Disruptor @UKPLC

Lee StraffordLee is the visionary and entrepreneurial leader who architected the success of PlusNet as its co-founder and CEO from 1997 to 2007, leading it from start-up, through IPO and finally to exit by sale for £67m to BT in 2007. All this was achieved by ensuring focus was maintained on very strong financial and customer KPI performance with a foundation based on an operating culture of openness and collaboration with employees, customers and supply chain partners. Following the sale of PlusNet,

Lee retired at the age of 35 but soon got bored and got involved in two “community projects”. The first project was volunteering to carry out a business turnaround at his beloved Sheffield Wednesday Football club. Prior to his involvement the club had fallen out with its fans, even suing some of them, and the key functions of the club had become antiquated and suffered from under investment. Lee modernised the club in all areas and reconnected the fans to the club and the club to its community in a positive and transparent manner but these initiatives did not have an impact on the playing side quick enough to prevent the club from slipping back into League One. The second project resulted in Lee contributing a lot of his time to the development of a new approach to collaboration between the public sector, private sector and higher education sector looking at how technology start-ups are developed and supported and also how the commercial opportunities around Broadband and the Internet can be captured. Lee became a founding board member of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership in Dec 2010.

In 2012 Lee co-founded the Dotforge Accelerator, working with other Angels in order to implement the thinking developed on how to best support digital entrepreneurs in the North of England. In 2013 Lee became a founding member of the TechCityUK Cluster Alliance, supporting activity across Yorkshire and The Humber, and promoting collaboration with the North West and North East. In 2014 Lee led the effort of a number of entrepreneurs and clusters which lead to the commitment of the TechNorth initiative.