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20 October 2013

Chase the dream, not the competition

"I’m in a creative industries’ members club in Central London. I’ve got Colombia to the left of me, Vietnam to the right… just a normal day in the life of an extraordinary tour" Caroline Meaby blogs about international winners in London.

Nhat Linh Phan Gia

YCE winners

Earlier this year, British Council Arts teams in the countries above – plus Lebanon, China, Nigeria and Spain – held competitions to find the most exciting entrepreneurs under 35 working in digital storytelling. Last week, I and the team welcomed them to London for their prize - a week-long tour of London’s multimedia sector, centred on the Cross Media Forum and a bespoke series of networking opportunities and panel sessions to stimulate new insights into running a creative business.

Trend Safari in Shoreditch

This amazing and diverse group of emerging creative business leaders deserved an amazing and diverse programme. There was a lot to get through in the week. We had a pretty tight timetable, which interesting when you're dealing with entrepreneurs who generally aren't used to being told what to do. Fortunately, they liked what they saw on the programme. Too many highlights to mention but here are my top 5 takeouts from the week:

Step out of silos, stop being platform orientated, become audience orientated

Enjoying the view in between Power to the Pixel sessions


One of many nuggets of wisdom from Power to the Pixel’s Cross Media Forum. Highlights of the conference included a keynote from Xbox Studios’ Elan Lee, a masterclass from Harmony Institute on using big data to measure social impact of content and of course the puppet vegetables leading the entire BFI audience in a hands-in-the-air full on dance along. Yes, really. You had to be there.

When you put creative entrepreneurs around a table, magic starts to happen

Samir Ceric leads a roundtable on entrepreneurship


One of the most insightful YCE sessions was the entrepreneur roundtable chaired by serial entrepreneur Samir Ceric. Samir created a space where all the YCEs were able to talk about their businesses and explore the challenges facing them in an environment of trust and cooperation. It’s quite remarkable to see strangers from such very different places open up to each other and even more remarkable to see them start to support each other with empathy and practical suggestions. The real journey started here.

Chase the dream, not the competition

Pat Younge and Jamal Edwards


The business mantra of 22 year old entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, who set up online entertainment content channel SBTV in his bedroom when just 16 years old. Jamal words were echoed by other speakers on the tour including Matt Clark, partner at Mother, Channel Flip’s Wil Harris and Aframe’s David Peto.

NB Two days after Jamal spoke to us, news broke that his company had just been valued at £8 million. Nice.

Be professional, be fun, be playful. Make people feel they are part of the journey

Virtual reality at Inition


Our YCE Creative Leadership panel led by BBC Productions CCO Pat Younge was full of brilliant insights into running creative teams. Hiring people for their passion and keeping that passion alive was a key topic, as well as what inspires people to produce and deliver creative ideas (clue – it’s not money). The need for effective staff communication was brought up by all panellists. Skills Matter CEO Wendy Devolder does it by banning internal email and getting everyone on their feet every 45 minutes! And talking of being playful, we had lots of fun at Inition, although that video of me clutching my seat in terror while on their virtual reality rollercoaster better not see the light of day.

And finally... don’t put all your trust in Trip Advisor when it comes to choosing a curry house on Brick Lane.

Plus if the wine looks weird, it probably is…

Thanks to the all our fantastic speakers and companies, including Paul Boross, Minibar, ChristianAhlert, Karl Warner, Poke, Protein, Westminster Impact Hub, Indy Johar and all mentioned above!

And thanks to the YCE winners, who now become part of our global alumni network and who we hope to continue working with in future in their countries and beyond.

Caroline Meaby is the global programme manager for the Young Creative Entrepreneurs Programme.