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Venturefest2017: Was it worth leaving the office for?

Venturefest Scotland is a national business innovation summit designed to help high-growth SMEs and ambitious early-stage companies to grow through innovation.
The day starts well with coffee (all days really need to start with coffee) but I did manage to bypass the pastries this time.
Kicking off sharp at 9am with the plenary I was pleasantly surprised to see a 50:50 male/female panel. Today is going to be a good day.SE announced their new start2scale support program targeting fast-growing start-ups and early-stage companies as well as existing companies with ambitious plans to scale.

Getting your financial ducks in a row

My first chosen session was presented by Martin Aiken Accountants on getting financial ducks in a row. Mainly focusing on how to get investment and prepare your exit strategy. It was unfortunate that there was an overlap with the presentation they recently presented for FSB but I guess that me not reading the overview well enough. Nevertheless, it was interesting.


Time for another quick coffee and it was off to the Trendspotting presentation. It did what it said on the tin inspired me to look for new and emerging trends that could be transformative in my own business. What stuck with me was that although technology is often seen as the driver for change it’s really the customer. We should get our ideas from our customers and our customers customers – what do they really want?

Innovating Innovation

Slight change of plan next. I was due to go to a session on Collaboration for Growth but after hearing Louise Opprud Jakobsen (from Danish innovation think tank Dare Disrupt) speak during the morning plenary I wanted to hear more from her so changed my plans and attended the Innovating Innovation session instead where she was on the panel. Sound quality wasn’t fantastic in that room so it was tricky to keep up. The main things I took from that session were: challenge the way you work, be a curator and automation in the workplace is key, accelerate your learning find faster and new ways, think about the value you create for your customers. I loved that they spoke of how learning in the workplace is a continuous process and when you set KPIs for your business why not think about setting KLIs too (Key Learning Indicators). If you don’t learn something substantial every month you should be worried.
The 3 tips from the panel were: have trusted advisor to speak to, be adaptive to change, think forward 10yrs – don’t stay still.
I concur with the comment don’t do something just to make money, add value and it’ll be more sustainable as it’s valued over time. Let your passion shine through because without the passion you won’t be driven enough to make enough progress. And the final tip from Louise was to look at the problem first then find solutions, don’t create a solution then find the problem. Great advice I’d say.
And finally, lunchtime arrived. I was very grateful for the sandwich at lunch (at no additional cost thanks to whoever sponsored that). It just so happened that I bumped into a couple of clients so we had a nice catch up over food and a coffee. Having re-energised I was raring to go for the afternoon sessions but first I had a prearranged meeting. I had a great chat with Esther at Jumping Rivers who help their clients analyse data and get more from it. I’m definitely investigating that further. Of course, we went off topic and ended up having a bit of a business mentoring session but I love the way things like that happen. I was so engrossed in the chat that I actually missed the next session. Oops.

Hidden figures – women in innovation

I sneaked in the back for the session entitled Hidden Figures women in innovation. As I was a little late I missed the start but was delighted to catch Angela PrenterSmith who I’ve spoken to online but never met in person. All women were inspirational and it was nice to see a few gents in the audience too.


Unbelievable how quickly the time went. I was almost disappointed that it was now the closing plenary session. Adrian Gillespie of Scottish Enterprise spoke of how we must continue the momentum to impact the economy. He reiterated that companies need the best and most relevant support at the most relevant time and I tend to agree.
We then heard from Mandy Chessell (IBM) who discussed our use of data and used a fabul0ous example of being asked where are you from to highlight the importance of using the context of the conversation to find the answer. She asked Is there such a thing as high-quality data?
Finally, Andrew Dobbie from Made Brave invited us to tell stories and make the most of our brand. His final comments really summed up the day createtrytestadapt.
My verdict: I’ve come away once again buzzing with ideas and excitement and can’t wait to get back to the office and pass on my thoughts to the team. Hopefully next year they can also visit and learn first-hand from the experts. If you missed it this year then please put it on your radar for next year.

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