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Mission to Mars - via Bristol!

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We went to Mars last night – well, sort of…

On February 22, BCMS, Burges Salmon LLP and Rathbones jointly hosted a dinner event at the fabulous Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. In a beautifully lit Victorian art gallery, we were surrounded by works by some of the past century’s most celebrated ‘Women of Vision’, artists Dame Elisabeth Frink, Sandra Blow and Sonia Lawson. Our guest speaker was a person of vision, too, and the theme for the evening was how the sale of a business can be a springboard to the next big adventure.

Bas Lansdorp is the CEO of Mars 1, and his dream is – wait for it – for humans to colonise the planet Mars. As you might expect, his story is truly out of this world.

If you are not familiar with the Mars 1 mission, then get started on the detailed Mars 1 website. Bas’ company is using crowdfunding, the sale of media rights and other commercial relationships to launch a first robotic mission to the red planet in 2022, with the first manned flight planned for a decade after that. The business case is controversial and thought-provoking, and the ‘end goal’ exciting and challenging—primarily because, if you are one of the four people going to Mars in 2032, you ain’t ever coming back. It’s a one-way ticket to ride!

It’s a one-way ticket to ride!

At the heart of Bas’ message is the tale of an entrepreneur with a big dream. A mechanical engineer by training, Bas sold his first business – a sustainable-energy technology company – to help make that dream a reality.

Bas’ business sale has liberated him to pursue his unique vision. Many of the entrepreneurs in the room last night—which included past BCMS clients, known as the BCMS Fellows, and those we hope will work with us one day—are on a similar journey.

While our BCMS Fellows aren’t planning any space explorations, they are doing some incredible things, including engaging in philanthropic ventures, inventing new technologies, starting and acquiring new companies, mentoring other entrepreneurs, and even becoming professional adventurers! (One past client, Tom Woodard, is cycling from Cape Town to Cairo as we speak!)

My point is this: deal-making can be dream-making, too. The sale of a business can open up new possibilities that previously seemed out of reach.

Bas was brilliant and truly inspiring.

Bas clearly connected with many of our guests, in a way only another entrepreneur can. One attendee came up to me afterwards and said: “Great event, Liz. How on earth are you ever going to top that?” I’ve just had an email from another BCMS Fellow who said simply: “Bas was brilliant and truly inspiring.”

One of our guests sitting near me took notes, and we took a sneaky peek at what was written on the pad. There, in bold, black handwriting, double-underlined, it read: “Life is a one-way mission.

He’s right, of course. The true spirit of an entrepreneur is one of exploration.

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Liz Jackson's picture
Posted Feb 2018
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