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Boris-Branson Showdown

Tue, 08 October 2013

Contributed by Charlie Harry Francis, Shell LiveWIRE alumni and Lick Me I'm Delicious founder
Shell LiveWIRE first and foremost aims to promote entrepreneurship in the younger generation. Our partnership with the Institute of Directors allows us to impart the experiences of some of the most successful and inspiring people in business. As a former winner of the Grand Ideas award, Charlie was invited to attend this year’s IoD annual convention.
So it was the 2013 IoD Conference in September and boy did they have a good line up - Boris Johnson was first to the stage and gave a powerful speech about the strengths and virtues of the capital, painting a positive picture for the future and citing investment and growth in infrastructure as a vital part of his manifesto.  A persuasive and memorable speaker and someone you feel confident will continue to elevate the image of London and the UK within the world. 
The whole affair took place in the Royal Albert Hall, a stunning venue for the day and the place was packed with smart-suited business people tweeting ferociously.  George Osborne took to the stage to talk through a measured appraisal of the UK's recovery and to thank the IOD for backing his steady approach to deficit reduction.  When pushed to mention any metaphor of green shoots, he was reluctant but the tone was positive and a marked step change from the economic outlook discussed at last year’s conference.
The role of online played a key role in the day, with Joanna Shields from Tech City showing us how small digital disruptors were changing the rules of the game and taking on the Goliaths in most of our conventional industries. And then, a fascinating talk from Dan Cobley, MD Google UK & Ireland took us through the journey and open strategy of the giant that is Google.  Apparently, every Google employee is given free rein to devote 20% of their time to a project of their passion and it was clear that innovation and creativity is still at the core of Google's business.
Then to lunch, and the famous IOD adult lunchbox which did not disappoint (no Postman Pat cases here).  Here's the Shell LiveWIRE Crew getting ready to tuck in:
Back to the talks and an inspirational set from the legend Jack Welch talking the generosity gene; successful entrepreneurs are those who look after and genuinely care about their employees.  A refreshingly no nonsense and honest approach to investments and banking then followed from Terry Smith, CEO Fundsmith, a man that you would be happily let look after your wallet.  
The Panel session continued to explore how online is changing the business landscape with 4 entrepreneurs (Nikki Hesford, David Hathiramani, Holly Tucker MBE and Samir Desai) all behind fast-growing, incredibly successful and relatively young online businesses.  Then Branson took to the stage, typically informal, no slides, just a sit down Q&A chatting about the growth of his many many businesses, his love of starting businesses and of course, his aspiration to build a hotel in space. Inspirational, brilliant and humble. 
All in all, this was an inspirational, memorable and hugely useful day; particularly to me as a small business owner. Insights from the world of tech and the changing landscape of business gave me real pause for thought on the implications for my business.  The tips and tricks from the established business tycoons were, as always, invaluable, particularly hearing from Jack Welch whose many years of experience give him some wonderful insights into how to run a successful business.  And the pure motivation from listening to a wealth of talent and knowledge leaves you with a spring in your step and a determined grit to push your business to the next level. 

About Charlie Harry Francis (Founder of ‘Lick Me I'm Delicious')

Charlie is the award-winning Edible Inventor - creator of fantastical food machines and owner of experimental events company Lick Me I'm Delicious.  A finalist for Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, Charlie has appeared on Gino & Mel's Let's do Lunch and Jamie & Jimmy's Food Fight. 
Charlie grew up on an ice cream farm in South Wales, taking apart machines and generally causing mischief.  His inventions include the Whizzbang, the world's first liquid nitrogen ice cream buggy. He's currently working his next top-secret machine codenamed the Whirlygig which will be launched winter 2013. 

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