Entrepreneurs Without Borders

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I am a proud European, and I relish international encounters, so when the opportunity came up to take part in the Startup Cruise (Newhaven-Dieppe), I didn’t hesitate in booking my seat.

Organised by Graham Precey and Mark Beaumont, Co-Founders of Newhaven Regeneration Group, in partnership with Normandy Ecospace, on Thursday, 4 April 2019, I found myself with 40 other UK-based entrepreneurs on board the DFDS ferry ‘Seven Sisters’ – exploring the innovation and growth potential of my social enterprise, The Thrive Effect.

The outward journey from Newhaven to Dieppe was expertly facilitated by Paul Levy, during which Paul encouraged us to ‘be adventurous’, to ‘move away from safe harbour’ (as Newhaven disappeared over the horizon!), and reminded us that ‘in order to do differently, we must think differently’.

I had one particular business challenge to solve, and thanks to the diverse range of business brains on board (including coffee importers, documentary makers, digital marketers, public speaking coaches, crowdfunding experts and Amazon private label sellers – to name but a few), my fellow adventurers enabled me to find a practical solution for which I am eternally grateful.

Once we had arrived in Dieppe, we were swiftly escorted to Dieppe’s Tourism Office (which, as far as Tourism Offices go, was particularly lush, overlooking the Dieppe harbour). There, we were met by 120 French entrepreneurs. The cider from Normandy, along with the stunning French patisserie, ensured that the networking between the English and French entrepreneurs ran smoothly, and suitably marked the half-way point of the Startup Cruise. Afterwards, we returned to the ferry for the return trip to Newhaven. Over the next four hours, we shared information about our businesses with the French entrepreneurs, and listened to a series of pitches to learn more about each other’s ventures. We were also invited to participate in some entrepreneur-led workshops – a fantastic opportunity to boost essential business skills.

I arrived back in Newhaven feeling very inspired, positive about the future of The Thrive Effect, and armed with new contacts – both from Sussex and Normandy. In my eyes, the Newhaven Regeneration Group’s first Startup Cruise was a success.

I wouldn’t hesitate in going again, and I would encourage more Sussex-based businesses to join me.

We have a gateway to France, and the rest of Europe, right on our doorstep. We must take advantage of it. In the current political, economic and social climate, it is important to look upwards and outwards – beyond borders. The Newhaven-Dieppe crossing is one channel (no pun intended!) through which we can look beyond the UK to grow our businesses and develop a global mindset. I hope to see you on board next time.

A BIG THANK YOU to Graham Precey, Mark Beaumont, Paul Levy and the Normandy EcoSpace team for the opportunity to take part in their first Startup Cruise! I must also thank the ship’s Purser who kindly allowed us to visit the bridge!