ORGANISERS have described this year’s Yorkshire Mafia conference as an “incredible success” after visitor numbers almost trebled.
The two-day conference, which attracted big name speakers including Ivan Heneghan from Facebook’s strategic client services team, gave Yorkshire business people the chance to network and pick up tips from millionaires on how to expand their enterprises.
The Yorkshire Mafia, a networking group for high flying business people, started with a handful of followers in 2008. Today, it has around 9,000 pre-approved members.
The Yorkshire Post was the media partner for the event at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, which included the Billion Pound Panel. The panel featured some of Yorkshire’s biggest corporate names, who have built up businesses with a total value of more than £1bn.
Those taking part included Lord Kirkham, the founder of DFS, who revealed how the power of positive thinking helped him build up a fortune.
According to Geoff Shepherd, the founder of the Yorkshire Mafia, around 3,400 people attended this year’s event, compared with 1,286 people who attended the one-day inaugural event last year.
He said that 20 of the 140 exhibitors had already signed up to take part in next year’s event, which is expected to be held in late March.Mr Shepherd is considering a number of changes for 2013, including the possibility of using the square outside the Royal Armouries to highlight work being done to create sustainable cities.
Many of the businesses taking part in the Yorkshire Mafia conference expected to receive a financial boost on the back of it.
Stuart Harling, sales manager at Rounded Edge Studio, which is based in Skipton, spoke of the importance of “buying locally to support the local economy”.
He said the design company, which provides re-brands from business cards through to exhibition stands, was exhibiting at the conference to try and do more business with Yorkshire firms.
He said that although the company works with corporate clients, it has a particular focus on serving the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) market.
Tim Mercer, director of Abzorb Media, a division of the Abzorb Group of companies, said the Brighouse-based internet service provider, supplies business grade internet and wide area data networking to the SME market, along with voice and mobile services.
Mr Mercer added: “We very much support the Yorkshire Mafia. I think the concept is fantastic. Yorkshire businesses are dealing with Yorkshire businesses and keeping it local.”
Leeds-based Redvoice’s co-founder Helen West said she was hoping to build relationships and increase brand awareness at the conference.
The business, which teaches communication skills in business, offers training tailored to the individual’s needs.
Nicholas Farmilo, business development manager in materials and engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sheffield Hallam University loves working with businesses and that’s why we’re here.”
Leeds-based Create, a social enterprise which develops training and creates jobs for people who have been homeless or vulnerable, was also exhibiting.
With a restaurant in Leeds, Create also offers outside catering, which it hoped to promote at the conference, according to Alan Cass, a sales executive.
He described the provision as “catering with a conscience”, and spoke of Create’s support of local suppliers, adding: “Yorkshire is such a great place for food.”