Spotlight on: Festival of Female Entrepreneurs 2016

Didn't get tickets for Glastonbury? No worries, there is another festival in town with an A-list line up and a one-stop shop for all your startup business needs
26th July 2016

Festival of female entrepreneurs talk

Today more women than ever before are making the decision to start a business and take control of their own destiny. And female entrepreneurs from around Britain are preparing to descend on Bristol in October for a day-long annual event aimed at helping women to build and grow businesses.

With a line up to rival Glastonbury, the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs (FFE16) is about offering a big cheer to entrepreneurs across Britain who are building a business and loving it.

enterprise-nation-festival-of-female-entrepreneursWith over 700 female and males through the door last October, this year the event has moved to @Bristol – the educational science centre and city attraction and the organisers are expecting an even bigger turnout.

Highlights of the event include: talks from Julie Deane, MBE, the founder of Cambridge Satchel Company and high street retailer Oliver Tress who founded Oliver Bonas; a pitching contest to be crowned Female Entrepreneur of the Year; a tech panel and a digital seminar, we caught up with Emma Jones MBE, founder of small business support network Enterprise Nation to talk about startups, South West and the all-star line up.

“Women are busy being bosses, super-charging their own businesses – as well as now running the country!”


She tells us, “Women are busy being bosses, super-charging their own businesses – as well as now running the country! More than half of the startups and new businesses that we see at Enterprise Nation are run by women. Women tend to start small and build more sustainably, often around other commitments, which means it’s good for everyone.”

Tech Takeover

One of the many offerings on the day is a tech panel, the idea is to hear from women (and the odd chap) [ED: I wonder who one of those odd characters may be?] about how tech firms in particular can get from initial idea to a long-term commercial and sustainable business.

“Hearing from people who have done it first hand can be very enlightening”


Female entrepreneur of the year award panelEmma tells us, “Hearing from people who have done it first hand can be very enlightening – particularly some of the issues and adversities they have overcome to get to where they wanted to be. One of the big issues for tech is taking on board finance – although tech can give you almost infinite scale, it can be an expensive journey. It will be interesting to hear their stories.”

Panelists are: Sarah Evans head of marketing for O2 Business; Jess Butcher founder of Blippar – the visual discovery app that uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence; Alex Depledge founder of Hassle.com that connects people to local cleaners, and Chair of Coadec the policy voice of startups and a digital economy; and TechSPARK’s very own editor Jamie Middleton. But this is not the only place for techies to feast, the ‘Life’s a Pitch’ event invites selected entrepreneurs to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of esteemed judges, including Mike Jackson, CEO of Webstart – the Bristol and Bath internet incubator.

Start Up in the South West

Enterprise nation teamThe South West has captured the attention of Emma, who has recently been appointed Small Business Crown Representative, “Our recent report entitled Enterprising Regions found Bristol was the third top city in the UK for starting a business.

“‘Super city’ Bristol has a globally significant tech cluster and loads of support”


“Obviously the fact that ‘super city’ Bristol has a globally significant tech cluster and loads of support including TechSPARK, SETsquared, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, the Engine Shed and BRAVE Enterprise is right up there.” [Thanks, Emma, we are happy to help!]

The report found that a town or a city needs to have the right mix of ingredients to ensure success for entrepreneurs, as Emma explains, “The obvious advantage Bristol has over other places has to be its culture. Entrepreneurs want to be with other like-minded individuals and the fact that Bristol has loads to do, restaurants, bars, theatre, art galleries etc as well as affordable housing (compared to London) makes it possibly one of the best places there is to start-up.

“The South West has a rich source of successful tech firms, many of them run by women”


Festival of female entrepreneur panel“The South West has a rich source of successful tech firms, many of them run by women and they have all been very supportive of what we are trying to do. Bristol in particular is home to loads of really interesting multi-media firms that are female-founded and they’ve been a great support including Jaya Chakrabarti the co-founder of Bristol UX Digital agency, Nameless, we love her.”

Come along, dear!

The invitation is open to men too! Emma tells us why: “Running a business of any kind can often have a similar journey. There will be issues in common for all founders growing a business in any sector. Today many firms start out from home. We’d like to see lots of tech businesses from the South West at our event to meet other businesses and have productive chats about future work – but also to pick up new skills to instill long-term sustainability and commerciality.”

To find out more information about the line up, logistics and tickets, you can check out the Enterprise Nation website, or follow them on Twitter @e_nation or using the Hashtag #FFE16. The FFE16 will be 9.30am – 6pm Friday 21 October, At-Bristol, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5DB, £49 for full day (inclusive of VAT).

[Image credit: Nina Allwood ,www.lifestyledistrict.co.uk]