The City of London has its fair share of winding alleys, hidden streets and secret meeting places; no surprise, really, when you consider how many generations of business people have earned their corn here; merchants, money lenders, lawyers, accountants, artists, entrepreneurs and dozens of others have exchanged cards, discussed deals and signed on the dotted line under the auspices of some magnificent, some not so magnificent, combinations of brick and mortar, and perhaps top of the list is the humble publican.
So I shouldn’t have been too surprised to discover yet another street I had never come across; Little Britain, just off the St Pauls roundabout, and home to the eerily empty Spectator Bar; was I in the right place for this month’s 30 second Entrepreneur pitch event? I certainly was, but, of course, it was in a secret room downstairs! Should have known.
I’m a big fan of this event, there is something about Irfan, accomplished accountant and event host, that reminds me of an MC at a deep South rodeo, and there are times when I half expect him to start swinging the microphone around his head whilst we whoop and holler like extras on the set of the Wolf of Wall Street. But I think that’s just me.
In today’s media rich environment, where communication is so fragmented and multi-channelled, sometimes an old fashioned meet and greet is exactly what’s required to get people connecting; there is just no substitute for face-to-face time.
The evening began with some informal networking, and it was a pleasure to bump into Bethnkapp for a second time. Every so often you come across someone who can open your eyes, and give you new perspective on, a basic marketing concept, as if you were coming across it for the first time. It’s hard to put a value on this kind of insight, but, however he chooses to monetise his business, I am sure his clients feel like they are getting exceptional value for their money. (@bethnkapp)
I also enjoyed meeting Maciej Halbryt at Creative Technologies, who offer outsourcing opportunities in the Ukraine and Poland, where problem solving in spaces such as IT and Technology is ingrained into the business culture. Maciej was also here to promote the Innovation Technology Awards, a ceremony that hopes to showcase the best young and emerging talent on the tech start-up scene; he is talking to several sponsors who will bring credibility and prestige to the event, as well as funding and development opportunities. (firstname.lastname@example.org )
The pitches were snappy and kicked off with a concept that is so gob-smackingly simple and brilliant that I immediately kicked myself for not having thought of it myself. Tariq Mirza, the Accidental Consultant, is a divorce coach. If ever there were a gap in the market! Humble and engaging, Tariq provides therapy for those who are struggling to come to terms with separation. He also blogs at www.etheralstarr.com, where you can reach out to him privately. (www.ethrealstarr.com )
Suzanne Noble, a familiar face on the start-up scene, pitched Frugl, the London Events app for those on a budget; surely only a matter of time before this one goes viral. Simple, user friendly interface and great content equals commercial success more often than not, and Frugl has been featured in both the Evening Standard and Tech City News, where it was recently named App of the Week. Suzanne’s event, “Promoting your app on a shoestring”, takes place at the Kings Head on 16th June, and will deliver key strategic insight into this field. (www.frugl.com ; @stunningpr )
Andy Letts is UK Business Development Manager at Webonise Lab, who have a 150 strong global team of developers, many based in India, and have worked with 30 plus start-ups already, but are still looking to expand. A demonstrable track record is always a key factor when determining who to partner with, differentiating Andy’s proposal in a positive way. (www.weboniselab.com ; email@example.com )
GEMA are a Creative Technology Company with an offering which includes augmented reality, 3D and 4D solutions, and a client base including Coca Cola, Samsung and BP. Their work is especially relevant to events, museums, and exhibitions. Vera Roquette Geraldes, is their UK representative. (www.gema.pt ; firstname.lastname@example.org )
Mostafizur Rahman was there representing Beneco, financial brokers based in Canary Wharf, whose fee-less structure is backed by a network of early stage investors (www.benecofinance.co.uk; email@example.com) and Accounting Contact distributed business cards offering reliable, competitively priced tax and general accounting services (www.accountingcontact.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org )
Finally, Marcus, a genial character, introduced us to the concept of Execukids, a financial literacy Company aimed at helping families to educate their children to develop entrepreneurial instincts from an early age.
Irfan persuaded many others besides to take the floor, which time constraints prevent me from mentioning in this piece (I have a business to run, too!), and I also managed to catch up with Colm Dooney, a start-up strategist making waves with Volpit, a full service strategy consultancy helping you to start, grow and fund your business. Colm@volpit.com, www.volpit.com
Just the usual eclectic mix of high calibre offerings, then, all with the spirit and drive to deliver convincing pitches on a gloomy Monday night. As Ninad at Bethnkapp later tweeted, it’s always worth talking to everybody in the room, because you never know how relevant somebody might be to your business goals. Being bold enough to get your name out there is half the battle. Only you can stop yourself from delivering the business you have always dreamt of. Sometimes you find the best ideas in the strangest places.
Irfan’s next event is on Jun 17th at The Albanach, Trafalgar Square