Stephen Kelly is a distinguished former CEO of Sage (FTSE100), dMicro Focus (FTSE250) and Chordiant (US Nasdaq) growth companies creating approximately $10bn of market value increase. He has built companies from start-up, to scale-up, to multi-billion dollar revenue companies.

Stephen has also held public positions, including Chief Operating Officer, UK Government, Prime Minister's Business Ambassador, and Chair of the Science & Technology Honours Committee. He is an angel investor in over 20 high-growth businesses.

Having started as an executive at Oracle when they had a revenue of $12 million and leaving them nearly a decade later with a revenue of $2 billion, he is well placed to advise on the playbooks for growth, building sustainable global market leaders and building businesses ‘the right way’.

The morning mentoring was with the University’s Alumni-funded Innovation Award winners; Izzie Hurst who founded the clothes swapping app Dopple, Natasha Birk who founded the eco-friendly beauty ranges Laguana Lashes and Beauty Switch, and Erin-Jane (EJ) Roodt who founded EPOWAR, a new smart watch app to revolutionise women’s safety. He worked with them to further develop their business plans to provide a framework for executing their award-backed enterprises. Izzie Hurst says:

It worked really well as Stephen provided mentoring to us as a group, as we are all experiencing similar hurdles as independent businesses, which was followed up with individual and tailored feedback that will help us enormously moving forward.

The afternoon mentoring was with students form the current cohort of the University of Bath’s Entrepreneurship Programme; Jamie Crisp who founded Moored Solutions to modernise how mooring fees are paid and utilised, and Edie (Emily) Clay, who has founded Edie One, a company providing social media marketing for SMEs.

Over lunch Stephen spoke to a packed room of entrepreneurial students, which also took place in the University’s new Enterprise Lab in the East Building, to highlight the challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs. Some takeaway lessons Stephen shared during his talk were:

  • The golden rule of an entrepreneur is to use your network
  • “Make money before you raise money”
  • Your vision should reflect your values and what you care about
  • Use value creation equity that changes peoples’ lives
  • Going to territories and markets overseas faces different challenges. Start with 2 or 3 countries but build up regionally in the UK first.
  • Always look at the user need and user experience. Your customers are part of the company.
  • Everybody should feel secure enough to hire people better than themselves. Not everybody can be the best at everything.
  • Have a strong product market fit
  • Never compromise on quality
  • Build a culture that allows mistakes so you can learn from them
  • “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”
  • Apply the feedback model of asking what worked well?
  • Believe in giving back. It makes everybody richer.

Stephen Rangecroft, Director of External Engagement at the University of Bath says:

The University has a long standing and valued relationship with Stephen Kelly, as an Alumnus, mentor and champion of enterprise. It was great to see the excitement and interest that his visit generated which will hugely benefit our aspiring entrepreneurs in their enterprising endeavours.

The Enterprise Lab, 3.1 in the East Building, is open for entrepreneurial students to meet with their networks and develop their business ideas.