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ARCH: Exploring Entrepreneurship bought an array of professional guests with students from 14 schools across Reading to inspire new entrepreneurial journeys.

The evening started with an Entrepreneurship Fair which showcased a number of student businesses alongside those of experienced entrepreneurs. The keynote talk was given by Sir John Madejski OBE and followed by breakout group conversations for students to ask questions of our entrepreneur guests.

Nishka in Yr 12 said the fair was a wonderful opportunity for students to seek advice on their social enterprise businesses, from setting a pricing structure to introducing technology.

Meanwhile, Aarini in Yr 12 said the event really encouraged an entrepreneurship mindset – to be creative, stay optimistic and to see failures as a step to success.

We are so grateful to the many professional guests, local and national organisations who supported this incredible evening including the Henley Business School, Peter Jones Foundation, Innovate UK, Ethical Reading, Samuel Family Foundation, Reading Entrepreneurial Society at the University of Reading and many more.

Managing Director of the Peter Jones Foundation, Bill Muirhead, said it was wonderful to see so many schools collaborating together, “the sooner you start mixing with other people, the more you understand about communication and working in teams “.

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Expert Entrepreneur Guests

Sir John Madejski OBE DL DLitt

Sir John founded Auto Trader and with his incredible team developed it into a national brand.

A well-known local figure, Sir John is perhaps best known for building the Madejski Stadium – home to Reading Football Club – and presiding over the club as owner and Chairman for twenty six years, steering RFC to the Premier League on two occasions.

Sir John was the Chancellor of the University of Reading 2007 – 2016.

Amy Samuel

Digital Creative, Cultural Collaborator & Storyteller

Amy has spent over 15 years driving marketing strategies and digital innovation for some of the world’s leading brands including Coca-Cola, Bacardi and L’Oreal.

In her current role as Marketing Innovation Director at Quantum-h, Amy is playing a pivotal role in shaping the emerging technology agenda using technologies such as QR, NFC, Blockchain, SMS and AI.

Bill Muirhead

Managing Director, Peter Jones Foundation

Bill joined the Peter Jones Foundation in June 2017, becoming Managing Director in 2020. With over 15 years’ experience in enterprise education and work- related learning, Bill joined from Coca-Cola European Partners where he led their community education programme, winning a Business in the Community Award for Excellence in 2012.

Bill was part of the steering committee for Lord Young’s Enterprise Education Review and has also worked in the welfare to work sector, taught English and helped set up a bar in Chile.

Bill Muirhead encourages young entrepreneurs to mix with others outside of their social groups to gain understanding and skills

Caroline England

Tech Entrepreneur

Caroline is the Founder and Director of Featherbed Tales, a family-friendly reading and storytelling web-based app which helps connect families and supports speech, language and reading development.

Through a series of bright and engaging recordable digital picture books, nursery rhymes and fun recordable greetings cards, the app connects families with loved ones when they cannot be together.

Caroline is a former student of The Abbey.

Ellen Whysall

President of the Reading Entrepreneurship Society

Ellen is a BA Accounting and Management student and President of the Entrepreneurship Society at the University of Reading (UoR). She has a huge passion for inspiring more women to enter the world of entrepreneurship and hopes to soon set up a sustainable female health company.

Ellen also plays an active role in the Social Enterprise Hub – a student entrepreneurship partnership between The Abbey and Reading School – where she leads the UoR mentors for the 2023/24 programme and looks to build stronger bridges between UoR, local schools and the community.

Ellen explains why she believes future entrepreneurs need to become more comfortable about taking risks

Gurprit Singh

Director, Ethical Reading

Gurprit is a founder and Director of Ethical Reading, a non-profit social enterprise currently in start-up mode. Its core aim is to improve ethical behaviours in organisations with a particular focus on employee engagement and the environment.

Gurprit has over 30 years experience in computing and IT. He holds a MSc in Electronics and is a Fellow of the British Computer Society.

Jonathan Bill

Entrepreneur and Innovator

As an entrepreneur Jonathan has founded and exited two Fintech businesses in Mumbai, India and invested in several more.

He returned to the UK with his family and is currently working on his next projects in Fintech and environmentally friendly air cooling.

Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial career, he held senior Product, Business Development and Marketing roles in Telecoms and Media in the UK, Africa and Asia.

Jurek Sikorski

Director of the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Henley Business School, University of Reading

Jurek is a business adviser to several start-up businesses and past chairman of several high-growth technology companies. At the UoR, Jurek is Director of the Henley Enterprise Lab at the prestigious Henley Business School. He founded Henley Business Angels, a network of leaders, investors and entrepreneurs connected to the Henley Business School.

Jurek specialises in life sciences and over 20 years was CEO of several private and UK main market and AIM listed companies.

