Inaugural Venturefest South entrepreneur event exceeds wildest expectations

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The team has been celebrating the successful launch of Venturefest South, which took place on Thursday 9 March, with a hugely successful one-day event that saw over 500 innovators, entrepreneurs and investors descend upon the magnificent Winchester Guildhall.

Lee Sharma, CEO of Simply Do Ideas which exhibited, said: "Venturefest South was amazing – we had fantastic conversations with investors, potential customers and people we can collaborate with.”

Gareth Miller, Strategic Director said: "We are proud to have been involved from the very outset and to have taken the reins for the marketing of the event. We are delighted that our efforts on the design, website, signage, PR and media liaison helped to smash the expectations around the number of people we could attract to this inaugural event. It was fantastic to be able to say to people who we spoke to about our expertise, that the proof of our delivery was all around us. There has been great media pick up across the region, with the event being covered across all local radio stations in morning and evening broadcasts, widely across online and social channels, trending nationally on Twitter and with great coverage in all the regional newspapers."

Speaking to one of the innovators, Professor Mike Santer, founding Director BluPoint said: "BluPoint is an early stage start-up company that companies to support digital interactions in non-digital environments. So we are currently deployed in communities in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and also in Nigeria. We really want to help students to access educational materials and also to support commercial and business activities.

"The unique thing about BluPoint is that we can get digital content to any device that people have in their pockets. Even if people have a really, really old phone that doesn’t support Wi-Fi or even Internet connectivity, BluPoint can communicate through FM radio, through Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi or Internet connection, to enable any device to be able to access life-changing content.

"We took part in Venturefest as we are looking for investors that want to journey with us and take BluPoint to the world. We have proved it works, and demonstrated there is the market. We believe the potential is really large and want we really want for investors to come on board with us to scale that business up."

An open mic pitching zone saw 15 early-stage innovators pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. When the scores were added up, healthcare innovator YOURmeds won a business support package including marketing consultancy from Carswell Gould, and support from other founding partners, Grant Thornton, Southampton Solent University and InnovateUK. In addition to this, YOURmeds won the chance to pitch to investors in Venturefest South’s Funding Zone, along with 17 other entrepreneurs looking for a combined £26m funding for their businesses.

Speaking at the event, Chris Allington, MD at Oxford Innovation and Chair of Venturefest South, said: “The depth of and quality of the ideas that exist in the south is just incredible, and today we’ve seen them brought together in one place.

“I was privileged to announce that we’re going to do it all again next year, and there will be a whole load of events going on between now and then as Veturefest South is so important to our economy.

The final word goes to Ed Gould, our creative director, who was the MC for the day and hosted the Open Mic sessions, and who said: “Venturefest South smashed all expectations. With very little support, we were able to attract 700 people to the organisation and over 500 to the event – which just shows the appetite from innovators, entrepreneurs and investors to develop and grow businesses in the region.”

To find out more and how to get involved in the next event, visit

To see other examples of how we have helped start up businesses and entrepreneurs to market click here and here

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