22 May 2019 0

NGI Solutions made a strategic decision to start blowing our own trumpet a little more in 2019 – we have been steadily growing the business over the past five years, however, as a lot of marketing agencies, we weren’t always practicing what we preach!

Most of our business comes from word of mouth, our own networks and referrals rather than snazzy awards or speaking opportunities but we thought why not test the waters by getting our name out there at #NewcastleStartupWeek?

Several team members had attended the event previously and know the organiser, Paul Lancaster (and his equally lovely team), and with Invest Newcastle, we decided to sponsor and exhibit. If you were one of the unlucky ones to miss out on this jampacked week, here is a whistle stop tour of our experience:

Day 1 – Inspiration

As the theme states, day 1 was all about inspiring the budding entrepreneur, showing him/her that yes, it’s difficult to start up on your own but the rewards can be phenomenal – we are looking at you Steven Bartlett!

Many of the speakers told unbelievable stories – from being on benefits for years to living off scraps in takeaway restaurants to coming out of the other side of rehab and making a difference in this world – there were some goosebump moments for sure.

Being Mental Health Awareness week, it was also great to see several speakers touching on the topic of mental health, especially when setting up and running your own business. In the past the pressure and often the anxiety and depression that comes with being on your own, was rarely spoken about so to see so many people speaking openly about their lived experience was inspiring in itself.

Dr Aria also brought in a different slant on starting up on your own and the affects on your health. As did the resilient Joanna Feeley from Trend Bible – flying all the way to Australia to host an event where only one person showed must have been devastating but – that one person was the only one she needed.

Visitors were equally as interesting and inspiring, it was fantastic to see so many brilliant minds under one brilliant roof (Boilershop). Unfortunately, we had other commitments so couldn’t attend the Be More Pirate on the evening, but we heard it was incredible.

Day 2 – Getting Started

In line with Day 1, this day did what it said it would – amazing tips and advice on how to take the plunge and start up on your own. Brewgooder was a particularly good example of a young, aspirational entrepreneur. Alan Mahon had always been drawn to making a difference to the world and after having a taste of what it’s like to help those in need, he outstandingly ended up persuading Brew Dog to loan him its facilities and the first ‘clean water lager’ was launched. We tried it and it’s tip top – if you’re a fellow agency and enjoy having “beers with peers” or “ideas with beers”, Brewgooder runs a great office scheme.

Alan Mahon, Brewgooder

Sunderland Software City’s Jeni Banks also delivered an enthusiastic presentation on how much business support is available in our region – yes, free business support! Our hunch is a lot of startups in the room wouldn’t have even known about these schemes so will be thrilled now.

Sintons delivered a practical yet vital advice session to all those thinking of going it alone from registering your business to naming your board to VAT registration; things that are often confusing or overlooked in the excitement (and stress) of starting up.

If you have yet to launch your business or have just done so recently, today would have been invaluable and given you a lot of food for thought.

Night 3 – NGI Solutions @Tyne Bank Brewery

We were the proud sponsors of the after party on hump day at the quirky Tyne Bank Brewery – and after hearing founder Julia Austin speaking on Monday, it made the beer taste even better!

Yes, there were a few sound issues but that didn’t stop everyone networking, touring the venue, enjoying the bar tab, and admiring the PIONEERS photography exhibition by Michael Owen and “Lord Lancaster” himself. 

The food from Acropolis was also delicious… thanks guys! And for dessert we dished out old-school sweets… you’re welcome. Thank you to everyone who came along.

Day 4 – Scaleup Summit

The Scaleup Summit used to be a separate entity away from Startup Week but this year saw the two combined, it was a long day which made the week even more intense but there was a lot to get across and it was worth it.

The content was aimed at more established businesses and the people we spoke to at our stand were not only from elsewhere in the UK but also around the world. We were sharing a larger stand with Invest Newcastle and it was great to see a lot of interested parties looking to set up shop in the region.

Our very own Matt Bratton, Senior Investment Manager, opened proceedings which showed just how thriving the region is and developments yet to come in the Helix and surrounding buildings.

Scottish export champion, Russell Dalgleish was a force on-stage, a towering 6’ 5”, he spoke about some of the incredible businesses he has helped just over the border in bonnie Scotland. As well as having the gall to take a delegation to Silicon Valley following connecting with THE Tim Cook on LinkedIn and email – showing us that the Geordie saying ‘shy bairns get no cake’ really does work.

There were also some eye-opening company organisation/culture chats from Phil Jackman and Angie Main – both challenging the status quo and outdated hierarchical structures; this resonated with us as we operate a flat structure here at NGI Solutions and enable staff members to play to their strengths when tackling client briefs. We will certainly be looking into ‘Servant Leadership’!

The Scaleup Summit would have been fantastic for those businesses who were planning on opening an office out of the region. There was an interesting history lesson by Sophia Stovall (Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums) on the similarities between the Nordics and the North East from the Geordie/Danish word for home (hyem/hjem) to legalities and culture.

Another interesting talk was from Nadine Storey from High Commission of Canada in the UK – if anyone reading this has the dream to open in North America, after hearing her speak, Canada is the place to be! Even if it’s just a stepping stone to getting into the States, opening in Canada seemed like a far easier process.

To sum up

All in all, #NewcastleStartupWeek delivered yet again – another hectic and heady week full of advice, tips, heart-warming and sometimes tragic stories, all to help the startup and scaleup scenes here in our wonderful region.

As a relatively young business ourselves, we could relate to a lot of the stories told throughout the week and our ethos of purpose over profit fit perfectly with this amazing regional and reasonably priced event.

Since our inception in 2014, we have worked with start-ups and established businesses alike – here in the region and across the UK – helping businesses to improve profile and performance through tailored research, traditional and digital marketing, and PR and media relations.

Mr Lancaster has established the week as the go-to event for all entrepreneurs, whether you want to change the world through beer, beets, or Bibles.

Well done!

And Paul being Paul, tickets for next year are already on sale!

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Lucy Nichol

Head of Marketing & Communications