Power 100 panel

Seeing young people with a spark in their eye become successful, sticking two fingers up to education, and anger at a lack of opportunities for women in tech are just some of the reasons entrepreneurial enablers feel inspired to champion the entrepreneurial cause.

The 2017 Smith Williamson Power 100 celebration evening saw five members of the top 25 come together in a panel discussion to share their entrepreneurial story and why they support the rest of the entrepreneurial community.

YO! Sushi founder, Simon Woodroffe OBE, told guests of how his phone calls were rarely answered when he was looking for help or guidance in his early days of entrepreneurship. He promised himself that he would always be the person who does pick up the phone, or at least returns a call, when an entrepreneur comes looking for support.

For serial entrepreneur and author, Carl Reader, however, inspiration comes from his experience of education. “I was fortunate enough to get a very good grammar school education,” he explained. But he told the audience how that type of education was very much geared towards getting a certain percentage of students into either Oxford or Cambridge. GCSE Business Studies was entirely about big business and never running your own business. He aims to prove to budding entrepreneurs that entrepreneurship is a viable option for them.

Another panellist, Sarah Luxford, who is the co-founder of Tech London Advocates Women in Tech, told of how her inspiration comes from anger. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” she started. Sarah found herself struggling to find other female entrepreneurs in the tech space just a few years ago. She found that incredibly frustrating, sparking her inspiration to champion the entrepreneurial cause, particularly for women in tech.

Similarly to Carl Reader, inspiration for Steven Bartlett, founder of Social Chain, also came from a less than positive experience with education. He left university after just one business lecture, buoyed by self-confidence that he would be successful regardless. And while some may dispute that attitude towards education, Steven explained that everything he does is to show young people that there are options available to them and to inspire them to be the best they can be.

Neeta Patel, CEO of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, works tirelessly with young people who are starting their entrepreneurial journey. She said: “My drive comes from seeing young people come in with an idea and a spark in their eye and leaving with success.”

The Smith & Williamson Power 100 shines a spotlight on often unsung heroes who play an active role in supporting the entrepreneurial community in the UK. From start-ups to scale-ups, it includes those who help shape policy, champion, mentor, support and promote entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

Commenting on the release of the Power 100, Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson, said: “Our Power 100 celebrates those who use their experience or expertise to provide vital support to help inspire, mentor, connect and professionalise the UK’s up-and-coming businesses. Without these types of individuals, many brands that are household names today would simply not exist – they are critical to the wellbeing of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

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