Our 2016 Annual Conference took place on Thursday the 19th of May at the stunning Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. This year, we were once again delighted to welcome an outstanding calibre of speakers & workshop hosts, all of whom had key messages to share with delegates.
Our first speaker was Lucy O’Carroll, Chief Economist at Aberdeen Asset Management gave us an excellent economic overview on what is happening both in thee UK and global economies as well as a fascinating insight into the hot topic of Brexit. Lucy demonstrated her vast knowledge and expertise by giving informed and balanced answers to questions from the audience.
Our second speaker was Lord Dunlop, UK Government Minister for Scotland who has himself been an entrepreneur and understands only too well the challenges faced by SMEs. He talked about his vision of creating a ‘world class entrepreneurial nation’ and the importance of working alongside the Scottish Government to achieve such.
Lord Dunlop said “Creating and growing new businesses is vital to boosting the UK’s economy – helping to increase jobs, security and prosperity. WeDO Scotland is doing a fantastic job in bringing together entrepreneurs to share ideas, advice and inspiration. Their dedication to helping Scottish businesses work together to develop and thrive is really impressive.”
Our third speaker of the day was David Ovens, Chief Operating Officer of Archangels. David shared with us a hugely helpful overview of the funding and investment scene in Scotland and beyond with fantastic advice and tips for anyone looking for investment. He also gave us great insight into crowdfunding which remains a hot topic in terms of funding options for entrepreneurs.
David commented “It was a privilege to be part of the WeDO Scotland Conference. The venue was super, the organisation was slick and the guests were engaged. It was great to see so many companies together in the one room, sharing knowledge and pooling experiences. That is testament to the strength of the WeDO network and its work in promoting entrepreneurship in Scotland. Thank you Belinda and the team.”
Our final speaker of the morning was Brian Williamson, MD of Jumpstart, the R& D tax credit company based in Edinburgh and Chairman of Brightwork, one of Scotland’s leading recruitment companies. Brian has had an incredible entrepreneurial journey spanning some 34 years and still going strong. From his early days in engineering where he experienced the highs and lows of good times and bad, to building numerous businesses, including Jumpstart from a 2 person company based in an attic to one of Scotland’s most successful high growth companies.
Brian held the audience captivated with his story which was punctuated by his trademark humour and down-to-earth approach. His key messages included “relationships work best when you have a social contract based on mutual respect” and a quote from his father “If you can motivate those on ‘death row’ (referring to Brian’s challenge of keeping motivation levels high during a period of impending redundancies), think what you can do with someone who wants to fly.”
Brian also referred to his recent battle with cancer and how much he appreciates life and all of its rich tapestry. He urged everyone to not waste a single moment and grab chances as they present themselves. Sound advice that we’re sure every attendee will embrace.
A major highlight of the day was the presentation of our Lifetime Achievement Award, the only WeDO Award which can be awarded to a non-member of WeDO. It is awarded on the merits of a person who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the Scottish entrepreneurial community.
“I was delighted to be asked to speak at the WeDO conference this year. The conference delegates were one of the best audiences I have spoken in front of and the appreciation they showed me afterwards was very humbling, especially from my peer group of entrepreneurs.
However the best part was to be honoured with the WeDO Lifetime Achievement Award. This is especially meaningful to me because it comes from the organisation that is renowned for their support of entrepreneurs. I feel privileged to be classified alongside the esteemed past winners of this Award and the memory of this is something I will cherish forever.“
Colin Simpson & Mark Hedley of AHOI.LIFE ran a workshop “Being The Best You Can Be” which looked at how making small changes can make a huge difference in terms of what one can achieve, how to be the best version of yourself and all delegates completed their personal Ahoi Profile, the results of which will be sent out to each individual shortly.
Colin & Mark said “As first time attendees at the WeDO Scotland Annual Conference, we were very impressed. The quality of the keynote speakers was excellent. The positive atmosphere created by the WeDO members and guests was so engaging that it was impossible to not be swept along by the excitement.
Our company were also fortunate enough to be asked to deliver workshops. The interaction and engagement of the delegates created an environment where ideas were shared, concepts explored and value propositions were put to the test. I firmly believe that the insights ascertained will help AHOI.LIFE achieve our business goals. Add to this, the stunning surroundings of the Royal College of Surgeons and you have all the ingredients for one of Edinburgh’s premier business events.”
Iain Swanston of Klozers was back for the fourth time with one of his outstanding sales workshops ‘How to Increase Your Sales for Life in One Hour’. True to form, our sales guru once again captivated his audiences with thought-provoking and exciting content leaving everyone with lots to action once back at their desks.
Ian commented “I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak at the WeDo conference many times over the years. The conferences are always extremely well organised and the audience are always really well informed and engaged. The WeDo members are really friendly and provide each other with a great support network which is invaluable when you are growing any business. The growing audience numbers reflect the quality of the WeDo orfganisation and how important business networking is.”
Gaynor Turner of Macintyres of Edinburgh and Ambassador in the WeDO Scotland Executive Team hosted a workshop entitled ‘More Bang for Your Buck in the World of PR’ during which she shared her top tips for gaining PR exposure at little or at times no cash. Having originally trained as a professional actress, Gaynor’s effervescent personality shone through and she gave attendees lots of fantastic tips and inspiring ideas to build on their own PR efforts.
“Donald Trump hadn’t relied to any of my letters so I thought … I know what I need. I need a song!” commented Gaynor, referring to a video she and her staff recorded singing as one of her PR stunts which subsequently gained huge coverage.
“Participants at my workshops seemed to have a good time. They laughed a lot and scribbled lots of notes. Two asked if I would consider bringing my workshop to their workplace as they thought their staff would love it. The engagement and enthusiasm from everyone on my workshops was infectious, the best example of ambitious and driven entrepreneurs all striving towards the same goal – to make their businesses as successful as they can possibly be.”
Our thanks go to our students who helped at the event – Michael Robertson, Ryan Howie & Chris Devine, our sponsors – Mazars, Anything Hosted and BizPrompt and to the Royal College of Surgeons for hosting us so perfectly in beautiful surroundings. Special mentions also go to our event photographer, Keith Inglis of Keith Inglis Photography and to Gordon Sommerville of Beaten Track TV who filmed the event – they were both the epitome of professionalism and very unobtrusive which is a challenge in itself at events.
We hope that everyone enjoyed the day, we are overwhelmed with all the positive feedback we’ve received and our thanks to everyone who attended and made it such a huge success. We can’t wait for next year’s event!