02/08/2018 – Review: Cambridge Venture Lab

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02/08/2018 – Review: Cambridge Venture Lab

As part of its national partnership with Hays plc, Empact Ventures hosted its third Startup Venture Lab of 2018 at the Bradfield Centre in Cambridge sponsored by Linkilaw, Syndicate Room, Amazon AWS Activate and C6(n).

The event was attended by start-ups, scale-ups, investment firms, SMEs, corporates and non-profits  who came together to be inspired and educated about taking a startup to scale-up.

In typical Empact Ventures fashion, there was a focus on super connecting people with mutual interests to each other before, during and after the event. It brought a mix of people and companies from entrepreneurial ecosystems including Liverpool, London and Bournemouth to the Cambridge area with others join from the East England in Norwich and Ipswich. This led to startups like Hollabox connecting with private investors and investment platforms like Syndicate Room to explore support with their fundraising round, while TicketPass were able to sit down to explore a partnership with a global non-profit, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA).

The event was kicked off by Empact Ventures’ Founder and CEO Kosta Mavroulakis (previously based in Cambridge in 2011-2012) and will be working his team and Hays to super-connect the local DNA built around Cambridge’s establish entrepreneurial ecosystem with wider local ecosystems across the UK. He was then joined on stage by an inspiring and entertaining introduction from Michael Hall, Chairman of Bournemouth-based firm C6(n) and Simon Arnold, Senior Management for Digital Technology Recruitment in the England at Hays plc, two of the event’s sponsors.

Keynote speaker Professor Alan Barrell (author of ‘Show Me the Money: How to Raise the Cash to Get Your Business Off the Ground’) then opened the event with an inspiring talk that offered valuable advice about finding finance for your venture, focusing on alternative finance and the key traits of a successful entrepreneur.

Simon Arnold Senior Manager for Digital Technology recruitment in Cambridge delivered an a talk on ‘Building a Rockstar Team’ who spoke about the shift in the recruitment market from the ‘Advertise and Apply’ model, where recruiters rely on the quantity and quality of job applications, to the ‘Find and Engage’ model, where recruiters use sourcing tools and data analytics to find the right candidates, including passive jobseekers.

He closed off his talk with an explanation of Hays’ new startup recruitment service designed with Empact Ventures to support startups from Seed to Series A-D to build a rockstar team to support their growth.

Alexandra Isenegger Co-Founder and CEO of Linkilaw.com who featured in the ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ who delivered an educational session on ‘Getting Your Startup Legal Right’ and gave some key tips for startups beginning their journey.

There was then three panel sessions that offered attendees the opportunity to learn and interact with a range of tech founders and experts around several key themes. This included the ‘Building an Outstanding Tech Product’ panel that featured insights from startups like Cambridge-based Accredible (Alan Heppenstall, Co-Founder & CTO) and Series C scale-up Matrixx Software (UK Director of Engineering). This was followed by the ‘Closing B2B Deals’ panel with Michael Hall (Chairman, C6(n) Technology) and Nigel Sandbrook (Former Head of Manufacturing East England at Lloyds Bank), and ‘The Investment Pathway’ panel with Scott Simpkin (Senior Campaigns Associate at Seedrs), Cambridge-based James Sore (Chief Investment Officer at Syndicate Room) and Ian Woodgate (Angel Investor) chaired by Kris Jones (Founder of Tech Velocity Norwich).

The event was closed with two pitch sessions that saw startups like TicketPass, Hollabox, Accredible and Shoppar pitch to investors, SMEs and other experts in the audience, with Hollabox winning the prize of Alan Barrell’s ‘Show Me the Money’ book for the best pitch.

The feedback received following the event has been very positive as shown below:

“Just a note to say how pleased I was to participate in the EMPACT Venture Lab at Bradfield Centre Trinity Science Park recently. Clearly the agenda and selection of people and panellists – and the creative and expectant environment were right “on the nail” for the entrepreneurs present. The mixture of short keynotes, panels and discussion – and entrepreneur engagement was very well balanced. In the context of the ever growing Cambridge Hi-Tech Cluster – bringing Venture Labs to support the newest of companies and those seeking to scale is a very positive initiative and Cambridge could do with even more. The numbers of accelerators, incubators, innovation centres and start ups is still growing – and there will in future be no lack of opportunity to support more innovative adventurers. The investment community should also be very pleased that more support is on board through EMPACT Venture Labs to enable more entrepreneurs to become investment ready. Beyond Cambridge there is great potential indeed in places not yet as close to having an entrepreneurial ecosystem as that which has evolved over some sixty years in Cambridge. So EMPACT has a lot to do around the UK! I commend and recommend EMPACT and the team to anyone not yet familiar and in need of inspiration and solid advice and help in equal measure”. Professor Alan Barrell, Chairman Cambridge Worldwide Associates and International Fellow University of Essex Business School.

“My first Empact Ventures event exceeded my expectations. Meeting other innovative start ups, as well as inspirational individuals from a variety of industries was hugely beneficial to me. I left the event not only feeling empowered, but as if there was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst all the attendees” Emily Cruickshank, Head of Content at Hollabox.com

“The Empact Venture Lab in Cambridge was the second event I had been to which was packed with  speeches from Alan Barrell and Michael Hall from C6(n) who passed on the knowledge that would have taken me years to acquire. I felt Empact worked hard on mapping the right people to speak to each other making the environment once again super easy to connect. Overall the event was worth it, I definitely recommend getting in touch with Empact Ventures before the next Venture lab, I will certainly be attending future ones” Stephen Mappourides, aspiring entrepreneur.

Overall, it was an insightful day packed with various talks, panel sessions and pitches, with 22 speakers and panelists from startup to scale-up, SME to corporate and other experts.

If you are interested in attending Empact’s next event with Hays, our Corporate-Investor Pitch Day in Bournemouth on 11th October 2018 and London on 15th November 2018, please click here and if you have any questions contact Raphael Weninger, Head of Ventures at Empact Ventures on r@empact-ventures.com

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