West Notts College students rub shoulders with Britain’s top entrepreneurs

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Budding entrepreneurs at West Nottinghamshire College got tips on what it takes to be successful in business.

Nine students rubbed shoulders with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country at an evening reception of the London Entrepreneurial Exchange.

Students Leif Radford, Amy Mellon, Abigail Castledine, Kayleigh Graves, Joseph Johnson, Michael Russell, Dave Robinson, Ann-Louise Winson and Zoe-Leigh Francis were hand-picked by the college to attend the prestigious event, held at The Waldorf Hilton, London, on Wednesday 28 March.

They either currently run, or harbour ambitions to set up, their own businesses, or want to develop the skills to further their existing careers.

The students heard from keynote speakers Darryl Eales, Chief Executive of LDC (Lloyds TSB Development Capital), Will Whitehorn, ex-President of Virgin Galactic who was once described as Sir Richard Branson’s “right-hand man”, Martyn Dawes, one of the UK’s leading consumer products entrepreneurs and founder of Coffee Nation, Luke Johnson of Risk Capital Partners Ltd, and Kanya King, who is the Founder and CEO of the MOBO Group.

They also had the opportunity to network with successful business people and talk to them about their experiences.

A-Level students Leif and Amy recently founded the college’s Youth Impact Group, which brings together students that want to make a positive contribution to their local community and environment.

Abigail wants to set up her own boutique and wedding accessory business when she completes her HND in fashion and textiles, while fellow fashion student Kayleigh already runs a successful eBay shop.

Meanwhile, professional cookery students Joseph and Michael recently helped set up the ‘Forest Ferret’ company – which produces and sells its own range of jams and preserves – launched by students as part of a college enterprise project.

Ann-Louise has just started her own cake-making business which she combines with studying for a foundation degree in business and management, while fellow foundation degree student Dave is keen to progress his career with his existing employer.

Art and design student Zoe-Leigh Francis has run her own commercial photography business for the last few years.

In September the college will launch its own entrepreneurial exchange to develop students’ employability skills and support those who want to start up their own business.

As well as matching students with mentors from the business world, it will provide a forum for aspiring entrepreneurs to meet with like-minded individuals and offer expert advice on topics such as finance, law, marketing and promotion.

College Principal and Chief Executive Asha Khemka OBE said: “It was a pleasure to give these students the opportunity to meet with and learn from some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people.

“The prosperity of our local communities and economic recovery will increasingly depend on job-creators and it is encouraging that many of our students already possess an appetite for enterprise and entrepreneurialism.”

The London Entrepreneurial Exchange was founded in 2010 by Shalini Khemka, daughter of Mrs Khemka. It acts as a support network to entrepreneurs and a voice for entrepreneurial activity across the UK.

Board members include Duncan Bannatyne of Dragon’s Den television fame, Lord Karan Bilimoria of Chelsea and Lara Morgan of StartUp Britain. President of the London Entrepreneurial Exchange is Sir Richard Branson.

Pictured: Students Joseph Johnson (centre) and Michael Russell (right) – two of the young entrepreneurs behind the Forest Ferret company – with tutor and enterprise champion Lynne Booth at the London Entrepreneurial Exchange evening reception.