Essex start-ups helped at Work Avenue event

BUDDING entrepreneurs and businesspeople from Essex were among the 100 delegates at Work Avenue’s Start-Up Central event. 

The online conference had the theme of Innovate: Inform: Inspire – and saw speakers share their experiences and tips on everything from the basics of starting a business to being able to pivot and grow in tough situations such as the pandemic. 

The keynote discussion was between Rachel Anticoni, COO of the NHS Royal Free Hospital, and Marc Southern, a member of Work Avenue’s WE Hub shared working space who went on to co-found bob.health to help health and social care staff tell their stories. 

Marc spoke about the “leap of faith” he and his co-founder took in quitting their day jobs and cashing in their savings to launch the business. He discussed the challenges they faced, how they broke through and the four values they based their business on as they have grown and hired staff. 

Marc said: “We launched last April, building our website in just three weeks so we could be online for the first wave of the pandemic, as we believed we really could help the NHS. 

“We have faced many challenges along the way.  The key to tackling them is resilience and always sticking to your values and culture even as you grow.” 

Former BBC reporter and Virgin Atlantic executive Paul Charles gave advice on taking the leap from corporate life to starting your own business. He also spoke about how his travel consultancy The PC Agency survived the pandemic, including the very public Save Our Summer campaign he created to help the entire industry. 

Other speakers at Start-Up Central included Kate Hofman, who co-founded sustainable food company Grow Up Farms, Pizza Hut Europe’s Head of Insights Nick Rabin and Sasha Frieze, who successfully pivoted her conference organising company The Business Narrative to develop online events during the pandemic. 

The event ended with a chance for delegates to network with each other and make new contacts as they develop their own business journeys. 

Work Avenue Interim CEO Emma May said: “As lockdowns have eased, we are seeing more people from the Essex Jewish community approach us with regard to starting or growing their own small businesses. This event gave them the chance to hear from people who have done exactly that – giving a unique chance to learn from both the successes and the mistakes of others who were once in their position.” 

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