Video: Entrepreneurs gather to meet the high priests of business

Hundreds of entrepreneurs from across the region have gathered at Cranfield University’s school of management today (Thursday) to get tips and advice at the sixth annual Venture Day.

Founder of the Gu chocolate dessert brand, James Averdieck, told his audience at the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship that the secret to being a good entrepreneur is being resilient to knocks and getting the one per cent of key decisions correct.

“Good products have to move people’s needle,” said Mr Averdieck, who sold the £30million turnover business to Noble Foods. “If you move people’s needles you get people talking and good ideas spread quickly.

“I marketed the products to a small elite of people. If you can get the elite to spread the word, good things happen.”

He said he was lucky to meet key people who did not “screw things up”.

But the business didn’t grow without its problems. After he convinced Waitrose and Sainsbury’s to stock it, the country saw one of its hottest summers in 2003. “That nearly killed my business,” he said. But he managed to convince the supermarkets to keep stocking it and sales took off during September and the rest is history.

Venture Day 2013 also heard about some of the key trends likely to be important in the future.

Amit Pau, director at Adriane Country, said: “The digital revolution means that businesses are going to be destroyed but it’s also a tremendously exciting time.”

He said the perception is that people can be billionaires overnight but that is not the case. Online fashion retailer ASOS, he said, grew by the “ruthless execution” of customer service.

He also told the audience that an 82 year-old dyslexic man launched an iPad folder business after being told by retailers that there were more iPads than covers. Within 48 hours he had contacted suppliers in China and brought products to market, creating a £12million business.