One Sunderland Expo: What I Learned

The organisers of the first One Sunderland Expo are delighted after attracting more than 300 visitors to the event.

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My stand at the One Sunderland Expo

A range of exhibitors were on hand to offer guidance and support to start-up, micro and small and medium-sized enterprises in the city and surrounding area.

Talks and seminars took place throughout the day at Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland, although there were some last-minute changes to the bill.

Information stands were manned by the likes of the Federation of Small Business South of Tyne and Wear, the North East Chamber of Commerce and the Sunderland-based North East Business and Innovation Centre.

I spent my time flitting between my stand and the seminars, starting with Sharon MacArthur, a confidence and leadership coach who set up Red Handbag four years ago to help women feel like more confident leaders.

Inspiring speakers

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Sharon MacArthur from Red Handbag

The last time I heard Sharon talk was at last year’s International Women’s Day Conference, also held at Hope Street Xchange, and once again, everything she said struck a chord. These are just some of the notes I took down:

·       Be brave and create your future.

·       Do what you know is right for you.

·       Blow your own trumpet.

·       Learn to say no.

·       Define who you are and what your values are.

The Google Digital Garage workshop I booked onto was delayed due to technical difficulties (oh, the irony) but once it got going it was very interesting.

It covered a range of digital marketing techniques and I came away with some tips for creating a digital marketing plan, which is something I feel I should be concentrating on as my current approach is somewhat ad-hoc!

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The Google Digital Garage seminar

My last session of the day was with Rob Baker from Tailored Thinking, who talked about fixed and growth mindsets and the impact they can have on running a business.

I think I rest somewhere between the two, but it was interesting to hear how big companies like Microsoft and Innocent are embracing mindset training and techniques when it comes to the HR aspect of their ‘growth-mindset’ businesses.

The one piece of advice from Rob I’ll certainly be acting on is to experiment – do something differently and seek feedback.

There are (more than) a few things swimming in my head that I haven’t acted upon yet, so I’m going to engage the growth mindset part of my brain, take a risk and give them a go.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

What next for One Sunderland?

One Sunderland is already working on plans for next year’s event, as well as its annual conference in October. In the meantime, regular monthly meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month, between 4pm and 5.30pm, with a guest speaker, refreshments and Q&A.

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Taking part in a mindset challenge at the One Sunderland Expo

The organisation has big plans to support small businesses in Sunderland and stem failure rates, working with a range of like-minded partners over the next five years.

By converting to a Community Interest Company, it hopes to attract funding for community initiatives, delivering targeted workshops and training to parts of the city that have high unemployment rates and social challenges.

It is already working with eight job centres across Sunderland and the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to encourage the unemployed to start their own business journey, or get back into employment.

Co-founder Mike Dodds said: “We are immensely proud of Sunderland and wanted our city to stand out as a beacon where entrepreneurs can flourish and are nurtured and supported.

“Our aim is to bring businesses into Sunderland to fill as much workspace as possible, bring a buzz to the area and showcase what is available throughout the city.”

For more information visit the One Sunderland website here.

Thanks to event photographer Sue Todd Photography for the kind permission to use her images in this post.




  1. Marion on February 21, 2018 at 10:46 am

    It looks like it was really interesting! I love your notes and will probably put them on my wall, right in front of my eyes to see everyday!! Is there an equivalent of that type of things in Newcastle?

    • Angela Reed on February 21, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      That’s very kind of you Marion. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I think Newcastle Start-Up Week is happening in May if that’s closer to you. I haven’t been before, but it looks good!

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