High Position were recently the proud hosts of a free event for budding entrepreneurs at the Weston Homes Stadium – home of Colchester United FC. The event, titled “Witness the Birth of a Business”, was run in conjunction with Virgin Media Pioneers and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and was designed to enable budding entrepreneurs to witness for themselves what it takes to set up a business and inspire them to do the same.
The planning started several months ago after our Commercial Director, Terry Heffernan, was appointed Virgin Media Pioneers Ambassador for the East of England and was tasked with running an event to support local entrepreneurs. Aspiring to do something different to run of the mill PowerPoint slides & networking, Terry reached out to the High Position team for ideas. Following a suggestion from our ever creative Head of Paid Search, Mike Scanlon, we decided to act out the process of setting up an online business – albeit much speeded up and launched in the space of 1 day!
Selecting the Cast and Crew
Terry then got in touch with his various contacts to get them involved. First port of call was the FSB where, with perfect timing, we discovered that they were also planning an event for aspiring entrepreneurs in Essex, so it was obvious that we should pool our resources. And so began the detailed planning resulting in a lengthy project plan charting all the tasks involved in sorting out the venue, itinerary, marketing and PR, getting our ‘cast’ together to act out the business launch, and the general logistics of getting delegates to attend.
We also had to choose who would play the role of our entrepreneur for the day (knowing that real life entrepreneurs are busy running their own businesses!). We decided this would be a great opportunity for Luke Dart, an aspiring actor and son of our CEO, to showcase his acting talents playing the role of a young entrepreneur looking to set up a T-shirt business. Luke would ask each of our experts a series of questions, along the lines of a typical business meeting, designed to draw out a better understanding of what is out there to help start-up businesses and to demonstrate the considerations an entrepreneur would need to face.
And so the day of the event finally arrived. More than 50 delegates turned up to hear our cast of experts impart their wealth of knowledge. After an introduction from Terry and the FSB’s Honorary National Secretary David Stallon, the real business of the day kicked off with a truly inspiring ‘interview’ with Jacob Hill who, at the tender age of 20, is already running his third business as founder of The Lazy Camper, a website selling the perfect festival camping kit with everything needed in one bag. The delegates were totally rapt by what he had to say and his ‘never give up’ attitude made him a great role model. He also extolled the virtues of the support he had been given by Virgin Media Pioneers, with Terry going on to explain how this Richard Branson inspired initiative provides a great online community which champions enterprising people of all ages.
Then began enactment of the birth of our fictional T-shirt business…
Scene 1 - Our ‘entrepreneur’ Luke meets first with David Miles, the FSB’s Executive Director, and the audience watched as Luke learned of the vast array of financial, legal and business advice, products and support the FSB can give to start ups.
Scene 2 – a meeting with the bank, in this case Paul Barber, a NatWest Business Specialist, who highlighted to Luke the important areas he would need to cover in his business plan and outlined the facilities available to meet the different financial needs he would face, from a loan to help set up the business to an overdraft to cover cashflow dips and a business credit card for expenses.
Thankfully our fictional scenario didn’t need any credit assessment – so Luke got his loan, and our story moved to Scene 3 where Luke meets his supplier, Hayley O’Hara, owner of personalised clothing specialists LogoID who print and embroider a huge variety of clothing and accessories for businesses and individuals.
So now Luke is all set to establish his business and we move to our last scene before lunch, a meeting with Paul Hutton, Commercial Director of web design company BoxModel Digital Media who explained to Luke all the ins and outs of setting up a website, from registering a domain name to the process behind developing a logo and branding.
Then the interval (lunch!), when our delegates had the opportunity to talk to our various experts, network and take in the view across the stadium, admiring the perfect stripes on the just cut football pitch.
Our T-Shirt Business is Born
On to Scene 5 where we fast forward several weeks and Luke meets again with Paul from BoxModel who, with the help of our time machine, has finalised Luke’s logo and has the website ready for launch.
Scene 6 – Luke’s website is up and running but he wants to know how to get customers to find it. So he meets with High Position’s very own Mike Scanlon, who demysitifes paid search (PPC) explaining how it is one of the quickest ways to build an audience, that setting up campaign can be really easy, and that a key benefit of paid search is that it allows businesses to target particular markets and locations to make sure they get the best return on their investment.
In scene 7, Luke wants to find more ways of getting the word out about his business. He meets with Hilary Collins, MD of Big Wave PR and learns how social media can be a fantastic tool to engage with potential customers, reinforce his brand and help build the visibility of his website.
Then in our final scene we fast forward again several months. Luke’s business has really taken off, but this gives him problems with managing his orders and customers. So he meets with Steve Austin, CEO of Junari a company which provides CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. Steve explained how Luke can use CRM to track the status of his orders and how the data can then help him identify who his best customers are, who to target for promotions and special offers to find new customers.
Witnessed The Birth - Got the T-Shirt
And so Luke’s T-shirt business is born and flourishing! And to commemorate this, we even had some real life T-shirts for our delegates to take away.
Our play comes to an end and all our actors return to the stage for a grand finale – a question-time session giving the opportunity for our delegates to glean even more information from our experts.
Throughout the event we also had our own ‘Clever Caroline’ (our Operations Director Rachel Davidson-Foster) in the corner fielding tweets and questions from the delegates which ensured lively discussions as our fictional business was born. In fact our tweets about the event reached 68,835 Twitter accounts. We even got a retweet from Holly Branson!
A great team effort was involved in pulling the event together, and we’re proud to say that the delegates’ feedback proclaimed it a really worthwhile event. They left feeling inspired and better informed. We wish them all the very best with setting up their businesses and look forward to hearing their success stories!