Open Forum Events was founded in 2013 by staff made redundant after the closure of another company within the industry. Company directors Daniel Rankine and Alexis May set out with a vision to develop a business that brought new thinking and practical solutions to the market, with a particular emphasis on staging events that help to improve public services.
“We knew we had a great idea,” explains Daniel, “and that we had real experience and knowledge of the industry. What we needed was support building the business and putting in place all those factors that make sure a business runs efficiently - and that’s where the Hub came in.”
The main challenges, explains Daniel, were finding our more about general business management, specifically support around recruiting, managing and training staff.
Daniel and Alexis met up with Hub advisor Isabelle Farquhar who suggested they enrol on one of the Hub’s popular Start Smart workshops, which begins with an honest assessment of the business idea and whether it can form the basis of a successful business. It then goes on to cover areas such as company structure, tax and insurance and different ways to find sources of finance.
They also signed up to a host of training and group coaching courses around leadership and management, sales, social media and customer services, while Isabelle began mentoring the business, too.
“A big part of the way we want to run the business is to involve our staff and make sure they have the skills they need to help the company succeed,” continues Daniel. “What the Hub offers is perfect if you’re starting out on your own. It’s honest, realistic, and also free, which is fantastic when you’re a new business with very little money.”
In less than two years, the company is already posting a profit, doubling its staff to eight full-time employees and hosting over twenty events across the UK for organisations including Capita, NHS England and University of Manchester.
“Working with the Hub means we’re now able to be more focused on our corporate strategy, reinvestment and increasing profit margin,” adds Alexis. “As the number of events we stage increases, so does our revenue and that means we’re able to employ more people.”
“Working with the Hub means we’re now able to be more focused on our corporate strategy, reinvestment and increasing profit margin”