First festival of its kind, Wickham's Ideas Fest, makes its debut with talks from Gareth Thomas, founder of Calm and Dragon's Den star Steven Bartlett

THOUSANDS of visitors are set to pack out the first festival of its kind with talks from top business leaders and television personalities.

By Hollie Busby
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:55 am

Ideas Fest, which collaborates with founders of Wickham Festival, will see more than 2,000 people attend its Wickham site to take part in workshops, hear from industry leaders and network with an entrepreneur community for the first time.

The two-day festival, which began today and continues tomorrow , will provide a ‘gap in the market’ to allow professionals to meet in a different light.

Speakers taking to the stage include Dragon’s Den star and host of The Diary of a CEO, Steven Bartlett, founder of Calm, the top rated meditation app, Michael Acton Smith and rugby legend Gareth Thomas across three festival tents.

Launch of Ideas Fest at Wickham on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 Pictured:Fee Teng Liew, Aleis Andra Deryla, Phoebe Walsh Picture: Habibur Rahman

Author and journalist, Jamie Bartlett, disability activist, Sophie Morgan, author and entrepreneur Brad Burton and the founders of sustainable clothing brand, Lucy & Yak are also among the event’s speakers.

Public speaking workshops, yoga classes, a pitching competition and a latte art challenge will also take place with representatives from TikTok hosting a cheesecake making session.

Founder, Francesca James, from Cardiff founded Ideas Fest less that five months ago.

Launch of Ideas Fest at Wickham on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 Pictured:Michael Acton Smith of Calm App Picture: Habibur Rahman

She was inspired to pursue an event for the business community away from the confines of a conference hall.

Francesca, who also runs the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: ‘The majority of people coming are entrepreneurs, founders, and creators.

‘It's getting to know people in a more relaxed environment. In wellies and festival gear, rather than conference wear.

‘We collaborated with the founders of Wickham Festival and thought, “why don't we use the same infrastructure so that we're being more sustainable?”.

‘They know how to run festivals, we know how to bring business audiences together.’

Talks taking places across the two days cover inclusivity in the workplace, sustainability, responsible business, diversity, inclusion, and representation in the corporate environment.

One of the speakers, Christopher Kenna, will run the Brand Advance stage.

Having founded his own media and advertising company, Brand Advance, four years ago, he hopes to bring together speakers from different minority communities so they can be heard.

Fee-Teng Liew, from Milton Keynes, visited the festival through her employer, a mental health start-up called Hashtag Me.

She said: ‘It's so interesting, the idea of business meeting a festival.

‘I saw the line-up and there was so many good speakers and great workshops as well so I thought it would be such a nice idea to get involved in.’

The owner of Mystery Guides, Jack Wells, who won the best start up in The News Business Awards added: ‘It’s really important to meet other people like me who are sharing solutions. I mostly work on my own so talking to other people in the same situation means you can learn so much.’

Michael Acton Smith told the story of the launch of the Calm app at the Conversations That Matter stage which now boasts 100m user downloads.

He said: ‘We’re helping people learn about mental health and inspiring start-ups and entrepreneurs. I love festivals so mixing business with music and camping and colour and all the creativity of a festival is a fantastic idea.’

The festival will be open from 9am until 10:30pm today, and 9am until 4pm tomorrow.