Yvonne O’Donovan


A business founder and serial entrepreneur in culture and agriculture, experienced in private sector and social enterprise start-ups, particularly food and music; now Head of Business and Enterprise at the School of Artisan Food; experienced by failure and success; enriched by hundreds of students and clients who have attended courses from throughout the UK and overseas.

What skills can you bring as a mentor?

My focus is on founders who want values with value; core skill is the ability to see straight to the heart of a business proposition and crunch the numbers to see if it is viable as well as beneficial; With a finance background and extensive knowledge of the key decisions for the aspiring entrepreneur, I can read the likelihood of success in a very short time.

What do you think makes the difference between a good business and a brilliant business?

This will be different for different people and investment criteria and so there is no simple answer. Having said that, a ‘brilliant’ business is usually great to work with, has a strong sense of ‘identity’ and knows what it is not.

If you had your time again in business, what would you do differently?

I would have more confidence in my own gut instinct and rely less on ‘experts’; I would be far more thoughtful before entering into critical partnerships or contractual relationships with third parties, especially family and friends; I would be more open with others about what I don’t know.


Head of Business & Enterprise, SCHOOL OF ARTISAN FOOD