Entrepreneurs @ Manchester 2015/16

Entrepreneurs@Manchester is a series of events which brings some of the UK’s foremost entrepreneurs to the University of Manchester to share the inspirational lessons they have learned in building their businesses.  At the end of each event, the audience are invited to ask questions to our speaker.


Lady Michelle Mone

Entrepreneur and Baroness of Mayfair, Lady Michelle Mone, told enterprise students from The University of Manchester that business success isn’t about applying a formula; it’s about finding your own motivation and using your own story.

Michelle was the first guest speaker of Entrepreneurs@Manchester 2015/16, Manchester Enterprise Centre’s speaker series which is sponsored by a2e venture capitalists. Speaking to over 300 students, along with a selected business audience, she told the story of where she came from, what she has achieved and what she’s learned along the way.

In conversation with business writer, public speaker and author Rachel Bridge, Michelle told students that she’s loved business since being a six year old, playing with a toy Post Office with her cousins. She said, “I just always wanted to start a business – and you need that. If you have fire in your belly and have a determination to prove people wrong, then you can succeed as an entrepreneur. But if you don’t have that deep inside you, then don’t start a business.”

Her words came as she told the audience how starting a business and life as an entrepreneur means a lot of sacrifice and that it’s not easy. Having seen her Ultimo empire on the brink of collapse on a number of occasions, she told the audience that she used her last £500 for a PR stunt in Selfridges. It paid off, providing £54million in press coverage overnight and resulting in six months of stock selling out in five hours. She said, “You have to be creative and think outside the box. The less money you have, the more creative you have to be.”

Angus Thirlwell

Angus Thirlwell, CEO and Co-founder of Hotel Chocolat, shared the approach he takes to marketing. He explained that at the time of launching the business, he decided to take advantage of the internet to open a direct route to consumers – which was a fairly unique approach for the sector at the time. Online, Angus built strong customer bases, which eventually led to Hotel Chocolat creating own-brand stores on the high street.

About his journey, Angus said, “The chocolate industry was going one direction and we wanted to go the other. Rather than selling to masses, we wanted to create an exclusive luxury product that disrupted the sleepy, self-satisfied chocolate market. I believe innovation can be incremental rather wholesale and it was the authenticity of the product that helped it to become iconic.”

Angus also highlighted personal attributes as a contributing factor to being a successful entrepreneur. While he says that much of his ongoing energy is fuelled by genetics, he puts much of his achievements down to the passion and belief he has for his product. He said: “To be an entrepreneur you need to be relentless and prepared to regularly adapt.  Everything else can be learned”.



Read the Manchester Evening News article about the event >>

Check the Manchester Enterprise Centre events page regularly for details of future Entrepreneurs@Manchester events.