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Entrepreneur Weekend Seminar - Birmingham - April 2007

The Entrepreneur Weekend was a two day split-subject seminar held in Birmingham on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th of April 2007.

This particular event had one day dedicated to property investment and the second day concentrated on making money via the internet.

What follows is my personal experience of the seminar:


I arrived at the hotel just after 6pm on the Friday night (I always try to arrive a day early) and made my way to the bar to get something to eat. I hoped to bump into some other attendees and perhaps even a few of the speakers.

However, if you've ever been to a seminar or weekend event, you will probably agree with me when I say that it is hard to determine who is at the hotel for the seminar and who is just a normal hotel patron. You could approach random people and ask them if they are attending but get the wrong person and you'll get some very puzzled looks!

I got something to eat and had a couple of drinks, all the time reading a paper so I didn't look out of place. By about 8pm I had all but given up on trying to find anyone else who was attending, no-one stood out as a potential entrepreneur.

Ordering my last drink I settled down at the bar and contemplated an early night. Luckily for me, I spotted two people approaching the bar who looked familiar. A few weeks previously I had read and enjoyed Andy Shaw's book "Money for Nothing and Your Property for Free" so I recognised him from the book's cover as he walked in.

"You're Andy Shaw aren't you?" I asked, shocking him a little.

"Er, yes, that's right.." said Andy

I explained that I had recently read his book and so he and his business partner, Greg, asked if I wanted to join them for a few drinks.

At this point I just want to point out that this is the real benefit of attending seminars - networking and bumping into the speakers at the bar. You end up being able to find out a lot more about them and their particular field of expertise.

I took the opportunity to ask both Andy and Greg loads of questions about their property business and their rapidly expanding internet businesses. I basically got a couple of hours' free advice about how to go about building a property portfolio.

In due time, more speakers and attendees appeared and sat down at our table. We eventually retired somewhere around 1am after several hours of "socialising" (read: drinking).


Registration for the Entrepreneur Weekend was starting early on the Saturday (9am) as Steve Foley, the organiser, had packed in a lot of speakers spread out across the day. With this in mind I got up just before 8 hoping to grab a quick breakfast before finding a good seat in the seminar room.

Again I bumped into Andy Shaw and ended up having breakfast with him and two more of the speakers - Paul Gunter and Andy Shorten.

Both Andy and Paul had attended the previous eConfex seminar in London as delegates and were eventually persuaded to speak at the Entrepreneur Weekend after Steve Foley found out how well they were doing online.

I'm not particularly "over-the-hill" at 28 but these two made me feel pretty old. I think they mentioned that they were both about 25 and neither had ever had much of a regular "9-5". They'd stumbled into a very lucrative field online and were doing very well for themselves. At the seminar they were speaking for the first about what exactly it was they did.

So, before the Entrepreneur Weekend had even started I had a head full of ideas about property investment and new online opportunities simply from sitting with some experts and having a few beers.

Have I mentioned yet how beneficial it is to attend seminars?

Day 1 - Property Investment Day

9am - Andy Shaw and Greg Ballard

Andy and Greg were first up on the Saturday and gave us a little background about themselves and their company, Passive Investments.

Both had run a successful manufacturing business before starting in the property game. The point came where they decided that it would be just as profitable to build a property portfolio and take advantage of the capital gain you receive from holding property long term.

When they sold their company they had over 160 employees and were making a low 6 figure profit. They admit that they were tired of the problems associated with running a typical business with a large staff - so they sold up.

A few years later, Andy and Greg (along with various family members) now have over 200 properties worth around 30 million. No doubt it's quite surprising to learn that they built up this large portfolio without investing any money...

This first session was an introduction to their method of building a portfolio and they were to return in the last session of the day to reveal more about their techniques.

Mid-morning - Steve Gibson

After a brief coffee break everybody got back into the conference room for the second session. This time it was the turn of Steve Gibson, a former marketing director turned overseas property investor.

In truth, I'd never considered investing outside of the UK before. I've seen, as I'm sure you have, the adverts on TV advertising "Polaris World" with the famous golfer but I had never paid much attention.

What I learnt from this session was that there is serious opportunity in Spain, especially from new build and off-plan resorts.

Steve's latest project is a huge development in Murcia in Southern Spain. To say Murcia is huge is an understatement, it's apparently half the size of Wales.

Steve gave us a whole load of advice and guidelines for investing overseas: what to be wary of, what to consider, what to research, typical yields, mortgage requirements, likely profit etc

It was a lot to take in but I made sure to take lots of notes for future reference.

The advice here was to buy early and buy well (the best plots). You tie up some money for a while and then sell a couple of years down the line for a hefty gain. Doing this apparently gives you tax advantages although I won't try to explain them here because I am not a tax advisor.

In short, Steve Gibson's presentation was an eye-opener. It was very interesting to learn more about investing in overseas property and certainly something I will be considering in the next few years.


