Venturefest West Midlands is back!

With 100’s of delegates expected to attend this free conference, this is your chance to engage directly with high growth entrepreneurs and service providers offering products, services, advice and support.


The programme features industry leaders delivering insightful, challenging and inspiring keynote and panel discussions. 

These sessions include:

08:45 – Welcome and introduction to the features of the day

08:55 – Keynote 1: Ben Francis, Founder & Chief Executive Officer – the Gymshark Story

  • Ben Francis is the Founder and ambitious entrepreneur behind leading UK fitness brand, Gymshark.
  • Ben founded Gymshark when he was 19 years old, while still a student at Aston University. In addition to his full-time commitment to his studies, Ben juggled working as a pizza delivery man to fund his Gymshark venture.
  • Ben made the decision to step down as CEO in 2017, to allow him to continue to focus on the things that have always set Gymshark apart – innovative design, creative content and consumer first thinking.
  • Gymshark has gone from being an entrepreneurial start-up to becoming a global brand with millions of customers in 170+ countries via its 13 websites. Driving sales by 140% PA to £176.2m in 2019, with operating profits of £18.6m.
  • In August 2020, Gymshark became the first DTC (direct to customer) brand in the UK to achieve Unicorn status with no external capital funding. The recent investment partnership with General Atlantic will see Gymshark become a true global brand.

09:35 (a) – Panel 1: Covid driven Innovation leading to better business long term

09:35 (b) – PitchUp Heat

09:35 (c) – Panel 2: WM Digital Roadmap – creating business opportunity

10:40 (a) – Panel 3: – Opportunities in Green Growth

10:40 (b) – PitchUp Heat

10:40 (c) – Panel 4: Creativity, technology and innovation

11:40 – Networking – Informal discussion rooms. Topics to include:

  • The Grid
  • Start up space – early businesses and support meet
  • Scale-up space – scaling businesses and support meet
  • Challenges – led innovation creating new business opportunities
  • Meet the WMCA (West Midlands Combined Authority) and LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) Innovation boards

12:10 – PitchUp Final

13:15 – Close

Running alongside Venturefest West Midlands for another year will be Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up, a pitching competition for business owners, giving a unique opportunity for businesses to raise their profile both in the West Midlands and in front of a national audience of investors. Business owners are invited to present their ideas in a pitch for investment and stand a chance of winning one of several awards.