The newly rebranded YEN Expo conference and exhibition widened its scope to include a focus on creative businesses and careers, while retaining a focus on the city’s regeneration.
Young entrepreneurs were also in the spotlight with a session aimed at flagging up Bradford as a good place for the next generation of business owners to start up and progress.
The panel featured a range of people who have opted for self employment at a young age , including 25 year-old Bradford management consultant Philip Cockayne, Chairman of the Yorkshire Group of Junior Chambers; Online Entrepreneur and Blogger Caroline Towers; Managing Director of Festival Publications Ltd Haigh Simpson; Director and Designer of Foxduo Design Matt Lamont; Founder of PR-led marketing and communications firm MacComms, Ellie MacDonald; and Managing Director of fashion start-up Vanacci James Whitfield.
The discussion was set against the background of Bradford having one of the youngest populations in Europe, with 25% aged under 16, low living costs and easy transport links and a start-up culture which has seen the district become a hotspot for young entrepreneurs.
Ellie MacDonald said: “I was delighted to have been asked to be a panel member at the Young Entrepreneurs expo. I would highly recommend starting up your own business but it is hard and can be lonely at first so it is important to gain as much support and business knowledge as possible.”
YEN Expo, previously the Bradford Business Conference is now in its fifth year. It was again organised by the Yorkshire Enterprise Network, along with partners Bradford College, Bradford Council and Bradford-based Malik House Business Centres.
YEB Expo also featured successful Bradford-born author and entrepreneur A.A.Dhand, who has sold the TV rights of his novel Streets of Darkness, which is set locally.
The author sees Bradford as a city fighting to return to its rightful place as a leading industrial centre and “a true Northern Powerhouse”. Mr Dhand, who also runs a pharmacy business, hosted a business clinic discussing how his home city has inspired his Harry Virdee novels.
He spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing.
He said: “I set my books against Bradford’s struggles with a hint at the way it is changing and the new developments. I feel Bradford is a city trying to get back to its rightful place when it was a leading industrial centre. There is a fair way to go with the infrastructure and so on, but I believe our city has potential to be a Northern Powerhouse. I hope my book and TV series will give Bradford the exposure it deserves, to raise the profile, but also to showcase the city from a different perspective.”
Streets of Darkness has been sold to FilmWave, whose director Paul Trijbits was executive producer for the recent adaptation of J.K.Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for the BBC and HBO.
Mr Dhand offered advice to would be authors on how to get published and chronicled his own ten year journey to success. He also discussed the time management skills needed to meet the commitments faced by the modern-day entrepreneur, explaining how he juggles his writing career with the day-to-day running of his pharmacy business.
Mr Dhand added: “I’m a lifelong Bradfordian and proud of my city. I was delighted to attend the YEN Expo event as I wanted to meet as many people as possible who share those views and want to help drive things forward.
“I’m also keen to encourage the artistic side of our community – such as novel writing, script writing, film and theatre, and make sure we promote the many creative visions of our city.”
The plot of Streets of Darkness features detective Harry Virdee with a murder to solve and includes references to the statue of textile entrepreneur Sir Titus Salt, creator of the model village which is now a world heritage site, and Lister Park in Bradford .
YEN Expo is Bradford’s biggest annual business event attracting about 1,000 delegates from across the county and around 50 exhibition stands from a wide range of Yorkshire businesses.