It was a nice surprise to find that lunch was included in the attendence fee. I took the opportunity to sit with a few other attendees and discuss the morning's presentations.

The overall opinion was very positive. All four of us on my table were complete newcomers to property investing but were very fired up about the possiblities.

Saturday Afternoon - Daniella Batham

Daniella explained that she is a UK based property investor who provides luxury accomodation to professional tenants.

In short, she buys new properties and then lets each house to up to 4 people at a time. This gives her a typical yield of 10%!

Daniella usually finds her tenants by informing local companies about her houses. Large companies who are in her catchment area often have new employees or contract workers who need short term accomodation. Putting them up in well-maintained houses is far cheaper than paying their hotel bills.

Using some examples, Daniella showed how she structures her company so that she pays the very minimum of tax on her letting income. She also explained the methods she uses to get her tenants in and paying rent in the shortest possible time, side-stepping lengthy credit checks and other obstructions.

Where a lot of investors buy smaller houses hoping that their tenants' rent payments will cover the mortgage, Daniella showed how to actually make a profit from the rent as well as from the capital gain from holding the house long term.

The specific way she structured the rental process to minimise tax was very clever...

Steve Foley gave a short presentation outlining the kind of costs you should expect to pay on certain types of refurbs.

Saturday Final Session - Andy Shaw and Greg Ballard

The final session of the "property day" was given by Andy and Greg. This time around they went into a great deal more detail about their particular method of portfolio building.

A very summarised version of their advice was as follows:

:: Buy a property - simply buy an investment property because you learn so much by buying your 1st that it makes it a whole lot easier when it comes to your 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc

:: "Squeeze" the property - buy it below market value and increase the value through simple renovation

:: Become an expert in your chosen region - scan the local paper for 4 weeks and you will get a 'feel' for the area. You'll begin to notice when properties drop in proce, come back on the market etc. This helps immensely when you are trying to buy below market value as it gives you bargaining power.

:: Once you have bought, get a tenant in and remortgage every few years to release money

:: Never sell. Instead, take advantage of capital gain in the value of the property by releasing equity. Ensure that you keep plenty of money in reserve "just in case".

There was much more content than this but the above gives a very basic idea of the strategies.

At the end of their second and final presentation I was expecting a big pitch but they simply said "if you like what you've heard, buy the book for 20"

No big sales pitch, no high-priced mentoring course - they simply offered Andy's book for sale. It was an excellent presentation to finish off what was an extremely interesting and inspiring day.

Saturday Evening - Networking Session

That evening Steve Foley held a networking reception where it was great to see all of the presenters mingling with the attendees.

I had a few drinks with Gary Vurnum, Andy and Greg, plenty of attendees and also Simon Coulson (we had plenty to talk about as we run websites on the same topic).

It was about 2am when I managed to retire. I was exhausted but buzzing with ideas...

Day 2 - Internet Marketing Day

9am - Simon Coulson

Sunday was the internet business day and the one day which I planned on taking the most advantage of.

First up was Simon Coulson - an internet marketer and publisher who has built up a very successful info product business.

His talk was called "The Secrets to Building a Million Pound Business on the Internet".

Simon gave a brief history of his internet career including a summary of the different niches that he has found success in.

He also gave us a load of tips about what to do and what not to do - all based on his successes and failures in the past.

Perhaps the best part of this talk was where he outlined a very simple but potentially profitable idea revolving around Google AdWords. You'll have to either get the DVDs of the event or attend a future event to find out what it is but I thought it was a brilliant plan!

Peter Woodhead

The second session of the day was given by Peter Woodhead who is a public domain specialist.

Peter gave the lowdown on what you can do with public domain material, the pros and cons, how to find material and a whole lot more.

Before this particular presentation I thought that I knew quite a bit about this particular subject but he opened my eyes to several possibilities that I had never considered.

For example: did you know that you can have complete books scanned and delivered as Word documents to you for about 85 per 1,000 pages?

i.e. you could buy a book that you've found in the public domain, send it off to a specialist company and you then get the entire text back ready to publish as your own work.

Or did you know that only one version of the classic book "Think and Grow Rich" is actually in the public domain?

There's a mountain of potential in this subject and I realised after Peter's presentation that I really should get a move on and search out some treasures...


Following Peter were three more presentations - one of which, unfortunately, was a little disappointing and will not be described here. Another was a follow-up session by Simon Coulson and the third was a great presentation by the two domain name experts, Paul and Andy.

To read more about their session and product, see the following blog post:

Could This Be The Next Big Money Maker?

(Page last updated 15th March 2008)

These seminars are highly recommended, I really enjoyed the Birmingham event.

Make sure to check the following website to find out which internet marketing seminars are occurring in the near future:

Internet Marketing Seminars in the UK

Once you first attend an event like this, you will kick yourself for taking so long to get around to doing it!


© Copyright 2005 - 2017 Ben Catt.