I wanted to write to all of you about the second annual UK BizSpark Summit, a one-day event held in Microsoft's offices in Cardinal Place, Victoria, London, UK to connect BizSpark startups with the wider entrepreneurial community of investors, network partners, and journalists and provide information to enable BizSpark members to grow their businesses. This was a CEO-focused, Business event, as opposed to the more technical focus of BizSparkCamps (watch out for the next one soon!)

Key objectives for the event

  • Showcase BizSpark Startup success
  • Educate the start up 'community' in the UK on the evolution of Microsoft BizSpark and latest developments
  • Provide a compelling forum for all audiences to network and build relationships to nourish business success.

Summary of the Day

René Carayol, one of the world's leading business gurus was the moderator for the day and I was the event host for the day.

I was joined in my introduction of the event by Cliff Reeves, General Manager, Microsoft Emerging Business Team, who flew in for the event from Redmond, and specifically provided an update on BizSpark Connect (this is well worth you signing up to – just click on the "Connect" tab you see above)

The morning session was devoted to 3 interview based sessions with the CEOs of growing European businesses who were either BizSpark One companies or built on the Microsoft platform – Seesmic, Wonga and Huddle. Each session provided clear insights and advice for the entrepreneurial audience - best summarised as: Just do it and put the customer first.

A panel of BizSpark One CEOs explored the concept of partnership and discussed how best to tackle sales into corporates. The afternoon was devoted to a choice of workshops with Funding and Online topics proving to be the most popular. The event was rounded off by a competitive pitch session of 6 BizSpark Startups – with the winner myworksearch, taking home a trophy and a range of prizes donated by Network Partners.

Fun Facts about the Day

Startup Pitch Contest

Over 77 companies applied to pitch and only 6 were chosen to pitch on the day. Myworksearch emerged the overall winner. Four of the Startups chose to take part in pre-event coaching during the night before. The winning startups included Nuji. myworksearch, sentimnt, tweetpivot, projectHUGO, and Cloudhypermarket. Judges for the pitch were all leaders in their field: Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Sean Seton Rogers, PROfounders Capital, and Lars Lindstedt, Microsoft. The Prizes were donated by the generous UK BizSpark Network Partners, and ranged from free hotdesking space in Cambridge (IdeaSpace) , to tickets to LeWeb (thanks @loic!) and Thinking Digital (thanks @herbkim!) , to a free trip to Sofia Bulgaria (QuickStart Global) to Value Proposition Development (Inflexion Point) to a fine bottle of Irish Whiskey! (InishTech Software) Thanks very much to the great UK Network Partners who contributed during the day!

Agenda:

08.30 Arrivals & Registration

09.10 Welcome from Bindi Karia, VC Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft and Cliff Reeves, General Manager, .NET Platform Strategy and introduction from our UK Summit MC, René Carayol

09.45 Loic Le Meur, Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb in conversation with René Carayol

10.30 Huddle, 0-60 in 3 years - Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle

11.00 Refreshments and networking

11.30 Disrupting the old world business of consumer credit - Errol Damelin, Founder and CEO, Wonga

12.00 BizSpark One Panel - The challenges of growing businesses with Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud, Richard Nicholas, Exceedra, Peter Ward, WAYN, Steve Semenzato , Cortexica and Caroline Egan, Giant Step

12.45 Lunch and networking

14.00 Workshop Sessions I

15.00 Workshop Sessions II

16.00 Refreshments and networking

16.30 BizSpark pitch competition and prize giving. The judges were: Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Sean Seton-Rogers, PROfounders Capital and Lars Lindstedt. Microsoft

18.00 - 19.30 Drinks and networking

The three workshops, as chosen and voted for by the delegates during the registrations process (delegates had to choose 3 out of 6 options) , were:
Building business in the Cloud
Cloud computing solutions offer agility, scalability and cost reduction but with these benefits come challenges. Legislation and regulations change on a daily basis. What do you need to know about privacy, legal, compliance and security? Who's making money and how?

Building your brand online
How can you build your brand and reputation online using social media? How do you monitor what is being said about you? How do you maximise your online PR potential? What are the most cost effective online/social media tools to drive business? Learn some tips and tricks and dos and don'ts.

Finance (putting some fun into funding)
Venture capital is often inappropriate for early-stage businesses. So where should they go? This workshop will help entrepreneurs think through their funding requirements and explore the various funding strategies that can achieve these aims.

Verbatims

A fantastic event, very useful – thank you. Oliver Lovus

Very well organised and very enjoyable Richard Alberg

Excellent event - well organised and very useful content. Speakers were generally of a very high calibre and answers to questions very useful Kevin John-Philip

Better pitches than 2009 Elspeth Levy, Quickstart Global

Continue doing these! Nadim Saad

Excellent, really enjoyed it - even more than I thought Alex Hardy

Outstanding support from Microsoft for this community Rob Anderson

A quick email to thank you again for the opportunity to present Nuji at BizSpark yesterday. It was a great day with interesting panels and I have met interesting contacts too. I'm looking forward to working with BizSpark in the future and can't wait to bring our CTO to London to talk with some of the tech gurus you have here. Vincent Thome, Co-Founder, Nuji

I just wanted to personally thank you, and congratulate you for yesterday's fantastic event. I really enjoyed the day, and it was great to meet Loic again. Rusty Johnson, Sharpcloud

Thanks ever so much for inviting me yesterday and for a brilliant day.
I thought the morning was exceptional and the pitches and panel very strong!
Marc Bridgen, Founder & CEO, GigJunkie

Thank you for organising an excellent and interesting conference. It is always good to meet other small businesses and exchange views and ideas. Between the presentations and networking there are always useful nuggets of information and ideas that can be gained. . Many thanks for a most thought provoking conference and I look forward to the next event. Norman Shaw, Exacttrak Ltd

Just wanted to say thank you for your help and the opportunity. It was a great event and very well organized. Khash Sajadi, Sentimnt

Bindi - Billion thanks for the great BizSpark summit event yesterday!!!!! Your energy seems to be endless and charged up every participant of the summit. How do you do this!!!!!!????!!! If I were to describe yesterday's event in three words it would be: uniting, inspiring and excellent! You are a star! Elnar from Realeyes

Bindi and Lars - Just to say thanks for a brilliant day/evening yesterday and to all of you for your continued support to sharpcloud. All the feedback from the day was terrific and we enjoyed the panels and exposure Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud

Was a great day – I could not attend all of it but generally there seemed to be a great buzz and everyone was very engaged Christine Mullin, UK Business Strategy and Development, Consumer & Online, Microsoft

Thank you so much for organising this great Bizspark event. We made a lot of good contacts and it made us proud of being a Bizspark member! Nadim Saad, Result.com

Blogs

Several people blogged about the day. Check out these great links!

Other links for you

In the words of the Telegraph Article: "BizSpark Summit, a top-quality, invitation-only conference that's rapidly becoming a highlight of the London start-up calendar."

We look forward to hosting this event next year!

All the best,