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NW StartUp 2.0 – 4th Event – Speaker line up

Further to my previous post, this time, we reach out to the USA. Our keynote speaker is none other than my friend, Billa Bhandari from Akoura. I first came to know Billa through FounderContact (Am I becoming an Indian – My new friend Billa and his clever software). He is one of those characters who somehow squeezes time to help budding entrepreneurs whilst negotiating his own business challenges. He has been an inspiration to me, especially during those dark days of ebdex when everything started to go wrong. Billa inspired me with his own battle stories. Whilst we have not spoken much recently, I am looking forward to meeting my friend in flesh for the first time.

Let’s move on to our second exceptional speaker, Lee Strafford, whom I met for the first time at the last NW StartUp 2.0 event. I knew of Lee, but never met him until the last event. Lee has performed remarkably well in the very competitive ISP space overcoming significant challenges. During my six months at BT, helping BT to understand their ISP customers better, I had the privilege to visit Plus.Net. I was so impressed with their performance, I bought shares when I got home. Two things inspired me, these being: Plus.Net’s ability to plug into Sheffield University which ensured a continuous stream of new talent, and second, the level of automation achieved within the business. I have never used Plus.Net for broadband, so I cannot comment on their level of customer service. I have quite a low opinion of ISPs given my battles with NTL and now with TalkTalk. But what I read suggests that the whole Plus.Net business revolved around customer excellence. I am looking forward to hearing Lee’s story and his new initiative Project Sahara.

Teaser: Can you name the two ex-UK ISP CEOs who run UK based EIPP businesses?

Third speaker, Chris Astle from m-send is bit of a mystery to me, as I only met him yesterday. He comes highly recommended by Paul Treloar, the man who runs Daresbury Innovation Centre, a superb networker, always looking to connect one company/individual with another, bringing value to North West business community. As I am still awaiting for his profile, I will introduce him separately. He is an ex-Microsoftie with KPMG connectivity.

I am also in discussion with number of local VCs. Will let you know the outcome.

I also plan to take few minutes and update the audience of how OpenCoffee, SeedCamp and Project Sahara could be used as catalysts for driving innovation in the North. Perhaps couple of powerpoint slides. I hear a “oh no”!

Must sign off now as I need to design the mail shot and reach out. Here is an extract from the NW StartUp 2.0 on speakers:

Moderator – Manoj Ranaweera – ebdex and edocr

Manoj is currently in the process of turning around ebdex to become a niche consultancy specialising in EIPP (e-invoicing) and supply chain finance, providing corporate and vendor advisory and vendor analysis services in addition to business advisory for startups and early stage businesses. Manoj has also teamed up with Rhys Jones (previous speaker) and founders of Ixis to bring edocr, which can be best described as “YouTube for documents with a twist”. Manoj also runs OpenCoffee Manchester, a relaxed version of NW StartUp 2.0 events on every 4th Tuesday of the month, Mashup* Manchester and blogs at Manoj is very much interested in building a portfolio of startups. He is interested in projects where he could add value through leadership, business planning and execution, market entry and channel development.

For a full profile, please visit LinkedIn

Speaker 1 – Billa Bhandari – Akoura Biometrics and GoSecure

Billa Bhandari (Founder, Chairman) of GoSecure and Founder/CEO of Akoura Biometrics has fifteen years experience building business oriented, secure, scaleable and mission-critical trading systems in the banking industry, including Chase, Credit Lyonnais, Putnam Investment and State Street Bank. Before Akoura, Billa founded Parallax Corporation to provide technology-consulting services to clients including GTE, Sun and HP. Billa?s background in Finance and Technology exploited the need for user oriented yet highly secure information solutions. Billa has strong recognition in the International Biometrics and Information Security community and serves on the Technology Board of ID World, Single Working Women?s Affiliate Network, and Locuz, Obvue. Billa has appeared on many industry panels focused on deployment of Biometrics in the Enterprise and brings vision and business development skills to Akoura and GoSecure.

For a full profile, please visit LinkedIn

Speaker 2 – Lee Strafford – Plus.Net

According to Ian Spence, Analyst, Robert W. Baird: ?As CEO at PlusNet, Lee created a unique business in the broadband space – profitable! Under Lee’s stewardship, the company grew from nothing to a £100m company before it was sold to BT last year. In doing so, Lee has many friends in the City. Lee understood from the start that making money in broadband was about low cost of operation and high customer satisfaction and is was these guiding principles never changed regardless of market ups and downs. Lee’s qualities as a business leader are extremely rare. He has the ability to not only have a vision but also understands the busines process required yo make that vision a reality. Furthermore, he sticks to his vision whilst others in the market may lose confidence – ultimately he is proven right. I very much hope to be able to work with Lee again.?

For a full profile, please visit LinkedIn

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