EN meets the co-founder of the Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow, as the show undergoes an interesting evolution.
The key to running a successful event is truly understanding your target audience, and perhaps no one understands their audience better than the women behind Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow.
“The reason I’m so passionate about what I do is that I’m the same as everyone else, I’m not superwoman,” Lindsey Fish tells EN. “I’m experienced in everything that they do, and I think that helps us market to them, attract them and make the event feel good. We can attract our audience so easily; we speak to them the way we would want to be spoken to.”
Mum’s Enterprise Ltd was founded in 2015, but the story arguably started two years earlier when Fish’s first child, Molly, was born. Rather than working for someone else and being away from her daughter for hours every day, Fish decided to utilise her events experience and set up a freelance exhibition company.
Running her own company, and tackling all the challenges that come with that, sparked the idea for Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow – a one-stop-shop for women looking into flexible work, higher education, upskilling, starting their own business and more.
The show has five zones – Boost, Business, Flexible, Opportunity, and Retrain & Upskill – all dedicated to inspiring and informing visitors. It also takes the special needs of its audience into consideration, with soft play areas, nannies and a breastfeeding area all an integral part of the show.
Fish partnered with creative director and friend Lucy Chaplin, and the two women began bringing the vision to life. The first event took place in Hertfordshire in June 2016, attracting almost 200 visitors, while the 2018 Manchester event welcomed more than 3,000. Fish attributes the success of the show in part to the cyclical nature of the event – with mums who have found work through the show often in turn becoming exhibitors.
A commitment to community
Earlier this year, Fish and Chaplin announced that the two-day London event would be postponed for an intriguing reason.
“Lucy and I have decided to transfer all assets and intellectual property to the new not-for-profit community interest company, as we want to lock in the key motivator of the business to be social impact and change rather than profits,” Fish stated in a press release. “We are also implementing new technology, assigning a new board of directors and new processes to meet the changing demands of the business as it has grown from 100 visitors to over 3,000 within three years.
“This all takes time, hence the need to change the London date to ensure we deliver only the very best for all involved.”
The show, says Fish, is a ‘massive social mission’; her and Chaplin haven’t taken a salary for over two years. Changing to a community interest company, she adds: “means that we need to track our social impact a lot better and that we can apply for grants from the government and people like the Big Lottery Fund. If we went to get investment from a shareholder all they’d care about are the numbers, putting the exhibition stand prices up and sponsorship prices but that isn’t why we started the business.
“We started the business to be accessible to a lot of exhibitors that don’t do any other shows. Being a community interest company means that no matter how big this gets the reason for it existing remains the same. We don’t want to lose that essence.”
When it comes to the future, Fish and Chaplin hope to launch smaller, rural ‘boot camp’ events around the UK, along with a digital hub, all with the aim of uniting mums with inspiration and business opportunities. They also intend to produce a report in 2020 quantifying the impact the show has had on the UK economy, placing more women in work and creating more start-up businesses.
As the show continues to evolve and expand, Fish ends our chat with a call out to organisers.
“Contact me, if you’re interested in the work we’re doing,” she says. “What I think we need now is an organiser bigger than us to take us over. We need someone who likes what we’re doing to come on board.”