Don’t be afraid of failure, firms told

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KEYNOTE speaker Nigel Botterill told an audience of business owners at Venturefest Yorkshire to embrace technology, dedicate time to marketing and selling, and warned them not to be frightened of failing.

The serial entrepreneur, who in the last seven years built from scratch eight separate £1m businesses, told the Yorkshire Post that “the entire country is now dependent on small businesses”.

Mr Botterill, originally from Leeds, who started up The Enterpreneur’s Circle, which mentors business owners, said: “Every small business has the potential to double in size over the next couple of years.

“That’s going to be the key to fixing the UK plc.”

Venturefest Yorkshire, a one-day science, technology and IP expo, held yesterday at York Racecourse, also saw the launch of the Real-Life Entrepreneur Campaign by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The campaign aims to champion the cause of the entrepreneur by fighting to increase the routes to finance, improve cash-flow, open up export markets and reduce and simplify business tax.

York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP chair Barry Dodd, who signed up to the campaign, said: “The economy is in a mess at the moment and we have got to get out of it.

“The key to getting out of this mess is business growth because it creates employment. That will come through entrepreneur-ship.”

Best-selling business author and Financial Times columnist, Mike Southon, who was one of the speakers at Venturefest, said over 50 per cent of the working population have aspirations to be an entrepreneur. His message was: “Business is simple. It’s not rocket science.”

The winner of Venturefest’s Investment Competition was Aptamer Solutions.

The Leeds-based firm, which won a prize package worth over £20,000, develops molecular devices known as aptamers for use in life-sciences research.

The winner of the Innovation Showcase was The Test People, which received a prize package worth £12,000.

Based in Seacroft, north Leeds, it provides management information through a range of testing services.

Tony Hardy, chairman of Venturefest Yorkshire, which is estimated to have attracted around 1,800 visitors yesterday, said the mood had been “very positive”. Among those exhibiting at the Innovation Showcase was York-based firm, The Law Wizard, which is soon to be launching its own product, offering an online system for members of the public to manage the probate process themselves.

Tom Hiskey, co-founder, said it was “the first tool of its kind in the country”.

Also exhibiting were BigCityGuide, a travel guide app, which was launched six months ago by Helen and Peter McFarlane, based in York, and Sonocent, with a Leeds base, which provides computer software which visualises speech, aimed at students at university with disabilities, particularly those with dyslexia.

Youngsters from Yorkshire were also involved in Venturefest as part of the Young Enterprise initiative.