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Leaving her job at Accenture for the uncertainty of a startup, Alex and her friend Jules started Hassle.com. The pair got through the challenges, the mistakes, and the lack of investment to build a company that sold for over £20million. They’ve repeated the process with Resi, a disruptive architecture and planning business that is now a market-leader. Alex looks at the lessons she's learned, from startup mindsets to the future of the workplace, the pressures on leaders to balancing culture and growth (including a dramatic increase in Resi's business during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Having run a range of digital and internet businesses in the US, Margaret has turned to analysing where leadership in organisations so often goes wrong. Ignoring potential problems, failing to encourage or develop talent, building a culture of isolation and internal competition; all are commonplace issues that could easily be addressed. As in her bestseller Wilful Blindness and her acclaimed TED speeches, Margaret simply and effectively considers what makes a great leader.

After giving up a career in law to pursue a dream of running her own business, Priya built and sold a successful food brand. She then established a social enterprise before starting a tech company that brings together AI and education in order to understand how students learn and provide educators with an insight into how to create personalised education. She tackles themes including what innovation means and how to embed it into a culture, how leaders need to be adaptable especially in times of crisis, and why keeping values at the core of what you do is the best strategy for success.

Joining Netflix in its very early days, Mitch was responsible for the company’s business development strategy and witnessed the startling growth of one of the internet’s first industry disruptors. He considers how consumers react to being offered a vast array of choices and the opportunities for businesses that this presents. He also urges those seeking to innovate or differentiate themselves to simplify and focus on their core aims.

When Marc’s marketing company was taken over, he met Reed Hasting in the new company. The pair car-pooled and chatted over new business ideas. At the same time, the DVD was coming to market and they realised the potential for a mail-order business. Netflix grew rapidly, and with the advent of broadband and the move to streaming changed into one of the most admired, pioneering businesses in the world. Marc, Nexflix’s first CEO, recounts the story.

Kickstarter has become synonymous with crowdfunding; enabling ordinary people to fund creative projects they care about. As well as disrupting a range of industries, Kickstarter is also a model of how to combine business with social responsibility. Yancey speaks about lessons from taking Kickstarter from idea to a global, game-changing company. He explains his four lessons for leading an innovative, disruptive organisation, and takes a determinedly optimistic view of the the commercial, social and political effects of the tech sector and business more broadly.

Starting his web design business aged just 11, Ben was running a company by the time he was studying for his GCSEs. Before he was 18 he was running a fully fledged online, branding and social media consultancy and was feted as the future of British business. Having exited his first business and started his next, he provide insights in to the social media landscape (he’s roughly the same age as Google) and the future of business. He considers what’s new and what challenges businesses are going to have to face from disruptive competition to employee wellbeing.

With notonthehighstreet.com Holly and Sophie Cornish helped reinvent how small businesses operate online, offering them a platform as well as marketing and business support. Holly has gone on to be the government’s Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses and to found a new company helping startups. She considers both the world of online retail and entrepreneurship, but also the new workplace where companies foster personal as well as professional priorities.

After working on a range of early AI applications, William founded True Knowledge, a company focused on creating practical applications for AI systems. The company became Evi, created a popular and truly pioneering voice assistant app, and was bought by Amazon to provide much of the AI for their Alexa home assistant device. As well as explaining just what AI is, how it works and its prospects, William considers how it can change the world, its capabilities and practical applications.

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