Four women sat on stage at a panel event.

What we learned from EntreConf 2024 

The AMBITIOUS team has spent two days at EntreConf… and we’re bristling with so much inspiration, that we just had to share it with you.   

EntreConf, run by the amazing team at MediaClash, offers two days of unrivalled thought leadership for 2024 and it certainly served up plenty of ideas.

Here, we’ll condense two days of entrepreneurial excellence into our top takeaways, like Burges Salmon’s top tips on how to engage with advisors, what we can learn about pitching from a heavyweight of the gaming industry and what a ready-made lasagne can teach us about ethics.  

Be More Buffalo 

Nick Spicer’s Entrepreneurs’ Tales talk was the perfect way to kick off the conference, sharing the story of how he went from army officer to founding Your Eco, a B Corp on a mission to deliver clean and affordable solar energy. 

Echoing his personal journey, the resounding message was one of resilience, or as he described it “being more buffalo”. In business, there is often the tendency to sit back during times of uncertainty, but those who charge through the storm are the ones who succeed.  

Nick also referenced a classic quote from Brené Brown, “Take advice from people getting their ass kicked in the arena” and suggested listening only to the opinions of those who are putting themselves on the line, not to those who criticise from a high horse — some sage advice which can be applied from budding entrepreneur to established business leader. 

Solve the Gap 

Did you know that 10-25% of vaccines are wasted due to failures in the cold chain? Dr Asel Sartbaeva sought to find a solution to this issue and developed ensilication, a method to prevent degradation, subsequently founding EnsiliTech.  

While most of us won’t save some of the $35 billion lost by pharmaceutical companies each year, there are lessons to be learned about developing a business model that is driven by solutions. 

Savvy entrepreneurs look for the niche gap in their market and solve it, whether that’s in their product itself, or the all-important marketing strategy. 

How to Make a “Good” Decision  

We are at a pivotal time in the world of work, and although we’ve all heard enough at this point about AI, there’s no denying it has a huge impact on our future.  

Dr Margaret Heffernan and Professor Yasin Rofacanin, from the University of Bath, explored the effects of AI in the workplace, from productivity to job losses, and how our perceptions affect our decision-making. 

We need to invest time in the unknown to be a part of the important conversations. Particularly when it comes to AI, it’s necessary to have an understanding of the decisions being made to offer input and not get left behind. 

Engaging with Advisors 

Martin Cook, from Burges Salmon, spoke fantastically about engaging with advisors.  

As Martin explains, the value of an advisor is not always in the vertical knowledge but rather in the horizontal and bigger picture.  

Having an advisor who can offer this widescreen, helicopter view can be hugely valuable. Martin’s advice is to seek out these kinds of advisors, rather than those who only offer specific answers to specific questions.  

When it comes to ‘when should you engage’ an advisor, Martin’s advice is to start early.  

Engaging with advisors as early as possible proves far more useful, particularly for scaling businesses, where long-term partnerships can yield fantastic understanding and trusting relationships.  

Lessons in Pitching from the Gaming Industry 

An incredible keynote address from Phil Harrison, former VP and GM for Google, Corporate VP of Microsoft and Executive VP of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, gave his insights into what is ‘the perfect pitch’.  

As Phil put it, the perfect pitch is a conversation that leads to an investment. That may seem overly simple, but the emphasis is very much on the conversation element. Death by PowerPoint isn’t an option!  

Phil went on to explain that everyone should have three versions of their pitch. The 15-second version, the 15-minute version and the 1.5-hour version.  

The real art is knowing which version to deploy at the right time. As Phil said, he’s had experiences where he’s given the 1.5-hour version, when the 15-second version was all that was needed.   

What We Can Learn About Ethics, from Lasagne   

Yes, you read that correctly. This lesson in ethics comes from lasagne… or rather Charlie Bigham’s lasagne.  

A keynote address from Charlie was a most enlightening one. Taking in his life’s journey, from a career in arts management, an Indian campervan hiatus, through to his current standing as a supermarket stalwart.  

Something Charlie said about scaling, really struck a note.  

He talked about how people are hardwired to think that, as things scale and grow, we automatically assume that quality drops. McDonald’s, or a local boutique burger place. Starbucks or an independent coffee house.  

The notion that quality can only come in a boutique format, is something Charlie fundamentally disagrees with. When asked if his food is better now, or in the earlier days, he categorically stated that despite being a nationwide brand, his product’s quality is better than ever.  

The growth trajectory is impressive, so it would be all too easy to let quality slide for the sake of profitability. But the Charlie Bigham approach to ethics is an inspirational one.  

What’s most impressive is how the business has never lost sight of its grounding principles of never sacrificing quality. Their B Corp status has formalised practices and procedures that the business has had in place for a long time.  

Just because you’re getting bigger doesn’t mean that you must sacrifice your roots. Charlie Bigham is proof of that.  

More to come…

It’d be rude not to mention our own panel we held on day two, all about evolving your brand comms, which we’ll be unpacking in a blog very soon. 

If you want a sneak preview, click here for our eBook on how PR and communications can support scaling businesses.