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Home / Latest News / The Do Lectures now with added Do Start Up

The Do Lectures now with added Do Start Up

“In a field, in a tent, in a small clever country called Wales.” 

I was in that field last week, attending the Do Start Up at Fforest farm, Ceredigion. 

The Do Lectures, or “Do” as you quickly come to call them, is an “ideas festival” founded by David and Clare Hieatt. 

The Hieatts know their stuff when it comes to founding. They founded clothing company Howies based in Cardigan Bay, which they later sold.  Then came Hiut Denim, which has brought jeans manufacture back to Cardigan. 

They also know lots of other people who know their stuff when it comes to founding.   The Do Lectures gathers together these entrepreneurs to share their experiences and their advice with people who have start up ideas of their own.

Budding entrepreneurs from all over the world apply to attend.  I met people from Australia, Canada, America, Brazil and Holland.  People come a very long way to spend three days in a chilly tent in a field in Wales. 

With good reason. The speakers are amazing. There was Michael Acton Smith who set up (amongst other things) entertainment company Mind Candy, which created Moshi Monsters and is valued at £200m.

 Described by the Daily Mail as a “rock star version of Willy Wonka” Acton’s enthusiasm for his business, for entrepreneurship and for the Do Lectures was infectious.

Scott Davis worked as a chef in London and New York with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and for Japanese restaurant Nobu.

But he came home to Carmarthenshire to set up food company Cnwd with his wife Kirsty, producing pates, terrines and premium smoked wild fish.

Scott was funny and self deprecating, talking about the difficulties of cash flow when you purchase your ingredients locally and only in season.

His stories about negotiating to buy produce from the coracle boat fisher men, the duck man and the mushroom guy had the whole tent laughing.  Tim Little told how he moved from advertising to shoe making, breathing fresh life into Northamptonshire shoemaker Grenson established in 1866 but grown staid.  Tim created what has become the company’s signature look: a classic brogue with oversized patterning and a beefed-up sole. 

A common theme emerges amongst the speakers.  The importance of not just business success but also of being connected to your community, being a decent employer, sustainability, putting something back for the greater good.  This theme continues, since all the lectures are filmed and are shared for free at dolectures.com

This year included a new experiment – Do Start Up.  In between the talks there were workshops where the attendees were tasked with developing a brand new business idea. 

At the end of the 72 hours new businesses were being born, mentored along the way by advice from experts in social media, branding and marketing, funding and law.

You sleep in communal tents and eat great food in a wooden shack.  It is cold.   When I arrived I noticed that around one in three people were wearing North Face puffa jackets.  Within an hour I really wished I had one.  And some thermals.   Everyone smells of wood smoke from the fires and clutches a tin mug of tea or coffee from the urn to keep warm. 

The views are stunning.  The conversation is lively, studded with different ideas and different accents.  And all made right here in Wales. 

My father has a favourite Oscar Wilde quote.  “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 

The Do Lectures brings people to Wales and helps them catch a glimpse of starry night.

Bethan Darwin is a partner with Cardiff law firm Darwin Gray,

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