FreshMinds co-founder Caroline Plumb was the star of the show, and gave a well-received speech about treading the rocky road to success. Highlights included receiving advice from old beardy himself, Richard Branson, meetings at Number 10 and her work as a UK business ambassador. Despite admitting that she faced two pretty serious problems when she and her partner Charlie Osmond started the business - 'We didn't know anything and We didn't know anyone' - their hard work and entrepreneurial skills have clearly paid off: FreshMinds continues to go great guns, now employing around 120 people. Not bad going, we're sure you'll agree.
Plumb is one of the youngest women ever to have made our annual ‘35 Women Under 35’ list (she was on the list in 2003 aged just 24). Back then, she says, she shied away from the spotlight and was intimidated by the thought of going to events and schmoozing. But its importance soon became crystal clear: ‘Not knowing anyone was a real barrier. When I started out I hugely underestimated the role of networking in business.’ Luckily for the fairer sex, meeting people generally comes pretty easily, she thinks: 'Women are naturally good networkers.'
More than 50 women turned up to put that theory to the test at the Covent Garden Hotel. Guests included 35u35 alumni Sam Mangwana and Alix Pryde, and last year's cover stars Alexia Inge, Jo Verdult and Isabel Garvey. Flying the flag for everything from engineering and economics to media and fashion, the guests proved there are high-flying females in all sorts of sectors. (As if we didn't know that already.)
Plumb closed her speech last night by saying that people starting their own firms shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, since all good entrepreneurs make mistakes. In fact, it's a crucial part of the process, she says: 'If you’re not making mistakes then you’re not taking any risks - and if you're not taking any risks you're not going to get to where you want to be.’
Click here to see some of the pictures
The deadline for nominations for this year's list is fast approaching, so you'd better get your skates on if there's somebody you'd like to nominate. Just send an email to Hannah Prevett before next Tuesday 19th April including a biog, an outline of job responsibilities and an explanation of why you think that the person merits nomination.