Shell LiveWIRE Conference 2013


At the back end of November I attended the Shell LiveWIRE Conference 2013. This event was part of the larger GEW or Global Entrepreneurship Week, and was held in the pretty impressive Altitude 360 suite in the Millbank Tower in London.

For those that don’t already know, Shell LiveWIRE is the programme that Shell (the Oil & Gas Supermajor) founded in 1982 with a view to supporting, advising and funding young entrepreneurs in the UK. Since then, the LiveWIRE community has grown substantially and now revolves around a huge and free-to-join online community offering business advice, support, and a programme of start-up competitions and awards. The Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas competition runs each and every month, and 4 winners a month each receive a £1,000 award. 2 finalists from each month are then selected to go forward to make up the “Hot 48” list each year, and from this the annual ‘Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year” competition is awarded. For more details see the links below.

The conference was an all afternoon affair, starting midday and running till about 5pm. The introduction was given by Christelle Langenhoven, who is the Programme Manager for Shell LiveWIRE in the UK. During her brief chat Christelle referred back to a recent report commissioned by Shell LiveWIRE and others, the findings of which showed that while interest in Entrepreneurship is high in the UK, the conversion rate and the number who actually then go on to take the leap and set up; is actually quite low. Apparently this is low, relative to other countries such as the US. Quite interesting stuff.

After Christelle, we had a talk from Jamie Dunn, the young (21yr old) Entrepreneur who has made quite a name for himself through his relatively short career to date, and is well known for his motivational and inspiring talks. Some of my notes from Jamie’s speech;

–          Passion – have to have passion – passion for life, passion for what you do.

–          People – surround yourself with the right people; those who will push you in your interests.

–          An interesting thought/saying: “Your income is the average of the 5 people you spend most time with”.

–          Surround yourself with different people.

–          Young – do it now, what have you got to lose?

Next up we had a talk from Stewart Bewley, Founder and Director at Amplify Presentation (@amplifycoach). Stewart gave us a quick and energetic talk on “selling your vision”, which was great fun. He soon had the whole audience on their feet for a stand up exercise and then pulled out a couple of assistants from the audience while he demonstrated the importance of communication, posture, breathing and presence.

–          “Get your story out there, tell it well, with passion and people will follow you”.

Throughout the event, the 8 finalists of the annual Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition each had a stand and stall set up around the venue for us to approach, talk to them and find out more about their ventures. This was a great idea and I had some great chats during the breaks with the likes of Jacob Hill from The Lazy Camper ( and @Thelazycamper) and Matt Dusting from M24 ( and @M24bags).

After the first break we had a panel discussion featuring a number of past winners. The theme of the discussion was “Getting great ideas off the ground”. Our moderator was Ketan Makwana, MD of Enterprise Labs, and on the panel we had;

–          Jonathan May, SponsorCraft

–          Nick Proctor, Amber Energy

–          Michael Korn, Kwick Screen

–          Nikki Hesford, Made in Preston

Some of my key notes/take-aways from the discussion:

–          (Jonathan) trying to startup on the side of a full time job is often too hard – you need to be 100% committed (and available).

–          (Jonathan) prior to SponsorCraft, had 7 other businesses – only 1 of which is still trading. “Failure is healthy”.

–          (Nick) research and prep. will increase chances of success and make a startup easier to get off the ground.

–          (Jonathan) go and talk to ALL the people you are going to disrupt. Talk to even those you don’t think you need or want to know. Find the barriers and more often than not, this is where the opportunities are hidden.

–          (Ketan) “Rut of disengagement” – of you’re not happy or passionate doing what you’re doing, then you run the risk of falling into a rut of disengagement.

–          (Jonathan) key difference this time against the 6 previous failed businesses: PEOPLE (trust, skill sets, passion, collaboration / cohesive team etc.).

Next up we had another guest speaker, this time Richard Robinson, Director of Business Markets for Google UK. Richard gave us a great talk on “Essential Skills for your Business” and making the web work for you. Some of my key notes/take-aways from the Richard’s talk:

–          Need a consistent customer experience across desktop / mobile / tablet.

–          4 Steps / Strategy for online:

–          1st : Get your site right (& get it out there)

–          2nd : Search – have a search strategy (both SEO &/or Paid)

–          3rd : Syndication – go to where your customers are, and make sure you have a presence and content there

–          4th : Social – use of and presence on social media networks frequented by your customer base.

–          Google – first and foremost a data company.

–          Data – enabling better decisions.

–          Use “Google Trends” – find out what your audience is searching for.

–          Real-time data can show you emerging markets/trends.

–          Another tool “Global Market Finder” can be used to identify what other parts of the world your products are popular in – identifies overseas markets to expand into.

–          Google tested ~42 different shades of blue for their paid Ads. – one was found to have a marginally higher CTR. With such huge numbers of Ads. this correlated to >£200M/yr benefit!

–          Google Keyword Planner

–          Constantly Innovate – re-marketing.

–          If a user/customer leaves your site without buying – cookie based tracking can place your Ads. on the next site(s) they visit – this can bring them back in to your website and product.

–          Integrating the social layer – tie-in Google+ account (authorship shows up alongside search results for free).

–          “Web Master Central” – Google’s own site for best web practices.

–          Relevance is key!