Virgin Media Pioneers – “Everyday I’m Hustling”


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On Tuesday 19th November I went along to the “Everyday I’m Hustling” event in London, put on by Virgin Media Pioneers. For those that haven’t heard about Virgin Media Pioneers (I’m relatively new to them too!) they’re basically an online community of enterprising people who are actively sharing ideas and experiences, helping each other in new business ventures, collaborating, networking and putting events on to help raise the profile and success of entrepreneurs in the UK. (http://www.virginmediapioneers.com/)

I found out about this event by searching the events listings for Global Entrepreneurs Week, on the ticketing website Eventbrite. The event was held in the rather unusual venue of The Vaults, which are located off Leake Street under Waterloo train station. I’d never been to Leake Street before, and it’s quite a sight! The whole road is one long tunnel under the station and every wall and ceiling is covered in vibrant graffiti – it’s a pretty awesome sight, but quite a daunting road to walk down if you’ve never been there and don’t know where you’re going! The Vaults is an underground venue just off Leake Street. The place was pretty impressive for a venue, and it was obvious early on that some serious production had gone into putting this event on; they even had DJs and a photo booth for guests to use!

After finding some of my NEF buddies and enduring a bit of a wait outside, we were all ushered in and the evening’s events began soon after.

First up we were treat to an informal panel discussion with some top young entrepreneurs. Amongst the panel were Conna Walker, founder of online fashion retailer CelebBoutique, Josh & John Okungbaiye who founded HighSpirit Bags, and Jacob Hill, founder of The Lazy Camper. The chat was very informal and led by two presenters while the guest speakers sat around on sofas in front of the audience. Throughout the day previous the Virgin Media Pioneers team had made a big effort to get attendees to tweet in questions for the panelists in advance. I tweeted in two, one of which was asked during the talk. I can’t rightly remember what my question was but I do remember it was quite answered how I’d hoped. Oh yeah, think I’d been asking the boys from HighSpirit Bags how long it had taken from concept design through production, to actually get their first bags produced. Instead I think I got an answer that was more about how long they’d been working on their venture and in business in general – not to worry, their chat and insight was great anyway! Heard some pretty good stuff from these three startups and was impressed with that they’d all achieved at such a young age.

Next up we had a question and answer session with Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks. Richard took up his seat on the sofa in front of us all and took on-the-fly questions from the audience and gave us quite a few insightful stories harking back to the beginnings of innocent and their early challenges. The best story, and I think I’ve heard this one before to be fair – is about how after a test event they did where they put out their new smoothies to the general public, the team set up two bins for the customers to dispose of their drinks containers – with a sign above which read “do you think we should give up our day jobs and do this instead?”, one bin for “No”, one bin for “Yes”. Luckily for the guys, the “YES” bin proved most popular and that was the start of their journey!

Enjoyed the Everyday I’m Hustling talk, but definitely felt they could have spent longer in the panel discussion and Q&A sessions. The layout of the event wasn’t too conducive to the purpose either, the whole audience had to stand and with the guests being sat on sofas at the front – if you weren’t in the first few rows you couldn’t see or engage with the guest speakers too well. Impressive venue and production though – they even had some street dancers take to the stage and give us a performance at the end!

The video of highlights from the night can be found on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/GbjDzHrrfXg