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Buy Yorkshire 2015: Round-up of Day One

29 April, 2015

Buy Yorkshire mobile

Yesterday saw thousands flock to the Royal Armouries in Leeds for the North’s biggest business to business (B2B) conference and exhibition.

Buy Yorkshire 2015 and will be there again today too. For those still undecided, here is my list of must-see seminars at Buy Yorkshire 2015. If you are coming today, tweet me @jrconsultancy or call me for a meet up – I’d love to see you!

Here is my round-up of day one at Buy Yorkshire 2015…

The Billion Pound Panel #billionpoundpanel

My first stop was the Billion Pound Panel debate. The return of the popular ‘Question Time’ style interactive panel debate, was chaired by Simon Jones and brought together these panellists:

  • Lawrence Tomlinson Chairman of the LNT Group
  • Chris Rea Managing Director of AESSEAL®
  • Dr Simon Jones Associate Dean at Leeds Beckett University’s Faculty of Business and Law
  • Herwig Vennekens, Managing Director of Haribo UK
  • Barry Dodd CBE, Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Chairman GSM Group, Chairman York, North Yorkshire with East Riding LEP and Chair/Pro Chancellor at the University of Hull

David J Isreal, now Fundraising and Development Manager at Leeds City Council, asked “Now that Leeds has formerly announced it will be bidding to be European Capital of Culture in 2023, what business benefits do you anticipate a successful bid will bring, and what, as businesses, would you like to see in the bid?”

Billion Pound Panel Buy Yorkshire 2015

On the whole, the panel advocated the bid. Chris cited the massive increase in tourism that it will generate. Barry Dodd flipped the idea, asking why we needed to spend millions on a bid for an award. He said “lets just organize an event and tell the world we are a capital of culture instead of waiting to win an award!”

There was another interesting question around employee engagement.

Barry Dodd reminded us that “people work with you, not for you” – this language is important, he said, as language dictates the culture in an organisation, and this approach promotes respect and collaboration. Culture comes from the top, so is a key consideration for all business leaders.

Lawrence talked about remuneration being important, but not the be all and end all. He looks at share options in his company and schemes that allow employees to do charity work and donate to charity.

I asked the question “In February this year, the prime minister outlined a six-point economic plan for Yorkshire. If the panel were to invest a billion pounds in Yorkshire, what would be their long-term economic plan?”

The panel highlighted investment in engineering, manufacturing, skills development and training, and supporting businesses to export as being the key areas for focus.

Tom Elvidge, General Manager, UBER

My second seminar was with UBER’s Tom Elvidge.

Tom Elvidge UBER Buy Yorkshire 2015

What really interested me was how UBER chose to come to Leeds.

This was due to insightful research and data analysis. Basically, they know how many people are downloading apps and – more importantly – where in the world these people live (and travel).

Prior to focusing on building up a Leeds taxi network, UBER noticed 30k people in Leeds had downloaded the app. They waited until there was demand, saw where that demand was, then chose to focus their efforts here.

This is a great example of using innovative technology then allowing organic growth. AirBnB did something similar. UBER don’t pick where to put the taxi drivers, they wait for demand.

Even in Leeds itself, they don’t put cars in Headingley. They wait for demand in Headingley and then make more cars available once they know people need them. It’s a very organic process. Really interesting talk by Tom.

Carrie Longton, Co-Founder,

My final seminar of the day was with Mumsnet founder, Carrie Longton.

Carrie Longton Mumsnet Buy Yorkshire 2015

Hers is a fascinating story. She built the website up on dialup, working from home for eight years, and not making money for the first six years. Fast forward to 2015 and Mumsnet now has one of the UK’s largest websites for parents, a bloggers network with 5,000 registered bloggers and a network of 180 local sites run in partnership with local editors. Mumsnet also organises large conference-style events, BumpFest (for pregnant/expectant mothers) and WorkFest (for mums looking to return to work).

One of the most interesting stories Carrie told, for me, was around the time that Mumsnet was sued by Gina Ford. Read more about the case on Mumsnet and The Telegraph.

There was a rather nasty court case and lots of media coverage around the event. But despite all the bad press around the case, the media coverage it generated actually gave a massive boost to Mumsnet and subscriptions and site visitors soared. Everyone had suddenly heard about Mumsnet! The impact on Mumsnet’s search engine optimization (SEO) and Google rankings that the case had was unbelievable! See below:

Mumsnet Gina Ford SEO PR Buy Yorkshire 2015

I believe that to run a successful website or blog, you have to really understand how SEO and social media work.

So I asked Carrie this question: “Since Mumsnet is now one of the biggest social networks in the UK, do you still rely on Google to generate traffic?”

She said “Absolutely yes!” Mumsnet has an in-house SEO analyst that is actively working on Mumsnet SEO on ongoing basis.

Carrie also gave some interesting statistics and tips on how to engage with mothers, which I’ll share in another blog post.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes – the world’s greatest living explorer

I also met up with my pal Mark Evans from Banners and Mash, and he told me about the inspiring talk he’d just been to see with Sir Ranulph Fiennes – the first person ever to reach both the North and South poles on foot. Read Marks’ review below.

Mark joked that as he sat waiting for Sir Ranulph to take the stage, he found himself wondering whether he might abseil to the podium.

“Instead he stepped up modestly without ceremony or fanfare, clasping the lectern with what is left of the fingers to his left hand.

For the next 50 minutes he rattled through his upbringing and educational failures through to the expeditions that make him the world’s greatest living explorer.

It was a whirlwind tour through projects that no one in their right mind would even imagine; let alone be prepared to risk achieving. Let’s not forget that he and his team were going into unknown territory both geographically and physically. How do we live on the ice for the months of darkness? His wife designs a transportable cardboard hut of course. I would have laughed at the joke but the photos deny me.

He showed humility and a good sense of humour but there was no hiding the gravity of the situations he faced and that others didn’t survive to tell the tale.

As he wrapped up his talk, I wasn’t any closer to understanding what really drives him to do what he has done and continues to want to do. The abiding memory is that nothing is too challenging or too difficult when your name is Ranulph Fiennes.

Hopefully the audience won’t have too traumatic a journey home.”


One great day down, another to go tomorrow – hope to see you there!

Catch up with me at Buy Yorkshire 2015:

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