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Find out all about the first day of the Chivas Venture Accelerator Programme.

8.45am…and we’re off!
After an evening of introductions and cocktail making, the 27 finalists were up and out bright and early to negotiate the infamous stairs of Christ Church College, Oxford University for a group photo.

Despite the decidedly fresh and supposedly spring weather, our finalists managed to maintain their smiles convincingly making it a wrap in record time.

10.15am Saïd Business School
Taking in the sights of Oxford on route, a quick march brings us to Saïd Business School where we’ll be spending the rest of the day. After a quick refueling of coffee and pastries, we make our way to the Rhodes Trust Lecture Theatre for our first session of the day.

11am The Venture Evaluation Matrix
Starting with an ice-breaking partner task, Professor Thomas Hellman introduces the Venture Evaluation Matrix in an engaging, fast-paced session. Hellman is the Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Saïd Business School and developed the Matrix himself.

Prof Thomas Hellman
The session focusses on the individual entrepreneur, pushing the finalists to look at how their ‘story’ is perceived by others. Pairing off, Professor Hellman tasks the group with pitching their partner’s business in terms of team, network and leadership with some great results.

Professor Hellman wraps up the morning by impressing the importance of ‘pitching your company through your story’ to the group.

1pm…Smile (again)!
Before lunch the finalists pause for the second group photoshoot of the day, but this time in the warmth and comfort of the Saïd Business School. Dazzling with their now refined business leader poses, the group head for a well-deserved lunch.

2.30pm The Landscape of Social Finance
Back in the Rhodes Trust Lecture Theatre, Aunnie Patton Power combats the post-lunch food coma with an enthralling talk around alternative methods of social funding. Talking the group through 10 innovative financing solutions, Aunnie addresses the specific funding issues the individual finalists face with their businesses and looks at how the solutions could be applied to each. The real-life case studies and examples Aunnie highlights helps bring to life the solutions for the group and encourages more in-depth discussions around how it could work for them.


5pm The Art of Storytelling

The second session of the afternoon is a lively and interactive session from Simon Bucknall focussing on public speaking for pitches. Through a series of interactive activities with the group, Simon delivers some memorable tips and invaluable insights into storytelling. Rousing the audience and bringing them together, he has them on stage playing the word association game as well as a storytelling game. In the process, he gets the group to think about their audience, their stance when speaking, the situation their describing and how to use dialogue when telling their business story.

6.45pm…And we’re live!
For our final session of the day, serial entrepreneur and influencer, Dave Erasmus, quizzes Tim Westwell for his live stream on Facebook. Tim is the co-founder of Pukka Herbs, the organic and ethically traded herbal tea brand which have recently been acquired by Unilever.


The session starts with a talk from Tim on the Pukka story and how they got to where they are now. On the Unilever acquisition he comments that, ‘people might say we’ve sold out, but we’ve actually sold in. We call it ‘unileverage’.’

Followed by some probing questions from Dave and the audience, it made for an inspiring lecture for our finalists and at home audience with lots of invaluable takeaways.

Here’s Tim’s top tips for social businesses:

Focus on what you’re good at.Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.Trust in yourself and your own instinct.Think about your journey and ensure your business reflects where you are.

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