BUSINESSPEOPLE from across the county have gathered to hear a Rastafarian entrepreneur speak.
Levi Roots, whose break came when he won investment on the TV show Dragons’ Den, addressed more than 100 people at a Solent Business Growth Summit at the Hilton Ageas Bowl, near Southampton.
Mr Roots, 56, told the audience to focus on brand as a way of growing a business.
He said: ‘It is all about the brand.
‘Make your brand a part of you. It has to become an extension of who you are. Build your powerful brand and you can sustain growth.
‘I wanted my brand to be me, a Brixtonian Rastafarian with three-foot dreadlocks, songs and food – and it has all sprung from there.’
Mr Roots is most famous for his Reggae Reggae brand of Caribbean cooking sauce, which he built up after getting £50,000 sponsorship from Dragons’ Den millionaires in 2007.
He has since appeared on cooking TV shows, has published cookbooks and opened a Caribbean restaurant in London.
Mr Roots also spoke about how success on Dragons’ Den had changed his life.
‘At the time I was still producing it in the kitchen, making 65 bottles at a time with my kids to my secret recipe so it was a steep learning curve.’
Solent Local Enterprise Partnership board member Jan Ward also spokes at the summit.
Mr Ward gave an overview of region trading conditions and stressed the importance of hiring good staff.
Santander bank’s Portsmouth office team leader and relationship director Andy Wright said: ‘It is an excellent event with a great audience, the basis of which was our two fantastic speakers who both had incredible journeys to talk about.
‘They have done things in hugely different ways, but the results are very similar.’
The summit was hosted by commercial property firm Hughes Ellard, Santander, south coast law firm Trethowans and accountancy and investment management group Smith & Williamson.