Mindset, risk and ambition: Meet Kristina Pereckaite - Part two

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Chamber Vice-President Jill Woolf recently interviewed Summit workshop leader Kristina Pereckaite, who is the vibrant, delightful and charismatic Entrepreneur Development Manager at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator hub in Brighton. You can check out part one here, or continue reading to hear about Kristina’s talk at Brighton Summit and much more. 

Jill: Tell me about the workshop you’ll be giving at Brighton Summit. Who should go and what will they get out of it?
Kristina: It’s all about building an excellent pitch to have in your repertoire that you can use whenever you meet anyone, no matter whether they’re a client, an investor or someone who might be useful to build a relationship with. Whether you’re a business owner or you work in the corporate world, it’s important to have a confident pitch that’s clear and concise.

That’s what I’ll be talking about – how to structure your pitch; how to deliver it well and how to make sure it’s memorable and evokes action.

Jill: What is your overall opinion of the Summit from your visit last year?
Kristina: To sum it up in one word, I would say it was very vibrant. There was so much going on, which I loved, and it was all very different – just exactly what you’d expect from the Brighton Chamber because they’re so unique to other chamber organisations. You’re not going in expecting the usual expo with a couple of talks. I’d describe it as colourful. I met so many interesting people, and the food was delicious!

Jill: Did you take stuff away which you were able to implement back at the ranch or was there anything you can pinpoint that was so useful you’re still using it?
Definitely. I went to one of the workshops which was about leadership and the most successful traits in good leaders. The facilitator asked us to think about our strengths and weaknesses then get around a table and discuss them. It was a brilliant practical self-awareness exercise. I also went to a great Bird & Blend tea tasting session and I made my own tea, so I took that away too – literally! That’s a real example of the diversity of what’s on offer at the Summit.

Jill: On the basis that no day is going to be the same as the next at the Entrepreneur Accelerator, give our readers a clue as to an ‘average’ day.
Kristina: My day usually involves chatting to a lot of different people, from entrepreneurs, mentors, investors or people within the bank. Events (attending and running them) are usually part of my week. My mind will always be buzzing with what connections I can make or session we can plan to support the businesses in the hub. And, of course, a lot of admin comes with the job – plenty of planning and strategizing about how we’re going to make the next intake at the Accelerator the best one yet, which I love because I love planning!

My favourite part is sitting down with the entrepreneurs or mentors and talking about how we can make Brighton a better place for start-ups and how can we help make a particular business grow.

Jill: I know you visited Israel earlier in the year for the Accelerator. What did you learn and in what ways is the business landscape there different or similar to ours?
One of the really interesting things we learnt is about business success rates. In Brighton and the UK, the business fail rate is 85%. At the Accelerator, our success rate is 80% which is brilliant as we have managed to flip that on it’s head. Israel is an amazing tech hub with so much of the innovation style we see today in our city, but start-ups have a 96% fail rate. This was extremely surprising to me, but when I discussed it with an Israeli founder he explained to me that it’s actually a positive thing.

It’s because there are so many entrepreneurs trying out new ideas which are innovative and unique that not all of them work, but they have this real drive for just testing and they’re not at all afraid of failure. It’s written into their culture that you need to keep failing in order to succeed. They fail a lot but because of that but then they come up with amazing ideas that are successful on a huge scale. It was so interesting and changed my perception of the fail rate that we always judge and talk about here.

Israeli founders also come across extremely confident, they call it ‘chutzpah’, which seems to be an important ingredient in their success.

Jill: When you consider all the business owners/entrepreneurs who have been on programmes within the hub, are there any unusual trends you’ve spotted which you didn’t expect?
I cannot think of anything particularly unusual. It seems entrepreneurship does not discriminate, everyone in the hub is so different and from a variety of backgrounds so perhaps this is why. We have however noticed that those who start with a co-founder will do significantly better than those who start alone.

Jill: Is that because the burden can be spread, there’s just more people to ‘do’, or is there any other reason?
I think the biggest reason is accountability. If you’re running your own business, it’s all on you, it’s your livelihood but sometimes that’s not enough for people. If you’re working with someone else, you’re each accountable for each other’s success and it gives you that added push of “Right, we need to make this work” or “We need to get these clients by the end of the day otherwise we both don’t pay the bills” and there’s more drive.

Jill: What does the Chamber bring to the Entrepreneur Accelerator offering as a Community Partner?
Kristina: Two key things: one is that they know Brighton inside and out and they know everybody in the city so it’s just so useful for our businesses, they’re the know-it-alls of Brighton and it’s so brilliant to have them here in the hub.

The other thing is just having their team in the hub. They’re like their own little community as a team and they really support with getting people engaged with the workshops, activities and events, and they’re like an extension of our team really, which for us is invaluable.

Jill: Back to you then. What is your long-term life goal or goals?
My big hairy scary dream is to give a TED talk one day. I also see myself running my own business in the future. In the meantime, I’m just so passionate about helping others and I’m learning so much about the start-up world. At first it was learning for myself but I’ve collected all this data on entrepreneurship that we’ve been talking about today, like the traits of successful business owners, and it’s so useful to be able to share this knowledge to help others.

The other thing I’m really passionate about is Brighton and developing the city’s start-up ecosystem – so if you’re reading this and you want to get involved then get in touch and let’s chat!

Thanks Kristina! 

Jill Woolf is Managing Director of leading PR and marketing consultancy Chimera Communications and a mentor at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator as well as at the Business Schools at the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton

If you’re interested in finding out more about the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator, visit www.natwest.com/accelerator or email Kristina on kristina.pereckaite@NatWest.com

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