Sussex County Cricket Club hosted a day of inspiring speeches, seminars and a business-pitching competition from some of the county’s most promising new companies.

Organised by NatWest, Entrepreneurial Spark, Cobb Digital, Brighton & Hove Chamber, Angels Den and the University of Brighton, the event was developed for people involved in or interested in supporting the South East of England’s start-up, early-stage and SME business sector.

After an introduction from Tim Boag, the RBS/Natwest MD of Corporate & Commercial Banking for London & South East, delegates heard two inspiring stories of start-ups who became highly successful companies.

First up was Penina Shepherd, founder of Acumen Business Law and author of “The Freedom Revolution.”

Penina encouraged the audience to join the ‘Revolution,’ which sees people building businesses that follow their passion, while being financially viable.

She talked about her background as a corporate lawyer - introducing the term “entreprewhore” to describe her previous pursuit of climbing the ladder, rather than following her dreams. “Money shouldn’t be the driver,” she said. “If you follow your passion, you’re more likely to be financially successful.”

With the fear of failure holding so many people back, she encouraged the audience to turn the old question on its head and ask themselves: “What’s the best that could happen?”

Pennina shared her top tips:

• Pursue your passion - you will thrive

• Give something back to the community, without working out what you will gain in return

• Overestimate yourself - most people don’t

• Take full responsibility

• Have a positive mindset and attitude

• Be extraordinary/remarkable

• Never give up!

• And enjoy the ride and the revolution!

Marc Koska OBE is the Founder of Star Syringe Ltd, a medical technology company that designs, develops, and licenses K Safety Technology (KST) for disposable medical syringes. As the founder of Star Syringe and SafePoint Charity, and as the inventor of the K1 Syringe, Marc had a mass of experience to share about being an entrepreneur and an investor.

Marc spoke about the impact his invention has had across the globe. The syringe has been credited by the World Health Organisation with saving over 10 million lives since 2001. Marc invented the K1 Auto- Disable syringe to target the deadly re-use of injection equipment, which is the world’s 9th largest cause of death, being responsible for 1.3 million deaths and 22 million new cases of hepatitis per year.

Marc recalled his personal business journey and left the audience with a simple-but-powerful piece of advice: “An entrepreneur must really understand the problem first before concentrating on the solution.”

The latest example of this was presented to the audience, with Marc now on a mission to stop vaccines being distributed in bulky glass phials, which makes the accessibility very difficult in remote areas. He has now developed an ingenious and versatile plastic blister which will revolutionise the distribution of vaccines.

After such an inspirational start the event continued with seminars, a pitching competition and networking over lunch.

Fiona Anderson, Entrepreneurial Development Manager at NatWest, said: “NatWest is delighted to be supporting Opportunity Knocks to showcase the entrepreneurial talent in Brighton and the South East. It is exciting to see pioneering events like this emerge when the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem partners come together.

“This conference was particularly unique as it gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their businesses as well as providing them with knowledge on the alternative methods of finance available to them.

“Entrepreneurialism and entrepreneurship are key to the future success of businesses in the South East, and all of us at NatWest are keen to help give new start-ups all the support they need to turn their ideas into realities.”

Lucy-Rose Walker, Chief Entrepreneuring Officer at Entrepreneurial Spark said: “Since opening ourBrighton Hatchery last year we have been blown away by the calibre of start-ups in the region. Our expert enablement programme focuses on helping entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses, allowing them to become credible, backable and investible. Events such as Opportunity Knocks build on this by providing businesses and the individuals interested in supporting them with a platform from which to connect and learn how to work together.”

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