Enterprising London: Learning, alignment and innovation are key qualities to entrepreneurial ventures in London

A group of London’s entrepreneurs exchanged their experiences and insights on London’s entrepreneurial culture on 28 June during the third annual Business Week organised by Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics (BEI).

This panel discussion highlighted key issues relating to starting, growing and managing successful business in London, from incubation to operating some of the world’s leading companies.

Joined by some 200 guests, panels included Helen Lawton Smith, Pierre Nadeau and Hasan Siber from Birkbeck, Andrew Atter from Executive Dialogue Ltd, Nigel Biggs from Passionate Innovation, Thomas Davies from soon-to-be-launched Seedrs, and Salim Virani from Founder-centric and Leancamp.

At the panel discussion, Helen Lawton Smith, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Centre for Innovation Management Research, Department of Management, Birkbeck, defined entrepreneurship as an organised effort designed to pursue a unique, innovative opportunity and achieve rapid, profitable growth.

She also revealed the key challenges facing entrepreneurs in the business environment, as follows:

  • Unique selling point? “Must have” products
  • Management team: core competences
  • Investor criteria
  • Resources
  • Money, premises, qualified people
  • Information
  • Networks, new markets, support (public and private)
  • Size of market
  • Competition
  • Regulations: UK, Europe and other countries
  • Keeping up with technology
  • Exit options

On the other hand, the panelists shared their top tips on starting, growing and managing a new business, including:

  • Successful venturing is all about aligning different motives, values and goals, and this is best achieved through dialogue.
  • Personal growth and development of leaders are integral to the success of a venture
  • Fail fast means learn fast. After learning fast, then test and confirm again that your product or service is right for the market.
  • Don’t underestimate and neglect the potential of women entrepreneurs. Studies have showed that women could make better judgment at risks than men do.
  • Co-creating business with a familiar partner is a good way to start a new business.
  • Once the business has scaled up, remember to continue to encourage innovation across the company. Don’t kill innovation.

This event was a stage in the Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research (CIMR)’s own entrepreneurship activities, which will be launched shortly.  The Starts Hub will foster and enable birth of innovation across all disciplines and to support and nurture university entrepreneurs (students/alumni and staff) with exceptional potential.

Commenting on the discussion, Professor Helen Lawton Smith at Birkbeck, said: “At CIMR, we draw on a variety of academic disciplines across the fields of management, law, geography, economics and science policy. This event was an excellent opportunity for our students to engage with London’s entrepreneurs and explore the issues and conditions which start-ups in our capital must address.”

>> Find out about Professor Helen Lawton Smith’s research on university spin-offs in London.


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