An evening on

Beta Businesses

We’ll be talking about the business you’d build if you started from scratch

We call them Beta Businesses – spin-off organisations that learn and grow faster than the competition.

Incumbents are spending millions (or even billions) on transformation, but the return on investment isn’t always clear.

It’s time to put another horse in the race. New goals, new ways of working – no more ‘this is how we’ve always done it’.

Some key takeaways you can expect from the night:

  • Why digital transformations aren’t enough to keep large organisations ahead of their small and nimble competitors and how spin-outs can offer a blank canvas to adopt an entirely different business model

  • How you can create the environment to increase your rate of experimentation to learn faster than your competitors

  • The big mistake that new ventures make and how to avoid it

  • What it takes to create a winning culture, attract world class talent and build top teams to drive growth and innovation at your company


  • Costas Markides

    Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School

    Professor Costas Markides is recognised as one of the world’s foremost experts on strategy and innovation. An internationally acclaimed teacher and conference speaker, Professor Markides has researched the topics of strategic innovation, business model innovation, diversification and international acquisitions.

    His work explores how established companies could pursue radical or disruptive innovation and how they can compete with two business models in the same industry. He also examines how companies can create a culture of continuous innovation and the role that individual managers play in making a company more innovative.

  • Deborah Keay

    Chief Customer & Growth Officer, Asto, Santander Group

    With a consultancy and agency background in digital transformation, Deborah has recently focussed on the start-up community, working as interim CMO / CPO and board adviser to a number of tech start-ups before becoming CMO and a Member of the Executive Committee of Starling Bank, a newly licensed challenger bank.

    Continuing her Fintech focus, Deborah is now Chief Customer & Growth Officer for Asto; a start-up focussed on the SMB sector, backed by Santander Group.

  • Richard Ambler

    Business Development Director, John Lewis Ventures

    Richard joined John Lewis straight from university on the graduate retail training scheme so to date is a ‘lifer’.

    In late 2016 he set up JLP Ventures as a Head of Business Development with a remit to rapidly test, develop and launch new propositions as part of the company’s diversification agenda.

    To date JLP Ventures has brought 5 new products to market. In May he led John Lewis’ acquisition of Opun, the Partnership’s first whole company acquisition in 18 years.

  • James Haycock

    VP, General Manager, UK, Idean


  1. 17:00

    Registration & a glass of prosecco

  2. 17:30

    James Haycock, Idean UK, on the concept of a Beta Business

  3. 18:00

    Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School. Costas has spent years studying spin-outs. When to launch them. What makes them successful, what can lead to failure and more. And he will be sharing all those learnings with us.

  4. 18:40

    Stories from the front line: the good, the bad, the learnings from people building new ventures. Deborah Keay, building a new digital venture backed by Santander, Richard Ambler, John Lewis Ventures, Costas Markides, James Haycock, and an advisor to one of the top venture capital houses in the UK

  5. 19:30

    3-course dinner and roundtable discussions

  6. 21:00

    James Haycock, Closing remarks

The guest list is a deliberate mix. We’re expecting ‘Heads of…’ and directors from the best-known businesses around (think Three, John Lewis and Barclays), as well as leaders from start-ups currently grabbing headlines. So expect some lively conversation.

Would you like to be invited to our next Beta Businesses event?

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