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MIT entrepreneur meets enterprising businesses and students in Fort William

01 September 2010

An entrepreneur from one of America's top business schools has been in Fort William to meet with 20 local businesses and a group of enterprise pupils from Lochaber High School.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) set up the workshop session with Bill Aulet, from the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Entrepreneurship Centre, to explore what makes a great entrepreneur.

Bill Aulet is a highly successful business leader with over 25 years of experience in all areas of high technology business operations and financing strategies, from start-ups to public companies.

Businesses at the event came from a variety of sectors including tourism, food and drink and energy. The session looked at what makes a great entrepreneur.

Bill said: "It is clear there are many exciting opportunities for Scottish entrepreneurs for markets that go beyond the Highlands and Islands, Scotland and even the UK. It's good to see the Scottish entrepreneurial spirit looking to bigger markets and aiming high.

"The ingenuity, creativity and Scottish work ethic can be applied to a wide variety of opportunities in all of Scotland's key sectors to accelerate growth of existing Highlands and Islands businesses and create great new businesses in the region."

Director of Glencoe Mountain resort, Andy Meldrum, was at the event. He commented: "There is a great deal of difference between running a business and being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are out there trying to stretch the boundaries of what they do, looking at new markets, constantly trying to identify their customers and meet their needs. This is a way of working which we at Glencoe Mountain Resort embrace and this was an interesting session in encouraging everyone to think about how to tackle the challenges we all face and yet still drive things forward."

The Ski Centre was also one of a number of businesses which had individual sessions with Mr Aulet looking at key aspects of their own growth.

"It was great to hear that we are on the correct track and doing a lot of things right. We have a great team at the centre and are determined to build on and develop all the opportunities we see. In the individual session we spent some time looking at how and who we should be targeting as our key customer," said Andy.

Seven students from Lochaber High, who have been studying enterprise at school, came along for the session at the Alexandra Hotel. They are currently setting up their own business as part of the Young Enterprise programme, and this event helped them develop their ideas for their business.

David Oxley of HIE said: "HIE is delighted to have brought a specialist with such vast knowledge of latest technological research and business strategy to Fort William. The session was very practical in looking at entrepreneurs can make a success of their business in a rural environment such as Lochaber."

"We were also particularly pleased to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs by inviting the students from Lochaber High. Finding opportunities to keep talented young people living and working in the area is an important part of HIE's work, and we hope that by inspiring them they will see what is possible on their own doorstep."


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