For the Keynote event of the University of St Andrews 2018 Enterprise Week, the St Andrews Business Club partnered with the Enterprise Week student committee to host a discussion panel composed of four outstanding entrepreneurs working in Fife. The event took place this past Monday at Parliament Hall. The panelists discussed their own stories before touching on the event’s theme: resilience in entrepreneurship.
Chris van der Kuyl was the first speaker to share his experience as an entrepreneur. As Chairman and Co-founder of 4J Studios, one of the UK’s most successful video game developers and the company responsible for Minecraft Console editions, Chris has several years of working in the video game industry under his belt. He sits on the board of numerous other organisations and local charities, though his focus is on digital entrepreneurship. Mr van der Kuyl sees the digital age as an era of endless possibilities for anyone tough enough to take a chance, and firmly believes Scotland has the potential to become one of the most entrepreneurial places in the world. He told attendees of the event that to be resilient they must embrace running a business with open and curious minds, as well as taking responsibility for both their successes and failures as entrepreneurs. He also emphasised the need to do things differently than others and be unique, relating the time when he was pitching to a company for funding and stood up on their conference table (though he did not recommend that strategy outright).
Next up was Jen Munro, who explained her success as an educational entrepreneur. Ms Munro is the Founder and Managing Director of ISSOS International, a company that provides students from over 70 nationalities with unique summer learning experiences at St Andrews, Cambridge, and Yale. Her goal has been to create a comfortable learning environment for students, and ISSOS’ international renown attests to her success in this regard. Ms Munro told attendees that “doing the small things goes a long way” in running your own business, and no problem is too small to ignore. Attention to detail, she said, is the keystone of a responsible and resilient entrepreneur.
Lizzie Brough, Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder at Kindaba, an Edinburgh-based tech startup, was the Keynote’s third panelist. Kindaba is her way of fulfilling her lifelong dream to “do something that really helps people,” and attempts to bring family conversations to tables around the world, closing the miles between family members via technology. Ms Brough hails from a large family and has a special talent for connecting people, making this role a natural fit for her. She believes that entrepreneurs should run people-oriented businesses and strive to be the company that the customers want it to be, arguing this is beneficial for both sides. When an entrepreneur is doing what is best for all, she says, it is easier to persevere in the face of challenges and be resilient.
The final speaker of the night was Sam Trett, the Founder and Owner of LoCa Bev – Minus 33, a health-oriented spirit brand. After graduating from Edinburgh University, Mr Trett faced many challenges in starting his own business, from graduating during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression to having to sneak into a laboratory during the late hours of the night to distill his first spirit. His inspiration to create his own gin in an already saturated market was to help consumers understand the health costs of drinking, and Sam prides himself on putting nutritional information on the back of his bottles, something beverage companies rarely do.
The Keynote Event of the Enterprise Week was not one to miss and was thoroughly enjoyed by all attendees. The St Andrews Business Club and Enterprise Week committee deserve credit for finding such inspiring speakers and organising a lovely evening, and thanks go out to the speakers for their time and wisdom.