Last week, we held the first in a series of three events celebrating online retailing, the power of marketplaces and local business connections. At Purecraft Bar & Kitchen, Birmingham, we hosted both aspiring online marketplace sellers as well as seasoned veterans and representatives of local business associations and service providers. Here’s what we learned from our get together.

The West Midlands exports more online than Scotland and Wales put together

According to our research, the West Midlands is responsible for 7% of the UK’s online exports and is truly one of the UK’s industrial powerhouses. The history of Birmingham’s manufacturing, wholesaling and international trading sectors runs deep. From Cadbury chocolate to Bird’s custard powder to the world’s first man-made plastics, Birmingham and the surrounding area has always been an area of industry, technology and savvy business – and that’s not changing any time soon.

Keeping your business agile can keep you ahead of the competition

One of the guest speakers at our Online Seller Cellar was Jason Jones of Access Self Storage, who talked us through the advantages of keeping your business (be it large or small) agile, fast-moving and quick to grasp opportunities as and when they appear. Jason highlighted the repetitive nature of business cycles, showing how quick-witted, nimble businesses are often the ones that prove most successful in the long-term.

Scaling your business responsibly can be key to long-term success

Our local hero at last week’s event was Jonathan Quinn, founder and MD of Geckota Watches in Tewkesbury. Jonathan left a reliable, solid job in software development to launch his own brand and grow Geckota beyond online marketplace sales. One thing that struck me about Jonathan’s story was just how quickly the brand has grown, expanded and evolved to meet the demands of their customers. From selling replacement watch straps in his spare time solely through online marketplaces to launching original timepieces and selling internationally through their own web store, it’s a very impressive journey that’s taken place over just seven years. Scaling the company effectively, efficiently and responsibly has been one of the key drivers of Geckota’s success.

We’re in London next, taking over The Yorkshire Grey in Holborn on October 10th and in Newcastle the week after at The Biscuit Factory on October 18th.

Hope to see you there.