After 23 years in business, a Dragons’ Den entrepreneur is taking the time to pay it forwards and inspire the next generation. With a Den inspired workshop, the students at the annualImpact Summit, led by the team at the Warwick Entrepreneurs Society, got a taster of what it means to run their own business.
Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools, was invited to Warwick University to attend the event and speak to business students from several universities including Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, KCL, LSE, ICL, UCL and more about her journey, including being one of the top five most successful businesses from BBC’s Dragons’ Den.
Warwick Entrepreneurs are the largest entrepreneurial society at the University of Warwick, a university at the forefront of innovation and creativity. The team provide students with the tools and expertise required to inspire them, develop their business intuition and support their entrepreneurial initiatives.
The theme this year was “Venture into the Unknown”, in honour of entrepreneurs who have done things a little differently. Denise shared her story and how she began, which like many other successful entrepreneurs, was a little unconventional. “When you consider my background and the route I took, it seems highly unlikely that I would be in my current position,” says Denise. “I had lots of love and support but financially we struggled. My parents couldn’t offer me any financial or practical help so everything that I have achieved, I’ve done it from scratch, so I understand what is needed to be an entrepreneur. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to success, and this is what I want to inspire the next generation with.”
Razzamataz is a growing network of 60 schools with more opening every term. Denise chose to scale her business via franchising and is committed to showing others how this route offers opportunities for those looking for growth.
“I’m proud to be representing the franchising industry,” says Denise. “We have many young entrepreneurs who are franchise partners and I love being able to support them on their journey. What is exciting about the Razzamataz franchise model is that people can open their own theatre school under our brand even if they have no previous experience because we train, support and mentor them throughout.”
During the session, the students got the opportunity to test out their entrepreneurial skills with Denise leading a workshop on how to pitch to investors and what is needed to scale a business. The students presented their ideas to Denise and the panel and got valuable insights that they can apply to their studies and future careers.
“The workshop allowed my colleagues and me to identify a strategy to create a pitch in a limited time,” says Oscar Wainwright, student at Warwick Business School. “Following the delivery of information by Denise, I considered the necessity of working with my team members and delivering a product pitch to an audience while also considering potential expansion based on the necessary research. The experience allowed me to consider the necessity of working as an entrepreneur with a team and how to value a business based on the necessary research. During the workshop, I ensured the team cooperated coherently to utilise my leadership skills.”
According to the organiser Surma Saif from Warwick Entrepreneurs, during the networking on both days, the workshop was repeatedly mentioned as a highlight of the weekend. Surma says: “We were lucky enough to host Denise at our Impact Summit 2023 to run a workshop for our students talking everything pitching, investments, and franchising – the session was highly engaging and thought-provoking, providing real insights into how to conduct a pitch and the franchising opportunities for independent businesses. She was eager to answer our questions and it was clear that she genuinely wanted to help and make an impact.”