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Pamela Cook

The youngest of six children, Pamela Cook was born in a Birmingham slum with no electricity or indoor sanitation. But the family was re-housed when she was three and she describes her childhood as very happy.

Her lack of enjoyment at school and the need to earn money from her early teens, gave her an understanding of the working world and a will to survive. But she also inherited her parents’ strong sense of moral ethics, making her determined to try to do good in the world.

Pamela has achieved that goal as CEO of Infoshare, a data technology company which creates accurate single views, for example, of people, places, addresses and objects. When she took the helm in 2010 she re-mortgaged her house to fund a major company restructure. Since then, she has tried to re-shape the business to use its technology and position to benefit vulnerable people, from children at risk and victims of crime to those likely to be most badly affected by Covid-19.

“What I have discovered is being able to make a real impact on people’s lives,” she says, whether they are at risk, need early intervention or are trying to disguise their true identities.

Pamela is also a magistrate in Thames Valley, and sits on the Cabinet Office SME Panel, fighting for the rights and fair treatment of small businesses in the UK. She is a popular speaker on successful information sharing, protecting citizens and the implication of legislation on data sharing and analysis.

She was named the Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2019 Enterprise Awards, and listed on the 2020 DataIQ 100 people in data, and on the 2020 Global Top 100 Data Visionaries.

A man with grey hair smiling. He is wearing a blue polo shirt.

Jeremy Brassington

The early experience of rejection gave Jeremy Brassington a drive which led through impressive exam results to studying chemistry at Oxford. Despite a well-received thesis on blood proteins, he found academic research unappealing, and instead qualified as an accountant.   Describing auditing as “the dullest subject on earth” he turned to banking, eventually focusing on tech venture funding and turning around failing businesses such as Oxford Molecular. “It taught me how not to run a business,” he says.

In 2003, Jeremy moved into Assistive Technology, redesigning an assistive listening device for the hard of hearing. Having had learning difficulties himself, he realised could help students with dyslexia, language problems and other disabilities.  “It was the first time I had run a business that was doing good,” he says. He managed it for the next 15 years, launching in 30 markets worldwide.

In 2019, Jeremy founded Habitat Learn, an Edtech group which combines automated note-taking and transcription with a smartphone app that helps disabled students take notes in lectures and is now pioneering digital education for all students. He hopes it will become a unicorn.

Andy Phillipps

Andy Phillipps was co-founder of Active Hotels in 1999, a start-up which became the largest online booking company in Europe.  Since then, he has become an angel investor, with many successful ventures and exits and has taught at Insead, the London Business School and Stanford.

Originally a material scientist with a PhD, and evidently formidably bright, Andy shares insights in a modest and charming style, addressing how to select investment opportunities, what CEO’s need from their angels and the difference between making decisions in science and business.

Paul Excell

Paul Excell’s first job was working in his family’s village shop; he has gone on to become an entrepreneur, investor, NED, executive coach and eminent figure in the telecommunications industry. His father taught him crucial business lessons, such as having empathy with customers, being curious about their needs and understanding how you can help them rather than focusing on selling.

State educated, Paul gained much of his drive and inspiration from “fantastic” teachers in topics ranging from maths, physics and computer science to history. People who bridge the science / arts divide will be increasingly important as technology develops, he says.

Following BT sponsorship through university, Paul became an apprentice technician and rose steadily eventually to become a pioneering Chief Customer Innovation Officer, Group Technology Officer and SVP Global Services. While at BT he fulfilled his passion for innovation, launching internet, broadband, mobile and media services and serving on several of the group’s global boards. ”If you don’t innovate, you die,” he says.

After leaving BT in 2012, Paul founded Excelerate, which provides agile executive services focused on transforming leadership and team performance. In 2016 he established ScaleUp Group, which aims to support the many smaller UK companies which he says have potential for “massive impact” and growth. So far it has raised more than £30m and generated some £4bn in enterprise value.

Richard Little

Richard Little is a serial angel investor who learned to be an entrepreneur by watching his father and trained for a life in technology by studying languages.  Richard built and successfully exited his own business in the 1980’s and 90’s, applying cheaper new technology in financial services.  His first big idea failed but the second one worked, and he says that is not a bad formula for building a business.

In the 21st century he has turned his hand to helping others’ companies grow by leveraging investment with his acquired expertise.  Richard believes that helping small companies grow is good for the economy and society, as well as being a rewarding occupation.  His current portfolio includes Cloud, AI and EdTech.