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This year’s Brighton Summit promises, as always, to have something for everyone. From high growth companies and entrepreneurs to those considering starting up a business, and every possible category in between.

One of the keynote speakers at the Summit will be Ciro Romano, owner of Neapolitan Music. Ciro spent many years as legal adviser for the Polygram music label but decided he wanted to work for himself, so he launched the Neapolitan label and music management firm. He is responsible for Love Supreme, which happens each July at Glynde Place and is fast becoming one of Britain’s leading jazz music festivals. He will talk about the challenges of developing the idea into what it is today – a high growth business.

The session is once again being sponsored by Barclays. Paul Williams, Relationship Director, Corporate Banking, was recently interviewed by Jill Woolf, Chamber Vice-President and Lead Ambassador and Managing Director of PR and marketing consultancy, Chimera Communications.

We’re delighted Barclays is again on board for this year’s Brighton Summit, Paul. How did you find last year’s event?

It was very engaging, with high quality speakers and thought-provoking interactive workshops. There was some really good audience engagement and a high standard of discussion. At the Barclays stand I had some great conversations with entrepreneurs about their businesses and how we can support them in their ambitions, and I look forward to meeting more this year. And it was good fun, too.

Tell me more about your unit’s role within the bank, and the synergy between what you do and the session you’re sponsoring. As head of the High Growth & Entrepreneur team, what are you looking for in an ideal high growth business?

In black and white, a high growth company should be consistently growing at 20% each year in terms of revenue and number of employees over the last three years, or has received external investment through post-seed funding. That said, not all high growth businesses fit into the black and white definition so we also look at the companies’ USPs, growth potential, management team and strategic plans to move the business forward. I’m sure Ciro’s experience will be much more colourful and I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

A year ago, your High Growth & Entrepreneur service was brand new. What have been the highlights of the last year for the team?

Building and maintaining forward momentum in a high growth business requires continuous investment, so we developed a suite of funding options to meet the changing needs of a high growth business. Barclays can support entrepreneurs from idea to IPO utilising our £200m fund for venture debt lending.
The specialist Brighton team has individuals from many parts of the business including a dedicated High Growth and Entrepreneur Manager, so we’re able to guide and support a company from start-up all the way through to flotation or sale. In the last year, we’ve been able to put that into practice with many businesses from all sorts of sectors.

What particular challenges do high growth entrepreneurs have that others don’t?

Good question! Funding presents a huge challenge to scale-up businesses, but it’s not all about money, the skills gap and ability to scale at speed, production and personnel also present unique challenges for scale up businesses. Entrepreneurs need to be able to demonstrate top level acumen to cope with these challenges or have the right people in their team to support them.

What’s been happening at the Eagle Lab this year?

Barclays’ Eagle Lab provides the facility for UK start-up businesses to co-locate, collaborate and grow.
The Eagle Lab provides access to resources including expert mentoring, 3D printers and laser cutters – giving Brighton’s start-up community a crucial boost. There’s more information on or pop into the Eagle Lab at Preston Circus. The facility offers some useful meeting facilities and has really begun to make its mark in the area with creatives and 3D businesses.

Tell me about your background and journey to get to your current post. Do you have an entrepreneurial background?

I’ve been a business manager with Barclays in Brighton for 20 years and I’ve supported start-up businesses all the way to corporate companies. It’s great to see some of the entrepreneurs I helped to start up now turning over six-figure sums. I’ve always lived and worked in the area and I feel I have developed a strong understanding of the unique Brighton market.

It’s been great to talk with you again, Paul, and I know you’ll enjoy this year’s Summit.

It’s been a pleasure. Once again, I’ll be there with members of my team so not only will be joining in with the day, we’re there to answer any questions and offer advice. This year, even more, I’m really looking forward to the day and in particular our sponsored session on high growth business.

Many thanks to Jill Woolf for writing this blog.

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