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10 Downing Street

Mitesh Patel, founder of Lenstore, meets David Cameron at No.10 Downing Street

Mitesh Patel, the founder of Lenstore, an award winning online retailer of contact lenses, attended a garden party at No.10 Downing Street on 5th June 2013. The purpose of the event was to celebrate small businesses in the UK, and Mitesh’s impressive entrepreneurial success scored him an invite alongside famous names such as James Caan from Dragons’ Den, George Osborne and Vince Cable.

Mitesh Patel at Downing StreetThe event was kick-started by two short speeches; from Vince Cable and David Cameron. Mr. Cable discussed the importance of encouraging business to first time entrepreneurs. He highlighted the success of the start-up loans program, brainchild of Lord Young, which had just recently given out its 5000th loan. 

He similarly congratulated the government’s apprenticeship scheme. In his speech, Mr. Cameron thanked all present for their contribution to UK business in the global economic race – and for providing more jobs to British people.

Mitesh had a very stimulating conversation with Neill Ricketts, Chief Executive of Versarien Ltd, about the goverment’s apprenticeship scheme. He was interested to learn that Versarien Ltd  employ 30% of their staff through the scheme and is now considering this as an option for his own businesses.

There was also an engaging discussion surrounding the pros and cons of external investment. Mitesh was able to share his expertise with the group based on his experience with one of Lenstore’s external investors, Keith Potts, CEO of Evenbase and Jobsite. Mitesh and Keith have also been interviewed for an article in Elite Business Magazine on securing business investment.

One MP was interested to find out how Mitesh thinks the government can improve its support for small businesses in the UK. Unquestionably for Mitesh, it is to expose young people in schools to business and entrepreneurs. 

According to numerous studies, such as the Harris Interactive survey and Gallop-HOPE Index Report, children are significantly more likely to express an interest in business if their parents or close family members are entrepreneurs themselves. He firmly believes that educating and exciting young people about business is the key to creating a culture of patient capital in the UK –  to ensure that entrepreneurs are building their businesses with long term views, rather than purely to sell on in 2-3 years.

To shake the hand of the Prime Minister and be congratulated on his entrepreneurial successes was a very proud moment for Mitesh. He hopes that he has managed to influence the debate, and eagerly awaits his second invite to Downing Street (although he suspects that he has peaked too soon, having met both Sir Richard Branson and David Cameron in the space of just one month!)