Business Rocks founder says next year will be ‘bigger and better’

THE founder of the Business Rocks festival, which continues today at Manchester Central, has vowed to build on this year’s success with an event that is “bigger and better”.

It was standing room only for those who squeezed into the main auditorium on the first day of the business and technology event to hear Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak speak for an hour on the Apple story, Steve Jobs, corporate culture and artificial intelligence.

Woz was clearly worth the £120,000 TheBusinessDesk understands it cost organisers to bag him as the headline speaker – the buzz from those coming out of the auditorium was clear and Business Rocks founder Jonathon Cadden was on a high.

“It’s been just amazing so far,” Cadden told TheBusinessDesk, adding: “I’m already thinking about next year and how we can grow this and make it even bigger and better.”

He hinted that event sponsor Virgin could be more involved next year, which may lead to the company’s high profile boss Richard Branson making an appearance.

Described as a global tech and investment summit brought to life by music, the event includes more than 100 international speakers sharing their expertise on the industry.

Today’s speakers include Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of and UBID.COM, Digital Jam fouder Tanya Laird and Nick Ferrari of LBC Radio.

Earlier this month, Scott Fletcher MBE, the chairman and founder of cloud and managed services provider ANS, made a six-figure investment in the Business Rocks festival to become a major shareholder.

Yesterday he told TheBusinessDesk: “We have shown we can get world-class speakers to Manchester and the city has shown that it is up for getting out networking in a fun way. Business needs to be fun. It all ties into what Woz was saying about happiness being all about fun, food and friends.

“Fundamentally this is a business and technology conference that brings fun, technology, business and music all together in Manchester.”

On who next year’s headline speaker might be, he said: “Virgin is an excellent sponsor for us and we hope the partnership with them next year will flourish and maybe we can convince Sir Richard Branson himself to get involved.”

Cadden and Fletcher want the festival, which is costing £600,000 to put on, to emulate the success of South by Southwest in Texas or Dublin’s Web Summit.

In addition to high profile speakers, today’s activities will include tech demos, interactive debates, a £50,000 Invov8 Pitch Battle prize, and a live EU Referendum debate where the audience will vote live.

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