As Global Entrepreneurship Week rolls on, we recommend hobnobbing with these helpful folk – and welcome you to suggest some more
This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week – a global initiative with more than seven million people taking part. Yet it’s a tough time to start a business. The Project Merlin agreement has by all accounts failed and the economy is creeping out of recession painfully slowly.
Who and what you know have never been more vital to ensuring success. We can’t tell you how to run your business. But we can help you network. So here’s LondonlovesBusiness.com’s pick of 15 people you can’t afford not to know.
Of course, this list is miles away from being comprehensive – it is but a humble beginning, and a purposefully random hodgepodge of people. We want it to become a springboard for your suggestions, so please add your recommendations below.
Welcome to London’s entrepreneurial scene.
Emma Jones @emmaljones
The name to know in home business and founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones is first port of call if you’re about plunge into the world of going it alone from home. A one stop shop for the wannabe self-employed, Enterprise Nation promises community, books, kits, weekly classes and national conferences.
Jones is big on Twitter too, so spark up a conversation with her there.
Errol Damelin @ed_wonga
Borrowing from high street banks has never been harder, say business lobby groups. Step in Wonga, an online short-term lender that provides same day loans of up to £400. Founded by ex-investment banker Errol Damelin four years ago, he has since been credited with revolutionising financial services. Damelin has won a host of Entrepreneur of the Year awards for his efforts – so if you’re looking for advice on fast growth, he’s not a bad person to ask.
Oh, and he likes marathon running and mountain biking, so it might be worth getting in some training to fuel the all-important small talk.
Michael Smith, Mind Candy @acton
Want to know how to spin out a computer game into the UK’s bestselling children’s magazine and a global power brand? Ask Michael Smith, founder of Moshi Monsters, Firebox.com and Perplex City. Don’t be put off by his Russell Brand-esque picture: this man is big on the tech scene both in London and out of London. Spot him in a national newspaper every other week and at East London tech socials such as Silicon Drinkabout.
Shaa Wasmund @shaawasmund
Wasmund founded Smarta.com, the start-up advice bible and social network. A prolific networker, she started her career promoting fights for Chris Eubank (while still at uni) and has since worked alongside James Dyson and Bob Geldof, and currently boasts Bebo’s Michael Birch, Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis as investors. She’s ever-present on Twitter and at Smarta events, and prides herself on being accessible to all with start-up queries or aspirations.
Mike Butcher, TechCrunch & Techhub @mikebutcher
Butcher is editor of the tech must-read blog TechCrunch and co-founded Techhub, an Old Street-based community and workspace for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Hang out at TechHub to inspire and be inspired, get your venture on the web pages of TechCrunch and find out who’s really hot in tech right now.
Doug Richard @DougRichard
Entrepreneur, angel nvestor, teacher, former Dragon on Dragons Den. What more could you ask for? No, we can’t give out his mobile phone number, sorry. We can suggest you follow him on Twitter though, and that you take a look at his School for Startups initiative which promises targeted programmes that teach attendees how to start and run better businesses. Oh, you can also read our Q&A with Doug Richard on entrepreneurial opportunities in London.
Paul Birch @paulbirch99
Currently entrepreneur in residence at the exclusive Adam Street Club, Michael Birch’s lesser known brother Paul is looking to invest. Why? Well, he co-founded BirthdayAlarm in 2001 and social networking site Bebo three years later. Bebo has since sold to AOL in a multi-million pound deal, netting its founders a fortune. Now Birch is looking to invest in digital enterprises.
You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter, and of course the Adam Smith Club. Judging by his Twitter feed, he’s currently focussed on Occupy LSX and the Tobin Tax. So have your opinions ready…
Dharmash Mistry @Dharmash
A partner at venture capital firm Balderton Capital, Dharmash Mistry spotted the investment potential in Bebo and was one of their original investors. Other notable successes include LoveFilm and Habbo Hotel. When it comes to investing his track record is strong – likely down to his considerable experience working at Emap and Procter & Gamble. Talk to him if you’re a fast-growth company with big ambitions, or to find out what the next big thing in entrepreneurship is.
Oli Barrett @OliBarrett
Barrett is a professional networker. His passion is making valuable connections between people and ideas, he says on his website, before inviting people to get in touch with him. Through his main business, Co-Sponsorship Agency, he works with brands and charities to “optimise and achieve greater business returns from social action projects, through cross-sector partnership and funding opportunities.” Recent clients include the British Council and the BBC. He will happily introduce you to anyone in a room if you ask nicely enough, because he almost certainly knows them already.
Ben Goldsmith @BJGoldsmith
Zac’s little brother and Jimmy’s son, Ben is living up to his namesake impressively. One of the first Br
its to become a green technology millionaire, his specialist investment business WHEB now has £130m under management. He’s rather charming too. Zac who?
Elizabeth Varley @evarley
The other founder of TechHub, Varley is a serious tweeter and self-proclaimed communicator and connector. “I love to bring people together,” she admits. Find her at the Silicon Roundabout based member’s club and make your introduction.
Nicolas Roope @nikroope
Chair at The Lovie Awards, co-chair at Internet Week Europe – which took place last week – and UK Webby Ambassador at The Webby Awards, Roope is a good man to know. He’s also the “creative brain” at the digital marketing agency Poke, who describe themselves as “smart, creative, nerdy and nice”.
Find him down at next year’s Internet Week Europe – you’ve a whole year to get your introduction ready.
Richard Tyler, @richardtyler
As enterprise editor for the Daily Telegraph, Tyler’s not a bad contact to have if you’re after some major publicity. He covers all aspects of business – from central government policy affecting business to reports suggesting SMEs prefer fax machines over newer technologies. Got a story to tell? He’s your man.
Rassami Hok Ljunberg @rassami and @2_Pears
This communications expert is a great networker and is well known on London’s tech scene. Through her eponymous PR company, Rassami, she specialises in business to business communication and works with a range of companies and initiatives, from start-ups to not-for-profit business organisations.
Lynne Franks @Lynne_Franks
Allegedly the inspiration for Ab Fab’s Eddie and sometime star of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, Franks is one of the most famous people in PR. She is also the inspiration for many aspiring businesswomen, having done vast amounts to support women in business through initiatives like her women-only club B.HIVE and women-in-business network SEED. Find her at women in business events and book launches, or, if you’re really lucky, at her retreat in Mallorca where twice a year she invites women to join her on a “journey of transformation and empowerment”. Err, Franks, is there room for one more?
This list is but a smattering of the wonderful entrepreneurial talent London has to offer, so we’d love you to add more suggestions below…