UK government creates Entrepreneurs' Forum advisory board. Which ones are just celebrities?

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Business secretary Vince Cable has created a new forum of high profile entrepreneurs to advise the government on business and enterprise policy.

They were unveiled at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week in the UK today.

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum will provide “informal and personal advice” and meet four times a year, starting in early 2011.

The government said the group will have up to 26 members but only 16 have been appointed so far. They are:

Dawn Gibbins, founder, Barefoot Living
Sarah Tremellen, founder, Bravissimo
Christiane Wuillamie, founder, Elgius
Jan Fletcher, chair, Montpellier Estates
Julie Meyer, founder, Ariadne Capital
Polly Gowers, founder, Everyclick
Anne Malkin, CEO, Access Risk Management Group
Kresse Wessling, founder, Elvis & Kresse
Shaf Rasul, founder, E-Net Computers
Tim Campbell, founder, Bright Ideas Trust
Carl Hopkins, founder, Joblink Solutions
Bruce Savage, director, Cherwell Capital
James Caan, investor, Dragons’ Den
Sahar Hashemi, founder, Skinny Candy
Sara Murray, managing director, Buddi
Baroness Margaret Ford, chair, Olympic Park Legacy Company

Cable has also given himself diversity points. As a release says; “a significant proportion of the forum are women and increasing the rate of female entrepreneurs is one area the forum will be encouraged to look at.”

I would be delighted for our commenters to pick out the celebrities from the *real* entrepreneurs and the investors in entrepreneurs.

Ok, go.

  • Jamie

    I think your attempt to make a distinction between “celebrities” and “entrepreneurs” is a little outdated here…

    Celebrities are by their very nature ambitious self starters who break the mould and risk huge amounts of time and resource in pursuing their goals.

    They are fundamentally responsible for establishing and running their own brand, and then using that as leverage to generate new revenue channels.

    So distinguish between them you cannot…

  • Scott Allison

    I’ve only heard of 1/3 of these appointees before, YMMV. Fortunately there is just one refugee from Dragons’ Den.

    This Government seems to understand the importance of entrepreneurs and smaller businesses, which is great. The last Govt had a Business Council, and apart from Brent Hoberman consisted of corporate CEOs. No wonder corporation tax for large companies was cut and increased for small companies.

  • Chris Harris

    Julie Meyer and James Caan? Says all you need to know. #fail

  • Joe White

    In defence of Mike, celebs may share some characteristics with entrepreneurs, but they are not quite building the businesses of the future. They develop their personal brand to maximise their personal earning power. This is not the same as business building. And certainly not the kind of thing that the Cameron Tech City hopes to pick up and run with by supporting the transition from £100m to £1bn UK companies.

    It’s a shame there aren’t a few more who are building/have built successful UK businesses, of the kind that can scale.

    • Mike Butcher

      “They develop their personal brand to maximise their personal earning power”. Quite.

      • Jamie

        But surely EVERYBODY in business develops their personal brand to maximise their personal earning power? That is one of the key tenets on which Game Theory is built.

        I’m pretty sure that Roc-a-Fella Records will continue to invest in new artists and reap the rewards long after Jay-Z has popped his clogs…

      • Mike Butcher

        Oh sure, but the question is the ratio. If you derive 99% of your income from TV ads or speaking or media appearances, are you still close enough to the real coal-face of startups, business and investing to be capable of giving up-to-date advice to government that isn’t already out of date because you garnered it years ago, before you were famous, and now the world has changed. I’ll just leave that there.

  • Scott Sage

    Vince Cable is one of the few British Politicians that I actually respect but this has #fail written all over it. Who are these people? Probe a little deeper and we will probably find that half of them are based in Jersey/Guernsey with Mr. Hands. And what’s with the political rhetoric of increasing the number of female entrepreneurs? Shouldn’t we simply be supporting those companies with the greatest prospects for global domination? Vince please swallow this giant dose of meritocracy you so desperately need.

  • Permjot

    There is nothing wrong with someone being both a celeb and an entrepreneur/ advisor. Problem is when the focus is more on the celeb side than the business side.

    I am just suspicious of people who place more emphasis on being seen to be effective rather than being effective.

    Politics and business is never an easy mix.

  • Wendy Tan White

    Ok, just to deal with the the diversity point first as a female entrepreneur myself. Diversity is important but it clearly shouldn’t be on binary lines e.g. male/female. It’s about representation in multiple areas that reflects both the groups in question (in this case well known, proven entrepreneurs) and also the audience(developing and emerging entrepreneurs). I had a good chat about diversity in advisory boards with Amelia Fawcett recently, she was chairman of Guardian Media Group, National Portrait Gallery and on the board of Morgan Stanley. So yes gender, but also age, experience, culture and race are important.

    Personally, I care more about the experience the entrepreneur forum has vs. gender. I want to be inspired and reassured that this group will spur on our coalition government to innovate their policies to support entrepreneurs in trying economic times.

    Also the ability to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs is surely key to this group. Last week the government announced it’s vision for Tech City and how the technology sector is going to spearhead UK entrepreneurial growth and boot our economic future. I’m disappointed not to see more tech entrepreneurs in the group, good to see Julie but there should be more representation of experienced founders one’s who have IPO’s or exited e.g Michael Birch, Brent Hoberman, Mike Lynch etc.

    There’s been a lot of debate that we need to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the UK. In the US the entrepreneurs that invest and advise are the likes of Niklas Zennström(founder skype), Pierre Omidiyar(founder eBAY), Marc Andreesen(founder Netscape) etc plus a huge network of angels and individuals who came out of Paypal, Google, Microsoft etc who also support, advise and invest.

    Initiatives like Techhub and silicon roundabout’s community, Cambridge and Imperial College are catalysts in creating the UK ecosystem. Tech City is a nice idea but arguably too top down

    • Farhan Lalji


      Totally with you on the top down perception (wrote about it on my blog as well –

      However, if the gov’t is going to do something like this I’m glad they’re thinking about diversity / female representation as women go through challenges with careers and start ups that men will never understand (like how much it takes out of your career to start a family).

  • Paul Walsh, the Irish Opportunist | » Don’t appoint women for the sake of it

    […] morning I read a post on TechCrunch, a post relating to the UK Government’s creation of an ‘Entrepreneur’s forum advisory […]

  • Daniel Snell

    This feels very top down. Like many governments well intentioned initiatives, the traction will be hard to garner.

    If there is interest, it will be from those that value celebrity status.

  • David Atherton

    I have been following Lord Sugar’s tweets who is the UK’s Enterprise Tsar.

    His tweets give the impression book sales, his number of followers and his celebrity status is of greater importance than giving a useful business insight.

    I think a genuine passion to help young British entrepreneurs is something to be admired but I question the benefit when self promotion is so clearly the main motivation.

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  • Atonveptern

    That’s another well written and informative piece of info, while a little too advanced for those of us inexperienced in forex.
    I would be glad to see something on the basics everyone needs to keep in mind .

  • BieberFeverForEverrrr


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