Lizzy Hodcroft, owner of The Sweet Beet
Lizzy Hodcroft, owner of The Sweet Beet
Richard Bell

North East entrepreneurs aim to inspire with stories of professional failures

North East startups gathered in Newcastle on Thursday (August 16) to share stories about their failures – in the hope of informing and inspiring others taking the entrepreneurial path.

The event, held at the home of arts organisation Ampersand Inventions on Pilgrim Street, saw business leaders discuss professional mistakes ranging from deals gone sour to product recalls.

Lizzy Hodcroft, owner of condiment company The Sweet Beet; Newcastle artist Feliks Culpa; and the founder of street fashion brand Tahmina Arts, Tahmina Begum, were among the speakers.

Lizzy said: “I think it’s really costly to dismiss your mistakes in life and in business. If you ignore them, then your dreams may never become a reality. If you get things right the first time, then it’s probably a fluke.

“By messing up on many occasions, it really did make me who I am today. I was always the black sheep in the family and if anything went wrong the finger would often get pointed at me.”

She added: “I took all of those failures to reflect who I was as a person and couldn’t let them go. This led to a really poor self-image of myself which led to depression, anxiety and drug abuse.”

Speaking further, Lizzy said entrepreneurs should “celebrate our mistakes and the journey we’re all on”.

She continued: Sharing failure is sharing vulnerability, and sharing this can make the strongest human and business connections a person can ever make. It’s painful, but it’s crucial.

“Those who learn from failure will succeed. I’ve learned more about myself this way and I know others in Newcastle and the North East can too.”

The evening formed part of a global movement called F*ckup Nights. It launched in the North East in May, as a fringe event at Newcastle Startup Week.

Jonpaul Kirvan, director at Ampersand Inventions, commented: “We physically re-built this old office space at Commercial Union House without any support or funding whatsoever. There was nothing here, but we had a great vision for it.

“My biggest mistake in business life was the inability to say no and I’ve had many moments in life where businesses I’ve been working for have been ripped off and I’ve ended up not getting paid. But here, we have seven floors that are full of amazing and creative businesses and we have given the power back to the people that work here.”

Jonpaul added: “We support them on all levels and they support us – it’s a true collective and we’re proud to be able to host events like this to allow people to grow together.”

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