Leon Samuel

Innovator, Investor, Human Centric Designer Thinker

Leon is CEO of Quantum-h, a driving force in the world of emerging technologies. His career is testament to a relentless pursuit of excellence, innovation and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of technology and human potential. Leon has spent over three decades at the forefront of revolutionary change in the emerging digital space, finance, and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors worldwide.

Mark Mason

Co-Founder and Director, Design Nature

Mark is a designer with a passion for inspiring the next generation – harnessing the power of creativity, teamwork and collaboration. A former member of the design leadership team and co-founder of the UK design team at Nokia, Mark has a track record of creating and delivering world-class products and programmes throughout his 30-year career.

In addition, Mark is a visiting tutor at the Loughborough University, Design School, and works with both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Mitch Lloyd

Founder, Petra Jewellery

Mitch is an experienced jewellery designer and diamond expert. She has an educational background based in engineering and leadership and project management skills developed during a military career.

Mitch went on to develop her commercial experience in investment banking.

Mitch believes that four years working for clients delivering construction projects has been a perfect foundation for running a retail and service based jewellery business.

Mitch is a former student of The Abbey.

Mitch believes talking to people about your ideas is a brilliant way to start your entrepreneurial journey

Professor Brad Hooker

Director, Ethical Reading

Brad is a co-director of Ethical Reading, a non-profit community interest company. He is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading in the Department of Philosophy and past president of the British Philosophical Association.

Brad is an expert in moral and political philosophy and his recent research includes fairness and financial regulation.

Will Haresceugh

Early Stage Founder

Will is a current 4th year student at the Henley Business School and the Founder of an AI-Powered Personal Development Platform which aims to revolutionise the educational landscape, allowing every student to maximise their potential and well-being. He has over 5-years experience as a professional actor, including roles in both ‘Bob The Builder’ and the Netflix Original Series, ‘Creeped Out’.

Top tips from our Entrepreneur Experts

Key Takeaways on Innovation

• Be passionate about your idea
• Start with a simple solution that solves a pain point
• Know your customer and what they need
• Have one revenue stream to begin with
• Encourage input & collaboration
• Know your market. There is plenty of room for innovation
• Have a secret sauce
• Keep pitching
• Continuous learning & adaptability
• Never give up

Leon Samuel
Innovator & Human Centric Design Thinker

Key takeaways for Building a Strong Brand

  1. Create a strong value proposition & brand identity (and good creative assets)
  2. Understand your target audience (needs, behaviours and preferences)
  3. Develop a good brand story and be consistent across all platforms to help build trust and credibility
  4. Stay true to your core mission but adapt and evolve with changing times
  5. Measure your impact

Amy Samuel
Digital Creative

  • Be inquisitive in other people’s entrepreneurial journeys! You won’t find two of the same stories.
  • Passion will drive your success.Find something you want to change… and change it!
  • Good people always want to help other good people.
  • Be bold! No goal is too crazy and no dream is too big!!!

Ellen Whysall
President of the Reading Entrepreneurial Society

  • Focus on the customer (make the customer happy, go above and beyond; you’ll always find the truth by talking with the customer; customer hold the answers to all questions)
  • Be the best at what you do (don’t accept second best)
  • Keep things simple (make things simple to understand, it was Albert Einstein who said ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler’)
  • Take responsibility until the end (don’t leave midway)
  • Stay ahead (and keep the lead in whatever you do)
  • Put products first (and profits will follow)
  • Look out for new and better ways to do things (change things)
  • Push for perfection (‘don’t accept mediocre’ so said Steve Jobs)
  • Know both the big picture and the details (remember the devil and the prize is in the details)
  • Become good at selling (nothing happens until somebody sells something to someone else)
  • Don’t accept ‘average’ (partner with the best)
  • Never give up (don’t succumb to mankind’s biggest weakness, success comes to those who try one more time)
  • Engage in person (and build trust and understanding)
  • Stay hungry, stay foolish’ (search for new opportunities, they are all around you)
  • Have fun (and enjoy the entrepreneurial journey)

Jurek Sikorski
Director of the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Henley Business School, University of Reading


Resource Material

Portraits of Success Virtual Exhibition

Explore the inspiring stories and images of female entrepreneurs celebrated in the #BeTheRoleModel campaign by NatWest and Getty Images HERE

Innovate UK: Young Inventors Awards

Read the inspiring stories of young inventors and find out more about how you can get involved.

Young Innovators 2021/22

Innovate UK Young Innovators Awards

Brand and Storytelling by ARCH expert Amy Samuel, Digital Creative

Discover why a company’s brand and story is so important for success

Innovation by ARCH expert Leon Samuel, Innovator & Human Centric Design Thinker

Find out more about how to develop your ideas and get started

Supporters & Partners