Connector, Creator, Presenter

Oli Barrett MBE co-founded StartUp Britain, Tenner and social innovation agency Cospa.

Cospa, helps companies and causes to create and grow ventures which make money and make a difference. A good example of this is by helping over 2,000 young people to fix their own youth clubs, with Wickes, the DIY chain. Tenner (now run by Young Enterprise), is the UK’s largest schools enterprise competition and has challenged over 250,000 school pupils to see what they can achieve in one month, starting with £10. StartUp Britain is the national business funded campaign which supports people to start and grow a company.

“The man who has made it his mission in life to make others think about becoming entrepreneurs…Barrett is almost as well known in tech circles for his absolutely terrible jokes as his endless enthusiasm for inspiring others.” Evening Standard

Oli is a regular MC and speaker at international events. He has led eleven trade missions to the US, India and Brazil helping British companies (in health, clean-tech and web) to explore business opportunities. Oli’s entrepreneurial career started as a student and has included an events business in nine cities, an international language practice website (sold in 2008) and a sock subscription website which continues to ship internationally.

He is on the advisory boards of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, Tech London Advocates, One Million Mentors and Founders 4 Schools, and is a Fellow of social impact business builder Zinc.

Oli’s love in life is making valuable connections between people and ideas.

“A high-energy firecracker of a businessman who thrives on making connections” GQ Magazine (UK)

PODCAST – The Lens is a podcast which Oli created with Business in the Community – it is powered by Fujitsu and supported by McCann.

Please see below for a range of testimonials (for designing, chairing, facilitating and speaking), from a variety of clients.

“A consummate connector” WIRED Magazine 

“The man who introduced Speednetworking to the UK is a force to be reckoned with. The “most connected man in Britain” has a passion for creating “quality connections” between people.” The Independent 

“The former Butlins redcoat’s raison d’etre is connecting likeminded people – and he does it with a smile and grace second to none.” Elite Business Magazine

Master of Ceremonies/Compère:

“Oli has expertly hosted many events for NEF and CFE over the years. Our most recent was the CFE’s inaugural entrepreneurs lecture with Eric Schmidt, ex-Chairman of Alphabet and of Google as the keynote speaker. It was a high profile event with over 450 entrepreneurs, business leaders, government and policy makers in the audience as well as Sir Tim Berners Lee and two government ministers. Oli hosted the whole event with energy, professionalism and with great aplomb. I am always impressed by how much homework Oli puts into each event he hosts or chairs – he makes sure he knows about the main players, speakers and guests and devotes considerable time to making them feel comfortable. He’s a true professional and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him for any event, conference or gathering whether large or small. Thank you, Oli – you have been a great friend to both organisations and we look forward to our continued collaboration for many years!” Neeta Patel, New Entrepreneurs Foundation and Centre for Entrepreneurs.

“Oli was a delight to work with and brought great energy to his role as compere of the International FinTech Conference. He kept sessions running to time and ensured that the packed timetable on the main staged flowed seamlessly. He pitched his comments to the audience and provided all of the necessary information on the conference programme. Before the event, Oli gave helpful advice on how to run the pitch session, drawing on his extensive experience of compering industry events. Oli was professional throughout the process of event planning and on the day of the conference itself.” HM Treasury

“Oli Barrett is pitch-perfect as an MC. He keeps everything running on time but he does so with just the right blend of charm, wit, smart information he has committed to memory, and a common touch people find hard to resist” Names Not Numbers, by Editorial Intelligence.

