During my time here at FreshMinds I have been to events of all shapes and sizes, from intimate round table breakfasts with clients, informal networking drinks with prospective candidates to informative talks on the hot topics of the hour. But last week our Ones to Watch annual networking event topped them all!
This was definitely due in part to a fantastic venue - the extraordinary Mind Candy offices, a stone's throw from the silicon roundabout, and the birthplace of Moshi Monsters! With an astroturf floor, log cabin meeting rooms and jungle-esque planting, it was a great backdrop for the bringing together of FreshMinds' Ones to Watch alumni and the newly awarded 2015 winners.
This mix of people created a brilliant networking buzz, especially when liberally peppered with senior clients, our speakers and the FreshMinds' team. We were all treated to a wildly different, but fascinating array of talks from the panel:
To kick off we heard from Michael Acton Smith, Founder of Mind Candy, who gave us a tour de force of his entrepreneurial journey to where we find him now - heading up one of the power houses of the East End's Digital City. He regaled us with everything from his first foray into clinical trials and getting £1000 from his mum to launch his first business. From there he showed us the power of the chess club and the subsequent creation of Shot Glass Chess, one of his earlier successes. Finally, he landed upon Moshi Monsters and the universe that has since sprung up is mind-boggling in its scope and reach! His enthusiasm for all things entrepreneurial was infectious and his obvious passion for what he does was a ringing recommendation for mixing what you love with your day job!
Next up was Ben Loomes, Managing Partner at 3i, who was equally fascinating to hear from. In his position heading up the oldest and one of the most prestigious Private Equity firms in the country, Ben explained how 3i had coped with the massive flux in the investment world over recent years and how with careful standing back and taking stock they had managed to rearrange their structure, focus their attention and thus remain profitable in an environment where many failed to. Ben also shared that 3i are launching a brand new graduate scheme and for the first time they're looking to engage with fresh graduates to provide home grown innovation and growth.
Our 3rd speaker, The Economist's Emma Hogan, then talked us through the seismic changes that have been occurring in the journalistic sphere over the last few years and the seemingly insurmountable problems faced by traditional publishers in the rising digital age. It was fascinating to see the figures behind this changing landscape and how some companies had been hit significantly harder than others, and why she felt that the Economist had managed to keep its competitive edge when faced with rabid competition from the likes of Buzzfeed and Reddit. As one guest pointed out, it was fascinating to see who's behind the content at such a prestigious publication.
The final speaker we had was Oliver Thomas, the Managing Partner of CIT Growth Capital. Oliver has tracked an interesting path through his career, going straight to Harvard Business School after graduating from Oxford and then onto Summit Partners, before branching off to start his own fund. Oliver rounded off the talks with some really insightful musings which somehow managed to combine the divergent backgrounds and attitudes of all three previous speakers. Amongst his sage words were - take opportunities when they come along - and if you feel that in the future you will be able to look yourself in the mirror and say that you were right to try something then it is almost certainly the right thing to do!
As I wandered through the crowd it was an absolute pleasure to hear the introductions being made and future plans almost palpably forming in the air over people's heads. As ever with a FreshMinds event it is always a joy to meet such intelligent, driven and interesting people, but this event had a little something extra. The mix of Ones to Watch old and new meant there was a strong sense of positivity with youthful energy and drive responding incredibly well to established wisdom and experience. A massive thank you to everyone that came and made it such a fantastic night and we here at FreshMinds look forward to meeting you all again sometime very soon!
Huge thank yous to the team at Mind Candy, Michael Acton Smith, Ben Loomes, Emma Hogan, Oliver Thomas and the Fresh n Funky team for providing the delicious food! A big thanks too to the Economist and Uber for their support of the event.
About the Ones to Watch Scheme
Ones to Watch is the only peer-nominated talent spotting scheme in the UK, run across the top 10 universities. FreshMinds whittle down over 1000 nominations to select the most outstanding 100 graduates as ‘Ones to Watch’ each year. Academically exceptional, commercially astute, well-networked and with outstanding extracurricular achievements - they are the leaders of tomorrow. To find out more about Ones to Watch please check out http://www.ones-to-watch.com