That’s the message from speakers at MADE The Entrepreneur Festival in Sheffield tomorrow - who are handing all visitors a backstage pass.
Top entrepreneurs including baby food guru Annabel Karmel, boyband singer turned farmer JB Gill and Sheffield-born kids’ toiletries tycoon Paul Lindley - and a host of others - will be meeting, mingling and swapping tips with people before and after they go on stage.
The Memorial Hall, at the rear of the City Hall, has been set aside for the new feature this year - inspired by Youtube tycoon Jamal Edwards who last year roamed the corridors chatting with fans.
Paul Clark, of organisers the BE Group, said: “We’ve asked all the speakers to head to the Memorial Hall when they’re not on stage. We’re really keen that they meet people, especially youngsters, so they can pass on their experiences and answer any questions.” The 13 sponsors’ will also have stands in the Hall.
The event, now in its fifth year, was moved back a month to allow Sheffield’s two universities to be more involved. Young people from colleges and universities across England are attending, including Gateshead, Trafford, Warrington, Dudley and 160 from North Staffordshire University.
Other speakers include Kevin Byrne, founder and boss of Checkatrade which vets tradespeople. Kevin has already said he plans to stay for the whole day, adding: “I see the MADE festival as key to the future growth of my company.”
Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest companies, will be represented by Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer, and Joe McEwan, head of digital at Innocent Drinks, will be spilling the beans on the firm’s stellar success.
Sheffield organisations have thrown their enthusiasm behind MADE with a host of fringe events.
Sheffield Hallam University will be running a fringe event, the Sheffield Hallam Ideas Engine, in the Vincent Harris Suite at the City Hall. It offers one-to-one practical advice to people with an idea they want to take forward, with sessions in the morning and afternoon.
Sheffield University is running The Entrepreneurs’ Pub - taking over the Great Gatsby on Division Street on Wednesday and Thursday until late.
A spokesman said: “It’s a meeting place for people who make things happen. Relax, recharge, hang out. Share stories and swap business cards over a pint. Join in with the events or just chill out and soak up the entrepreneurial atmosphere.”
Meanwhile Business Sheffield - part of Sheffield City Council - is running a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the festival from 6pm on Thursday at The Viper Rooms on Carver Street.
Director Edward Highfield said he would be speaking about some of the major developments in the city region.
He added: “It will also be a great opportunity to catch up with your Sheffield business colleagues and to meet some of the speakers from the events at MADE.” Places are free, call 0800 043 5522.
Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell is hosting a breakfast panel discussion on alternative finance at 8am on Thursday in the Memorial Hall.
The event is called ‘Financing ambition through alternative finance solutions’. The panel includes Norman Peterson, director at Growth Capital Ventures, Alex McWhirter, chief executive of Finance Yorkshire, Robin Tones from RTC North and Enterprise Europe Networks, Craig Iley, MD business banking, Atom Bank, and Andrea Cropley, corporate partner at Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield.
Andrea Cropley said: “We have put together a panel of experts including some entrepreneurs who have ‘been there done that’ and we expect that their insight will be extremely valuable.”