“Oli is perhaps the best MC I have ever met. He really made our first customer event special. He was able to elicit the most interesting answers from the pannelists and keep the audience engaged after 2 hours in their seats. I’d highly recommend getting Oli onboard for your next event.” DueDil

“He did a superb job of getting the crowd engaged, and kept the event flowing artfully. He masterfully introduced speakers and engaged the audience. I was delighted by how the event went off– great energy, great flow, and happy attendees. Oli was funny, charismatic, and on message. It was a delight to watch him in action. ” NewCo

“Whenever Oli is in charge of your event, the night will run beautifully.  He’s uber-professional to work with, he understands his audience and knows not only how to control them, but also how to create the best atmosphere in the room” MTV Staying Alive Foundation


“He is the most inspiring, confident, funny and honest speaker you could hope to find. Whether Oli is talking about the benefits of networking, problem solving in a creative way, explaining the benefits of start-ups or just inspiring others to take action, his inclusive style and positive attitude bring everyone along with him.” The Marketing Academy 

“He is always one of our most popular speakers, not only because his energy lifts the room but because his methods bring real life results and opportunities!” The Queen’s Young Leaders 

“A force of energy, positivity, inspiration and practical guidance – always delivered in style, both entertaining and engaging.”  Wayra (the global accelerator programme owned by Telefónica.)

Panel moderator:

“He is superb at what he does, a consummate professional and pleasure to work with. He also has a talent for turning the thorniest debates into lively, enjoyable and constructive conversations from which everyone learns a great deal. I cannot recommend him too highly.” IOD

“He facilitates and entertains with flair, listens carefully and elicits solid responses from speakers. He always puts in the work beforehand to really understand what the organisers would like to get from an event, is always faultlessly prepared with pertinent questions, diplomatically managing the speakers and the audience.” New Entrepreneurs Foundation

“He never fails to impress in the way he clearly prepares and engages both the speakers and the audience with such flair, professionalism and always with a touch of comedy which makes it so special.” London and Partners

“Oli is a simply a superb moderator and panellist – witty, engaging and full of charisma – he has a natural ability to bring any room of people to life. He’s also exceptionally professional and is nothing but a delight to work with.” Bright Network

Workshop Facilitator:

“From the first time we sat down together to plan the event, through the day itself, to the debrief session afterwards, he was full of ideas, contacts and positive energy. It is a real challenge to hold a room full of big personalities – and to help them think afresh about controversial ideas – but Oli made it look easy.” The IMPRESS Project

Awards Host:

“Oli is the most fantastic person to work with. A consummate pro, always brilliantly prepped, enthusiastic, and goes above and beyond to ensure everyone enjoys and gets value out of the event they’re attending. So well connected, he typically knows as many, if not more, people in the room than us as hosts. For the third year running Oli MCed the Startups Awards with aplomb, bringing the right blend of humour, humility and seriousness. It’s not an easy balance to achieve, but so crucial for making finalists feel truly special while being entertained – even in the event of not picking up an award I think the vast majority walked away feeling they’d been celebrated and got more than the value of their attendance. With all this in mind I sincerely hope I get to work with Oli for many years to come!” Ian Wallis, Editorial Director, StartUps.co.uk

“Oli is a charming and engaging event host and MC. He has a ready wit and a great ability to get the audience involved and connected. We have worked with him at intimate events and large scale ceremonies and he excels at both. Perhaps most importantly for a host, Oli knows how to make the event about the other guests and speakers, providing a well-judged balance to them and keeping the event moving in a timely fashion.” The Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

“On stage, Oli is to my mind one of the best in the business, delivering a perfect balance of good humour and serious chat that keeps the audience engaged and entertained. But Oli is no mere compere who pops along for a couple of hours then leaves. He engages with you on your project for months in advance, offering wise advice, great format and content ideas and access to the right brilliant contacts. He works hard to help you get your detail right, and won’t stop encouraging you until it is. Oli is the consummate professional, and I learn 10 things every time I work with him.” Digital Agenda Impact Awards

Conference Chair:

 “He was great at keeping the energy in the room high and ensuring that all the delegates had an awesome time. He did not let the speakers get away with anything – probing them in Paxman style fashion and continually working to ensure that the days of the event had a good flow. He had quite obviously done a lot of work in preparation and as a result peppered the day with useful and amusing nuggets of information.”  Youth Marketing Strategy

For more information or to book...

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