9 months ago I took on the role of ‘Community Engagement & Partnerships Manager’ for Tech North, a new Government-backed organisation aiming to galvanise and accelerate digital entrepreneurship in the North of England.
United in our mission to help re-balance the UK economy by shining a light on the amazing tech businesses that already existed ‘up North’ and promote greater collaboration between our major Northern cities, one of the major attractions for me was the chance to spend time in Manchester each week.
Like many people throughout the UK, the music of ‘Madchester’ was the soundtrack to my life as a kid growing up in the early 90s and over 25yrs later, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays are still my favourite bands. Not only was the music and artwork of Factory Records and other labels breathtakingly exciting, part of the enduring appeal was what I refer to as the ‘Mancunian Swagger’ - a confidence, cockiness and wilfulness that comes with a proven track record of success and a belief you can take on the world and win! (Watch this great interview with legendary designer Peter Saville of Factory Records / New Order / Hacienda fame explaining his ‘Original Modern’ concept for the City of Manchester):
And Manchester certainly is winning. It’s now widely regarded as the UK’s second city (sorry Birmingham) which is borne out of strong leadership at Manchester city council, genuinely innovative and groundbreaking technology coming from the local universities and business community plus a real ‘can do’ attitude from entrepreneurs everywhere.
Not only is Manchester an amazing city, steeped in world-changing history, there’s a real buzz and excitement in the air. I’ve been impressed by just how ‘up for it’ people there are, knowing that they’re on the cusp of great things and that the future is theirs for the taking.
And no-one demonstrates this more to me than Jonny Cadden, the founder and organiser of the Business Rocks tech, music + investment summit taking place in Manchester on 21-22 April 2016. When Jonny came to see me and the Tech North team in August 2015 during my first week in the job he was everything I wanted a young entrepreneur from Manchester to be. Hugely ambitious and tenacious with the ability to dream big for himself and the city.
When Jonny asked us to come onboard as a sponsor we had no real way of knowing whether Business Rocks would really happen but we had an ‘Ecosystem Support Budget’ to support new events and initiatives that others might deem too risky but which we felt would help catalyse more entrepreneurial endeavours in the city. Together, Claire Braithwaite (Head of Tech North) and I believed Jonny was someone worth backing and that with the right support behind him he’d pull it off and I’m delighted to say that he has.
In my opinion we Brits spend far too much time celebrating overseas entrepreneurs instead of supporting our homegrown talent and over the past 9 months I’ve been hugely impressed by Jonny’s perseverance, professionalism and positivity as he’s hustled each day to bring Business Rocks to life. Jonny Cadden I salute you and thank you for giving us this event. It’s now up to us to make the most of this amazing opportunity to show the world what the North is made of. See you on the dancefloor!
Watch my Blab interview with Jonny below and then get your Business Rocks conference pass from just £99 here!