Student entrepreneurs share success at Nottingham Entrepreneur Conference

The Nottingham Entrepreneurs held their latest conference on Thursday 26th November at the Business School on Jubilee Campus, with speakers including co-founder of Green and Black’s chocolate, Josephine Fairley.

The event began with a networking session, which gave approximately 200 students the opportunity to interact with the event’s sponsors, including EY, Enterprise, Capital One and Teach First.

Representatives from Rainbow’s Hospice were also in attendance, and £1 of the conference’s ticket fees went to their charity.

Speaking to Impact before the conference, Preet Kaur, Nottingham Entrepreneur’s Head of Marketing, said: “We’re all really excited for this event. We’ve tried to bring in speakers from all sorts of backgrounds and age groups so everyone in the hall can relate to them”.

Hannah Porter, Capital One’s Campus Recruitment Business Partner, also expressed her excitement for the event: “I think events like this are really important for a company like Capital One. We believe graduates are a great place to find new talent”.

“Be tough, be strong and fight for it. You’re young and ambitious – people will support you”

Upon entering the auditorium, the attendees were welcomed by the society’s President Tim Doughty, who thanked the sponsors, speakers and students for their attendance, before handing over to the keynote speakers.

Ollie Forsyth, 17 years old, was the first to speak. He gave examples of his entrepreneurial ventures, which began with ‘Ollie’s Shop’ at the age of 13.

He then went on to advise the attendees to “be tough, be strong and fight for it”, reassuring the budding entrepreneurs that “you’re young and ambitious – people will support you”.

Ollie’s final words were to “have an idea and be dedicated”, to “stand out” and “to get out there as soon as you can”.

Scheduled speaker Tom Hatton, founder of RefMe, was unable to attend the conference, but Geoff Baker, founder and CEO of ICN Apps, based in Nottingham, took his place.

Geoff began his speech by praising the University of Nottingham, with whom his company has a “productive partnership”, and the Nottingham Entrepreneurs, who he acknowledged “really care about this event”.

Mr Baker then gave the attendees advice: “If you want to launch your own business you need to be honest and realistic” and warned prospective entrepreneurs not to be “too cocky”.

“Events like this remind you that you’re part of a shoal, with support and the opportunity to network”

Jo Fairley was the last to speak, detailing the process of developing the brand Green and Black’s.

She stated that she has “honestly never regretted it for a moment”, highlighting that “a paramount belief in product and service is key – unless you believe it is the best out there, it is hard to convince others it is so”.

Like Ollie Forsyth, Jo Fairley then stated the importance of “doing good through business”, noting that Green and Black’s became the “first product in the UK to carry the Fairtrade mark” in 1994.

She added: “Twenty years on, we are able to see the huge change we’ve made to families in the Dominican Republic”.

Ms. Fairley then closed the conference by acknowledging its importance: “When you are an entrepreneur, you often feel like a salmon swimming upstream alone. Events like this remind you that you’re part of a shoal, with support and the opportunity to network”.

“It was really fantastic and very inspirational”

Speaking to Impact after the event, first year Computer Science student, Giorgio Baglioni, said: “It was really fantastic and very inspirational. I’m in first year and it’s the first event I’ve attended – it’s been amazing”.

Nottingham Entrepreneur’s President, Tim Doughty, said after the event: “I thought the event went well and I hope our speakers inspired some of the students tonight”.

He added: “We’ll be doing another event like this in March, so we can look forward to that and hopefully get some more great speakers in”.

Amy Wilcockson

Image: Impact Images Team

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