SIE Startup Day

This lucky accountancy company was asked to speak at the SIE Startup Day in Dundee on Saturday. Although I was due to speak mid-afternoon, I decided to go down for the day. And I’m so glad that I did! SIE’s role is to make enterprise and entrepreneurship accessible to all students in Scotland. As well as the Startup Day, they also host an Annual Summit, regional events, and a summer Bootcamp. It’s inspiring stuff. 80 students gathered at the West Park Conference Centre in Dundee on Saturday, travelling from all over Scotland for a 10am start. Not your “normal” students then. Most had been entrants in SIE’s New Ventures competition and had “earned the right” to attend.

The day kicked off with a keynote talk from Hamish Robertson of Robertson Technologies, a former SIE student now running a successful national company. This was followed by a series of workshops on aspects such as articulating your Vision, and what should be in a business plan. Really practical stuff and it was great fun helping to facilitate this as the students worked in groups of five or six.
It was interesting to observe the dynamic as students from left-brain streams worked with the right-brain creatives to arrive at their solutions. Good experiential learning for them, something that most hadn’t ben exposed to before.

After lunch the focus switched back to speakers. First up was Scott carnegie of Discovery Investments, giving the Business Angel view of what they’re looking for. Scott was followed by Randall from Enterprise Rent-A-Car who delivered some real sales process nuggets to a captivated audience. Then it was yours truly! My talk was on building realistic sales forecasts and how to link those back to the business plan. It seemed to go down well – my presentations are getting better all the time since I found Presentation Zen!

After a short coffee break it was time for the Pitching Contest. 70 students took part, each having 20 seconds to pitch their idea to a panel of four of us. There were some great ideas, and some very clever presentations, the winner being Rachel Hanretty of St Andrews University with her amazing macaroons. Rachel took home a prize of £250, which she’s told me she’s using to buy more products for her business!

The final event for the day, before Fiona Godsman, SIE’s CEO wrapped things up, was a closing talk from Peter McLean of The Foodie Company, another former SIE student now running a successful food business in and around Edinburgh. More inspirational tales and a great Q&A!

I left Dundee feeling excited and energised. These guys are so motivated and inspiring, and to have the support of SIE, of whom we’re proud to be a Gold Sponsor, to help and guide them, will give them the best possible start in their business lives.

The future is indeed a very bright one! Get in touch to learn more!