DRAGONS’ Den star Peter Jones was given a rock star’s welcome at the MADE entrepreneurs’ festival in Sheffield - where he urged an audience of youngsters to drop their British reserve and follow their dreams.
The television star and mega-successful businessman received a standing ovation and whoops and whistles as he swept into a packed conference room at the Mercure hotel.
He declared entrepreneurship the new rock and roll - thanks to the glamour of television shows like Dragons’ Den - stated there was ‘no failure, only feedback’ and called for a ‘British Dream’ to rival the ‘go for it’ fearlessness of Americans.
A 300-strong audience, largely of students taking BTECs in enterprise at Peter Jones academies across the country including Sheffield, hung on his every word.
They gave him another noisy ovation as he left, trailing a gaggle of starstruck fans taking pictures with smartphones.
He said his aim was to teach youngsters there was a third option - setting up in business - besides higher education and work.
The tycoon, who employs 1,000 people and owns 25 companies, said: “Anyone who tells you it’s okay to be poor, or not to have material things, or not to own your house - that’s rubbish.
“Life is about striving to have something better than what you started out with.
“When I was a kid, famous was being a footballer or singer. Today entrepreneurship is the new rock and roll.”
He added: “One of the best things is the freedom to make your dreams reality - ultimately it’s more exciting than doing anything I can imagine.”
MADE, which continues today, features top entrepreneurs in talks, panel discussions and question times at venues including The Showroom and the universities.
Other speakers included minister for enterprise Mark Prisk, secretary of state for business Vince Cable, and David Blunkett MP.
Mr Blunkett said he was always told not to let exam success go to his head, but it was time for that attitude to change.
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