My first Northern Soho event and after spending an interesting and productive afternoon discussing the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, along came the evening and a wonderfully seamless networking event with some inspired speakers for the icing on the cake.
I must add that the Manchester Escalator venue was not only in keeping with my perception of what Northern Soho would be, but also what Manchester and something like this should be.
So there I was given a pen and asked to sign people in, many of who when asked happily gave a first but not last name. Not a problem as networking is about talking not selling and it gave me an opportunity to talk to most of the people who came to the event.
It was good to see everyone not only talking to people they knew, but those they didn’t whilst getting a warm and friendly welcome from everyone connected to Northern Soho.
So a great turnout everyone drinking and nibbling and then seated and ready to hear some startup journey stories from some very interesting and inspiring people. I have to say after hearing and seeing all the presentations, the mix was as good as it gets with something for all and loads of crossovers too.
I’m not one for games and since trying Galaxian in 1979 haven’t really played another one, it was 20p a go back then and I didn’t have enough 20p’s to get as good as my friends and music was my preferred spend at the time. All these years on I’m always happy to listen and learn though.
Along came games developer Simon Smith and was an excellent first speaker of the night keeping everyone not only enthralled but thinking about how opportunities can arise from chance lift meetings to continuous research and development not alone in a dark room but with like-minded people who help each other.
How to follow that, with someone talking about insurance of course, and even better someone who had put together a slideshow and couldn’t recall what all the images referred to. Mike Henderson from Risk Box had everyone laughing and loving his every word. Enthusiasm is something many business people lack. When you listen to someone whose heart’s in what they do, how can you not want to tell more people and I’m sure Mike’s words will have been and will be shared a lot more in the future.
Mike is definitely someone who enjoys not only his work, but helping the people he meets and not just seeing them as statistics to fill a spreadsheet. Which could also be said of the next speaker Ben Hui who took everyone through yet another diverse and enthralling journey of ups and downs of business and life.
I’m sure everyone leaving the event will remember things from each speaker and not just remember but be able to put what they heard in context with their own journey and story. Ben has a wonderful speaking manner and could I’m sure win any audience over by embracing them and simply being totally natural. As well as inspiring with some amazing anecdotes.
Ben is definitely someone who will always have friends and is always looking to enjoy what he is doing, great advice from someone filled with wisdom whilst admittedly always learning. Siobhan Lynott was the fourth speaker and although new to speaking lived up to everyone’s expectations with a great start and startup journey which made for the biggest Q&A session of the night with genuine interest and admiration for what Siobhan and her partners have done and are doing.
In a way, Siobhan’s presentation created a buffer to relax and contemplate on her journey as well as those heard throughout the evening. Which was good preparation for the final speaker Dan Sodergren who started at 100mph and didn’t stop and also didn’t lose anyone while inspiring and provoking more thinking and talking about the ups and downs of starting a business, as well as maintaining and keeping it growing.
Dan mentioned quite a lot of things in his 60+slides, but one thing that stuck with me was an obstacle many in business come across and need to get over or go around or simply conquer. The obstacle being our own ‘brains’, all too often we put things in the way of our own progress. Dan discussed practical solutions from his experiences alone and with work colleagues.
Best line of the night inevitably from Dan:
‘…don’t become an arsehole, make choices that make sense….’
A wonderful night topped off with more networking drinks and pizza, but as I was talking too much I missed the pizza and then had a nice jog down Deansgate for the train feeling like Usain Bolt.
Events like these are memorable and should continue online in-between each meetup. Hopefully, I’ll see more Northern Soho members at the next event if I don’t bump into them online before then.