Start something you love in 2011

Henrietta Walsh goes behind the scenes at the Escape the City party

There’s a funny sort of feeling resonating through London. The traditional route for college leavers or university graduates to take a respectable job in the City is being called to question, as more and more people become disillusioned with their 9-to-5 office job. Nowhere was this desire to break-out and try something new more prevalent than at the Escape the City party last night at Guanabara club in Covent Garden, where we had the pleasure of hearing first-hand about some truly inspiring Escapees’ stories.

With the underlying message to ‘Start Something you Love in 2011’, we couldn’t be more aligned with this movement. Founded by Dom Jackman and Rob Symington in 2010, Escape the City aims to provide exciting alternatives for unfulfilled corporate professionals. Last night, some inspirational, and yet completely diverse speakers told their stories to an enthusiastic audience of 600, encouraging others eager to take the plunge and start their own business.

Lara Morgan, who founded Pacific Direct, which provides room accessories to luxury hotels around the world, gave an honest and somewhat ruthless account of starting a business and yet highlighted the enormous rewards and benefits of entrepreneurship. She said: “Don’t be deluded, it is hard and there will be some hideous moments, but don’t ever give up. If you start something you love, you’ve got every chance of success.”

Somewhat less feisty in her narrative was Zarine Kharas, co-founder of fund-raising platform Just Giving, which today boasts 13 million users and 10,000 charities, who between them have raised a whopping £1bn. She maintained that to be successful in business, it’s not necessary to have that “eureka moment”, but you just have to be able to spot an opportunity. Her transformation from City lawyer to entrepreneur is pivotal to the Escape the City movement and she upheld the view that entrepreneurship is a profession and can be learnt. “It’s hard, challenging and immensely rewarding,” she added.

Also speaking at the event was adventurer and author Al Humphreys, who cycled solo around the world, and Ed Stafford, the first man to walk the length of the Amazon – a journey that took him 860 days to complete. Their intrepid tales gave an alternative angle to the Escape the City concept; the audience were certainly spoilt for choice with the impressive line-up.

At Startups, we believe 2011 is going to be a great year for small firms and we’re looking forward to seeing a whole host of new businesses entering our space. As long as you’re willing to accept it, there’s a wealth of advice and support available, so if, like other Escapees, you’re fed up with the corporate grind, why not take the leap and start your own enterprise?

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2011

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