Lawrence Jones is the founder and CEO of UKFast - the web hosting company he set up in 1999 with his wife and business partner, Gail.
An unwavering focus on customer service has seen the firm grow quickly and consistently to over £40 million turnover with 400 staff, without taking on any outside investment. With more than 4,000 direct clients and over 400,000 domains on its network, UKFast has helped grow the internet fortunes of thousands of businesses including many of its true success stories such as Eazyfone and Funky Pigeon as well as huge brands like Virgin and Ministry of Sound.
As the entrepreneur at the helm of UKFast, Jones has gained a unique view of the internet over a decade, helping many other entrepreneurs to make their fortunes online. In 2007, Lawrence won the IOD's Young Director of the Year Award, in 2010 he was EN Magazine's Technology Entrepreneur of the Year and in 2011 EN crowned him North West Entrepreneur of the Year.
One of the North's best known yet modest entrepreneurs, Tom sold fire extinguishers door to door, studied a degree in politics, and ran a market stall down Affleck's Arcade. He made more money sub-letting the space than selling his posters. That's how it started.
As well as steering Urban Splash through the many ups and recent downs of business, Tom chairs the Manchester International Festival and is a trustee of The Tate, Manchester United Foundation and is also Chancellor of The University of Manchester. Tom was awarded an MBE for services to architecture and urban regeneration in 1999.
Colin Stevens' entrepreneurial journey began when he dabbled in online sales to support himself at the age of 17 as he pursued his dream of becoming a professional golfer. In the four years that followed Stevens gradually turned his attention away from golf and focused on making money.
At just 21, the British entrepreneur began selling taps on eBay from his bedroom. Soon he expanded into other bathroom fixtures and fittings; and in 2001 www.betterbathrooms.com was born.
In leading the internet revolution within an industry that traditionally relied on high street footfall, Stevens was able to take market share from competitor failings.
In 2003 the first Better Bathrooms store opened in Wigan. Better Bathrooms achieved phenomenal growth and the 14,000sq ft Warrington store open in 2008, followed by a 10,000sq ft Manchester store in 2010. In January 2013, the flagship Wigan Store moved to a new 20,000 sq ft premise, which now boasts the largest tile showroom area in the North West. Looking to expand upon this, in December 2013 the Leicester showroom opened, followed by the first showroom in the south East in Slough, which opened on 3rd June 2014.
Claire is Ventures Director at the Co-op Group, working to create a co-operative digital community in Manchester. She is also HM Treasury's Fintech envoy for the Northern Powerhouse, Tech Advisor to the Manchester Growth Company and sits on the advisory boards for public data initiatives GM Connect and Health Connected Cities.
Previously Claire was the first Head of Tech North, a government initiative announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, to accelerate the growth of Northern England’s digital economy.
In 2005 Claire founded an award winning online retail platform for sustainable beauty brands. After selling the business Claire became Chief Financial and Operations Officer at ClearlySo, a financial intermediary in the UK impact investing space working with tech for good start-ups & social enterprises.
Serial entrepreneur Steve has successfully built and exited several businesses, including Surfcontrol, a FTSE 250 company, as well as we (sold to Tesco) and Identum (sold to Trend Micro). He has also been involved in raising over £250m in funding from various financial sources including VC, flotation on AiM, EASDAQ and the London main market
Steve loves the energy of taking something from nothing and breathing life into it and seeing a business find its feet and grow from start up to upstart to maturity, increasing value along the way and building high quality teams who care.
Richard left school at 17 to work as a coal miner in South Yorkshire. From there he became a mining engineer, gained a degree from Imperial College and went to work for RTZ in Australia before training as a Chartered Accountant, working as a Finance Director and becoming Chief Executive of GB Group in 2002.
Spotting the emerging trend towards the use of intelligence derived from data to disrupt existing business models, Richard led GBG through the launch of the world's first electronic ID verification service, combatting the rise in identity related fraud. Today, the company is world leader in identity data intelligence with a market value that has risen over 90 fold since he became CEO. Richard is also an early stage investor in and Chairman of online motor finance market leader Zuto and an investor in RealityMine, a data analytics business.
Paul has a background in managing complex multimedia projects for prestigious museums and galleries around the world. This includes being Creative Director for the world's largest audio-visual exhibit at Expo 2000 in Hannover.
In his role at MMU as Director of Digital Innovation, Paul is responsible for building relationships with broadcasters, agencies and other companies in the North West's digital media sector. He also oversees digital activities in the Shed, MMU's space for innovation and business and previously was the digital media innovations director at University College Falmouth.
Lou started her career working for a number of large multinational ad agencies before founding interactive design company magneticNorth in the Summer of 2000. MagneticNorth is an award winning, independent digital design company in Manchester which produces innovative work for.
She has led the business from its original team of four to a now internationally renowned business and brand with a multi-award winning portfolio of work and a blue chip client list that includes BBC, ARUP, Reuters and Marketing Manchester. Lou is a board member of the Greater Manchester LEP and of CityCo. She chairs the marketing group for Manchester City of Science 2016 and the advisory board of Design Manchester.
Lou also has a number of prestigious business awards to her name including 'Manchester Young Director of the Year' from the IoD and in 2010 she was named both 'Digital Entrepreneur' and 'Female Entrepreneur of the Year' by Entrepreneur magazine.
Jonathan began his career at Radio Humberside before moving into BBC Sport. He later became Editor, 5 live Sport where he was responsible for overseeing flagship output such as the Olympics, Wimbledon, and the football World Cup in Germany and Japan/S Korea, before being appointed Deputy Controller and Commissioning Editor, Radio 5 live, in July 2008.
Born in 1972 in Manchester, Jonathan attended Altrincham Grammar School, before completing a media and communications degree at the University of Central England and a Postgraduate qualification in broadcast journalism at Falmouth College of Arts.
An Optician turned Fashion Entrepreneur, Jess Jeetly, Founder and CEO of Petite Clothing Brand JEETLY. Having no fashion or business background, Jess was driven to start her business in 2013 after she was fed up of being told by her patients that she didn't look old enough for her job. She realised it was her ill-fitting clothes that made her look like a girl dressed in mum's clothing. When she couldn't find clothes to fit her petite 5'1 frame, she decided to create a brand for short women like her.
Jeetly is the first clothing brand for women 5'3 and under that puts customers in control of what gets made, in an effort to give petite women a say in fashion. Petite customers send in design ideas. Jeetly creates samples and showcases them on the website. The designs are then voted IN or OUT of the next collection by petite women worldwide. Petite women submit comments on changes that could be made to the design, be it colour, cut or style. The individual with the winning suggestion that is put into production not only gets the finished garment FREE when it's retailed, the garment is named after them.