What’s the big idea?

Rock the Cotswolds, the campaign showcasing exciting and entrepreneurial Cotswold talent, has released its much-anticipated tickets for ‘Innovation Rocks’ a brand new event helping innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs secure vital venture capital or angel investment for their business.


Innovation Rocks, sponsored by BPE solicitors, will take place on Friday 10th June at Renishaw’s £20 million Innovation Centre at Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire in front of up to 200 senior business leaders.

Since January entries have poured into Innovation Rocks from inventors and entrepreneurs across the Cotswolds in a variety of categories, and shortlisting has now commenced. In early May, six local entrepreneurs will be notified that they have been shortlisted to pitch their business idea or invention to a panel of venture capitalists and private investors at Innovation Rocks on June 10th.

Finalists and delegates will also hear from keynote speaker, Tom Lawton, one of the UK’s most exciting inventors and star of Channel 4’s Fantastic Floating Home, and meet some Rock the Cotswolds’ rockers: unusual and exciting businesses trading successfully from their Cotswold base.

To encourage budding entrepreneurs and innovators ahead of the event, Tom has created his own list of tips to succeed:

1. Simplify everything.

2. Don’t follow trends. Trends appear at the end of an innovation wave. Learn to spot trends before they happen, or be bold and set your own. Follow your own instincts. Do what you believe is right. Be your own compass.

3. Question yourself, your product, your strategy, always. Don’t rely on assumptions for they are the mother of all cock-ups. But don’t doubt yourself too much either – let the naysayers do that (and there are plenty of them). You have to be your own champion. That’s not arrogant. Fill your own confidence without being full of yourself. Innovators by nature embrace change, whereas the mainstream/status quo is afraid of it.

4. Do your best to learn from other people’s mistakes (before you make them yourself) – read innovation stories on success and failure – not just stories of the big, billion dollar innovators, try and reach out to smaller ventures which you may find more relatable. Kids can be wise when they avoid the pitfalls that ‘grown ups’ get trapped in. Start ups need to be wise like this too.

Be careful who you choose as your heroes and never get fanatical. Nobody has ever gotten everything right despite what their marketing and PR tells you. I have learned many great fails behind the scenes that you’d never imagine were possible – often in the most well funded organisations. Brands get built on the stories of their strengths but sometimes that paints an unrealistic picture, so treat other people’s triumphs with respect but add a pinch of salt. Success has many fathers and there’s always a certain amount of luck involved.

5. Use the power of the people. Crowd funding is such a great way to raise essential and hard to find seed funding but there are much greater benefits too. An early customer base can help you to shape your product proposition and verify your market. Early adopters are the best ambassadors for your product if you deliver on time and meet their expectations. But crowd funding is only part of the story. You are highly unlikely to have a runaway, million dollar campaign.

6. Be the soul of your company by defining its purpose. Purpose is more motivating for you and your team than profit alone. But profit is important if you want to keep going. You should feel proud about what you are trying to achieve. Be the change you want to see in the world and don’t sell yourself short. Don’t’ let that be dismissed as being idealistic and ‘worthy’ either. So many entrepreneurs say that they will do good when they have made their money but I think that’s the wrong approach. These people rarely ever make enough money to look back and stop. Forever wanting more is a cultural disease of the modern world. If you feel you have to give back then perhaps you are taking too much in the first place?

7. Innovators tend to perceive risk in an entirely different way than investors do. Do what you can to take the risk out of your ventures by building confidence that you are ready for support. Ask yourself the questions an investor would but don’t be afraid to ask searching questions of them too. Don’t waste your time chasing the wrong investor, most are just looking to efficiently manage their tax liability – you need someone who invests deeper than that. You want them to invest because they actually believe in you and your innovation.

8. Tell your story. No one else is going to. No one is looking to discover you or your product so you have to put yourself out there. There are so many methods these days but there are also so many other voices. You can’t afford to be a shrinking violet. So make your voice clear.

9. Accept the fact that there will be competition. You will be copied. You will likely get ripped off. So embrace it. Ideas are like that – we all inspire each other. Celebrate the fact that other people think in similar ways to you but do learn to bounce because at some point you will fall. Remember that ‘being’ innovative is your greatest strength so always keep on the cutting edge. Always one step ahead. Keep dreaming and feed your creative fire in whatever way that works. You don’t have to justify your methods to anyone. Only compare yourself to your former self… so keep moving forward.

10. Learn to wear many hats but work out which one fits your head best. You can’t be everything to all people. In that way neither should your innovation be, so focus on the problem you set out to solve and design a solution that really fits. While it’s important to respond to market feedback don’t fall in to the trap of making your innovation smart for the sake of it. Do one thing well and then build upon it. Does it really need to connect to the internet?

Two bonus tips and probably the most important…

11. Put people and the planet first. They are more important than your profits or your ego. To ignore the environmental and social implications of your innovation is so last century that you don’t really deserve to call yourself an innovator if you are dragging us back to the past.

12. Make the process fun. Chances are your goal posts will move a little by the time you reach the end so realise that even in times of struggle and strife, in failure and desperation you are alive and at least trying to do what you love. So have fun while you’re doing it. Life is too short.

Innovation Rocks is the brainchild of Rock The Cotswolds, the only campaign highlighting the creativity, services, events, talent, organisations and world-leading companies in the Cotswolds. It is supported by BPE LLP, Crowe Clark Whitehill, Lockton, The Growth Hub, money.co.uk and Neon Play.

To apply for tickets please go to: www.rockthecotswolds.com. Tickets are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

About Rock the Cotswolds

Rock the Cotswolds is changing perceptions of the Cotswolds, often known more for its chocolate-box villages, horse-racing festivals and royal connections than the successful, entrepreneurial and technology-leading companies based there. The aim is to boost the local economy and inward investment into the Cotswolds
(Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire), helping the region attract and retain skilled people to build their careers in an area they may otherwise have overlooked. The campaign has endorsement from national celebrities, politicians, Cotswold people and businesses.

Nominate a Rocker

Rock the Cotswolds announces five new Rockers every month. To nominate a rocker and be introduced to the Rocker roster, visit www.rockthecotswolds.com.

A ‘Rocker’ is a business, person, event, charity or venue located in the Cotswolds, an area not always associated with cool and funky.

Posted by melissa@rockthecotswolds.com