Linnworks pushed the boat out for Linn Academy 2019 with a new massively bigger venue, a bigger audience, a bigger production, more partners exhibiting and a conference which sets itself apart as the must attend event for 2020. Just the opening lighting and video display made you feel like the latest Star Wars film was about to premier and everyone at Linnworks can be incredibly proud of the conference they put on.
The venue and attendees
The first thing that was striking was the size of the venue compared to the Vox Birmingham which was Linn Academy’s previous home. The venue was by no means packed to capacity, but with over 1,000 people attending the event (that’s people that turned up on the day, not registrations), Linn Academy was massive compared to previous years. With the number of retailers attending, Linn Academy now represents one of the biggest gatherings of marketplace sellers in the UK which means for marketplaces and suppliers this is a compelling place to meet potential customers. There is no other event on this scale where the majority of attendees are multi-channel marketplace sellers and while we don’t know the total turnover of attendees’ businesses, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was over a billion pounds a year.
The event, hosted by the capable Jeremy Miller, kicked off with former Olympian Matthew Syed of Black Box Thinking. One of the key takeaways from this session was to think about your business advisers – this could be the company board, your top level employees, or the colleagues in the industry you know and rely on for advice. Matthew pointed out that it’s easy to surround yourself with people like yourself but this is a mistake – it’s good to have advisors from different backgrounds, different upbringing and, frankly, people who disagree with you and will challenge your thinking.
Matthew was (rightly) dismissive of diversity targets – he points out that in some jobs it really doesn’t matter what race, religion, sex or sexual orientation someone comes from, but that’s generally what diversity is measured upon. He argues that true diversity is needed at the board and advisory level and people with different ways of thinking or using different prediction models can, when their advice is taken as a whole and averaged, be much more accurate than even the best of solitary advisors.
One of the hottest topics of conversation at Linn Academy 2019 was Amazon Shipping and they didn’t fail to deliver with a large stand and what appeared to be about a dozen reps to handle enquires. We’ll be getting more information on this shortly.
Towards the close of the day, Baroness Karren Brady came onto the Academy Stage to a packed audience and the first news from Karren was naturally the new series of the The Apprentice which kicks off this evening. Expect some fireworks and surprise from the very first episode of the new series and (spoiler alert) an apprentice who doesn’t know the difference between an Elephant and a Rhino!
With decades of experience in the football world, Karren had some interesting lessons to apply to all businesses. Firstly, growing businesses have to make tough decisions from time to time. Karren pointed to the example of the person who may do your accounts as you start out could have been your longest standing and best employee, but when you move from a small start up to a multi-million pound organisation the financial requirements may mean replacing them with a Financial Director who brings a different level of experience. This is a tough call for any business but Karren insists that you have to do right by the business first.
Karren also pointed out that in the world of football you might have someone on £20k a week working the ticket office and someone else of the same age on £20k a week kicking a football around for 90 minutes each weekend. Neither will be able to comprehend the salaries of the other and Karren spoke of having a corporate culture which embraces employees at both ends of the scale, getting the best out of the abilities of both and giving both the ability to meet their full potential and more importantly their level of ambition.
One thing that Karren does is that every new employee from the every lowest level right up to directors spends their first day with her in her office. She wants them to understand the business and their importance to her. She also has lunch once every three months with every member of staff on rotation and expects to listen and be challenged by them. It’s all about her culture of success, so ask yourself if you have ever had lunch on a one to one basis with all of your staff and if not why not?
Alongside the Academy Stage and Spotlight Stage were a ton of side learning experiences in the form of workshops and 1-to-1 sessions with Linnworks staff and of course the exhibition with a raft of suppliers who could help just about every aspect of your business.
Book for Linn Academy 2020 with 70% off
One thing was clear from Linn Academy 2019 and that is that Linnworks have put together one of the strongest communities in the marketplace world. From the first Linn Academy I attended in Reading (not so many years ago!) where there were just 20 people, the company has grown to host Linn Academy 2019 with 1,000 in attendance and it’s expected that Linn Academy 2020 will be even bigger.
If already can’t wait for Linn Academy 2020, for which the provisional date is Tuesday the 22nd of September 2020 you can already book tickets and until the 11th October 2019 you can snag a ticket for a massive 70% off. Super Early Bird Standard tickets can be booked for £30 and Super Early Bird VIP tickets for £150. If you attended Linn Academey 2019 it’s a no-brainer and if you didn’t then book now as prices will never be this low again.