By Claire West

Unleashing the business ambitions of a new generation of young entrepreneurs will help stave off the risk of a double dip recession in the UK, according to a new report launched last night by Virgin Media Pioneers.

Disruptive Influence: The Entrepreneur Report features eleven of the UK’s most prominent entrepreneurs including Sir Richard Branson, Lord Heseltine, Sarah Curran and Peter Jones.

The report examines the government’s stated goal of an enterprise-led recovery and asserts its success rests on increasing the quality of the UK’s young start-up businesses and improving the support available to them. Of the 270,000 businesses established each year it is estimated that just 9%2 are started by people under 35. But around a quarter (24%) of young Britons say their dream job would be to run their own business.

Former ‘Dragon’ Doug Richard at the launch of ‘Disruptive Influence’


The report claims that the number of successful young businesses could be significantly increased by active mentoring, better use of networking and networks and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. The UK needs a surge in confidence to convert entrepreneurial ambitions into action.

Research commissioned by Virgin Media shows:

• Less thinking, more doing: Over half of young people (52%) have considered setting up their own business, less than one in ten (7%) have actually done so4.

• Living the dream: A quarter (24 per cent) of young Britons say their dream job would be to run their own business but worries about having the right contacts or experience are stopping many from achieving their ambitions5.

• Wasted potential: Almost two thirds (63 per cent) 6 of those feel they could be making much more of their skills or interests.

The report, which celebrates the ability of entrepreneurs to disrupt market environments and create new rules, claims that a UK startup needs:

• Urgency: There is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for aspirant entrepreneurs to be successful and change the commercial face of Britain by taking advantage of recession.

• Change: As the government looks to develop the concept of the Big Society, with a smaller state and more active citizenship, it will need entrepreneurs to be a key agent of change.

• Action: To lead the recovery, entrepreneurs need to be bigger, faster and smarter. This doesn’t only mean more entrepreneurs, it means better businesses with more access to training, advice and mentoring.

Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “Owning a brilliant business should be an opportunity open to all, not just be a dream realised by a small few. Britain’s ‘net generation’, with its access to technology and the digital world, has a fantastic opportunity but they need action. With rising youth unemployment and concerns about graduate opportunities, entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to have a go and play their part in the economic recovery. We’ve created Virgin Media Pioneers to help young entrepreneurs do precisely that.”

Entrepreneur, Peter Jones CBE, Chairman of the National Enterprise Academy and Enterprise UK, said:

“One of the reasons why I established Britain’s first Enterprise Academy is because unlocking the potential of Britain’s young entrepreneurial talent is essential to the future success and competitiveness of our economy. Now more than ever we need entrepreneurs to stimulate the economy so it is important that budding entrepreneurs have a place to go for information and advice which is why initiatives such as Virgin Media Pioneers are so valuable.”

The report’s authors and co-founders of Seven Hills Nick Giles and Michael Hayman, said:

“Disruptive Influence is a celebration of the role that successful entrepreneurs play in a vibrant and successful economy and a call to action to business leaders to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

“Britain’s under-30s are thirsty for knowledge, contacts and know-how, the characteristics of many great entrepreneurs. They have grown up with the internet, they are immersed in social media, and they have the clear potential to harness this understanding to build successful businesses. But this needs help and commitment if that potential is to be realised.”

The entrepreneurs featured in Disruptive Influence are:

• Sir Richard Branson — founder and chief executive, Virgin

• Joe Cohen — founder and chief executive, Seatwave

• Sarah Curran — founder and chief executive,

• Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones — founder and chief executive, The Black Farmer

• Lord Heseltine — founder and group chairman, Haymarket Media Group

• Peter Jones — BBC Dragon and chairman of the National Enterprise Academy

• Will King — founder and chief executive, King of Shaves

• James Lohan & Tamara Heber-Percy — co-founders of Mr & Mrs Smith

• Sara Murray — founder of buddi and

• Sarah Mary Owen — co-founder, Lucy In Disguise

• Doug Richard — founder, School for Startups