Lord Bilimoria pays a visit to Benenden Back to archive
28th March 2017

Cobra Beer founder and entrepreneur Lord Bilimoria returned to Benenden to talk to students and take part in a School version of Dragons’ Den.

Lord Bilimoria initially visited the School last September as part of the Eight Conference. He returned last week to give a lecture on entrepreneurship – talking personally about his experiences.

Before giving his lecture Lord Bilimoria was also on a four person panel judging Sixth Form business ideas in a Dragons’ Den style exercise as part of the School’s Professional Skills Programme.

Girls talk to Dragons Den panel

The event was the culmination of weeks of work, in which the groups had developed business ideas and associated marketing and business strategies.

In the Theatre, teams pitched their ideas to the panel which, aside from Lord Bilimoria, also included the School’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Julian Hall. The experts were judging the quality of the pitch as well as the business idea itself.

Business ideas included bespoke clothing, hair scrunchies and waist beads, and an open-air cinema event. The eventual winner was a series of revision packs written by students for students.

Most of the groups are now looking to continue developing their businesses into viable enterprises. Congratulations to all the girls involved and it is worth noting that Lord Bilimoria said that he was "impressed" by the quality and ingenuity of the ideas - high praise indeed!

Lord Bilimoria speakingA view from a Sixth Former on Lord Bilimoria’s visit

On Friday Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer, returned to Benenden to give a lecture on entrepreneurship.

Being one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, Lord Bilimoria talked to us about how he began his business and his struggles and successes along the way.

He made clear how successful you can become by coming up with a simple idea which no-one else has thought of. His idea was for a less gassy lager, which maintained the refreshment of a lager but with the added smoothness of an ale, which could be enjoyed with all types of cuisine.

He highlighted the importance of integrity, in the sense of “wholeness”, which is one of his and his business’s key principles. Lord Bilimoria also conveyed to us that his strong team, which supported both the brand and him, was crucial for his business to take off.

However, he also touched on his mistakes and the times when he almost lost his business, mostly at the beginning, when it ran out of money. He showed us some of Cobra’s most memorable TV adverts, reminding us that the most expensive campaign is not always the best option, and that telling a story in an advert is key.

In the question and answer session he was happy to speak about the House of Lords and its importance in British politics. It was an inspirational talk, one filled with advice for the budding entrepreneurs of Benenden.

Saskia Geddes
Six One