I had the pleasure last week of being invited to address the Nottingham University Student Venture Challenge awards.
My talk 'Being an Entrepreneur' took a fairly candid whizz through my story from graduating Nottingham University in 1997 to the success I now enjoy leading Esendex.
I included a few warts. My audience were just starting their entrepreneurlal journeys, hopefully some of my experiences and thoughts would be useful.
The evening was the culmination of many months of work by the student business teams, judges, mentors and the Nottingham University Business School team.
As I had arrived at the end of the process, I only got to hear the 3 minute elevator pitches from the 5 finalists. All sounded like promising propositions and I was left thinking that I wished I'd been involved in the judging, seen the full pitches and delved into the young entrepreneur's minds to learn more.
The winner was Andrew Webber with Sonix Media, his venture to provide a new software approach to learning a musical instrument. The other finalist that caught my eye was Alejandro Macedo with bGrantez a service to manage student placements in Spain.
What I liked about these in particular was not only were they both innovative, applying a new solution to an existing problem, but they were both obviously actually in progress.
Andrew had a working demo of his solution that demonstrated his unique approach. Alejandro was actually building the web site that was to be the hub of his service.
I've lost count of the number of people who I've met who have written a business plan about an idea and stopped their. Waiting for someone to confirm that it's a good idea by giving them the money they need to try it out.
So I wish Andrew, Alejandro and all the other finalists the best of luck with their ventures and thank Dan Edge and his team for the opportunity to speak.
I've included the slideshow below to give you a flavour of what I talked about.