The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

What Next? Conference brings the best in tech to the North West

Interested in business and how to break in? Want to kickstart your own start up? Excited to enter the world of entrepreneurship? This is the conference for you

By

This February marks the fourth annual What Next? Conference, hosted by the Manchester Entrepreneurs Society. I sat down with Vice President Manit Sethi, and grilled him on what the conference is all about, why we should be there, and what we could learn from the wealth of entrepreneurial brains who will be in attendance.

Hi Manit. Firstly, what is the Manchester Entrepreneurs Society?

Manit: “The Manchester Entrepreneurs Society aims to connect students who have great ideas to the resources, mentors, and funding they need to kickstart their business. We do this through running workshops and talks, hosting and promoting networking events like Silicon Drinkabout Manchester, running a pre-seed accelerator called Accelerate ME, and organising our annual What Next? Conference.”

Tell me about the What Next? Conference, how it began, and what your goals are.

“We want to awaken your entrepreneurial potential with our annual What Next? Conference. The Manchester Entrepreneurs Society will be hosting a jam-packed day for the fourth time on the 27th of February 2016. You’ll hear from a range of leading entrepreneurs and visionaries, and participate in workshops designed specifically for you, enabling students and other attendees to explore the startup scene in Manchester and around the world.

Over the years the What Next? Conference has become the North West’s largest student business conference, attracting over 300 students, graduates, and entrepreneurial minds to network, learn, and be inspired. We want to inspire and motivate students who have amazing ideas and are thinking of kickstarting their own start up.

We’ve managed to attract and secure a fantastic lineup of speakers ever since the first conference, and these speakers do make an impact on the attendees. We have also incorporated workshops and pitch competitions into the conference to make it more dynamic.”

Photo: Hector Kolonas (included.co)

Photo: Hector Kolonas (by included.co)

How will the conference help an aspiring business owner to get ahead?

“This year, the theme is ‘Digital Disruption’. We are currently in the midst of the digital revolution and startups and entrepreneurs must take full advantage of digital technologies to gain a competitive advantage and be successful.

Take a minute and look at the young and up and coming startups today: The world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the largest accommodation provider owns no real estate (Airbnb), the world’s largest movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix), and the largest software vendors don’t write the apps (Apple and Google). The world is changing.”

What makes this year’s conference so special?

“Our headline speakers include Head of Technology for Partners at Microsoft, James Akrigg, Founder at Space Energy and Millionaire Business School, Peter Sage, Former Editor-in Chief at The Next Web, Martin Bryant, and many more! They will not only share their journey to success and provide advice and tips for young entrepreneurs, but they will also discuss their approach to embracing change and leveraging digital technologies to be successful.”

I don’t study Business—could I still benefit from the Conference?

“Regardless of what degree background you have or what you aspire to do in the future, attending the What Next? Conference will increase your awareness of the drastic changes that the business and startup environment is going through, as well as being a fantastic opportunity to make new friends and meet people. You’ll also have a chance to pitch an idea—no matter how big or small. Any participant can pitch their ideas under three different categories: Business, Technology, or Social Enterprise, for a chance to win £500 cash!”

It sounds great—where do I sign up?

“For more information about What Next? and to purchase tickets to the conference you can visit whatnextconference.co.uk. Student tickets cost £16.99; this includes breakfast, welcoming remarks, access to the talks by our headline speakers, workshops, lunch, and pitch competitions, as well as an afterparty at a nearby club, so I think it’s really great value.

It’s not to be missed!”

Photo: Hector Kolonas (included.co)

Photo: Hector Kolonas (by included.co)