesh Vegad, founder of designer jewellery brand Diamond Boutique were all in the hot seat for the first Connect At the Co-Working Café held at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Innovation Centre.

Coworking Matt

The event, part of the Leicester Business Festival, marked the launch of a new free monthly series for businesspeople in Leicester. Every month, the Innovation Centre will bring in speakers and host events designed to help businesses to grow and make new connections.

Coworking Dana

Matt said co-working spaces such as the Innovation Centre were invaluable to entrepreneurs. He said: “Always go to a co working space. You will meet people on the same journey as you. last year, I was part of an accelerator programme with 80 people. It felt like I had 80 people on my team.”

Together with Percy Emmett, a mentor on the DMU start-up programme The Crucible , they shared top tips for would-be entrepreneurs:

•      Find your why – the reason that you are in businesses. “50% of your business success is your reason why,” said Neil. “Setting up a business is one of the hardest things we all do. What is going to keep you going when times get tough?”

•      Do you take yourself out of your comfort zone, or do you just do what you have to do? Push yourself to do more.

•      Discover what makes your business different, what makes you stand out. This is your brand story, and your USP.

•      Test your business idea by asking people you trust for their feedback. If they like it, then find people in that industry to approach.

Matt revealed how he got his idea for We Are Gntlemen while watching TV series The Only Way is Essex. He said: “I wanted to reinvent the nice guy again. I saw a lot of people being informed by this wrong lifestyle on TOWIE. I had this message and it became my clothing brand.

“The business has taken me to Japan, Korea, China, Spain. You have to live your brand, and if you do your message will get across.”

Neil, who had spent years in sales before being selected as one of Lord Sugar’s potential business partners, now runs This is Prime, a graduate recruitment agency. He shared behind the scenes stories of The Apprentice, and how it led to him setting up the company which trains sales staff.

He said: “It was a fantastic experience and taught me so much about business, and about myself.”

The next Connect @ the Co-working Café event will take place within a week of events hosted by The Innovation Centre during Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 13 to 17.  It will feature an exclusive video interview with Ronan Keating, in which he talks about his new business venture, and a live presentation from Cocoa Amore founder, Pete Gardner. Tickets are free, however pre-registration is essential. Click here to register.

Posted on Monday 30th October 2017

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