CITYZONE: history, event formats, themes and venues

Published by Ronan Bryan on January 8, 2016, 9:00 am in Promotion, Blog post


Wednesday January 1st 2020

Between 2003 and 2012, Cityzone ran business networking events, seminars, workshops and dinners for thousands of company directors, entrepreneurs, investors and advisers. Although members and attendees were based all over the UK, most events took place in London.

Cityzone was founded and managed by Ronan Bryan. Over a 9-year period, nearly 100 team members were recruited from the undergraduates and graduates of Cass Business School and City University London and trained to run great events.

The Cityzone event format was inspired positively by the brilliant, time-structured and educational Toastmasters presentation skills events and negatively (!) by how awkward, random and shallow business networking can be. Cityzone events were lively and structured, with as much enjoyment, humour and business purpose as possible.


These were the main components:

  • RELEVENT ATTENDEES / GREAT SPEAKERS. Cityzone built up a multi-sector database of over 40,000 cross-referenced market contacts and mailed out thousands of these on a regular basis. Hundreds of companies and “Accelerator” organisations presented at Cityzone events. For some of the names, please follow these links:
  • COMPANIES: from start-ups to thriving businesses to investor-backed and AIM-listed…
  • ACCELERATORS: investment groups, advisers, government agencies, academic groups, authors and media. All of the Cityzone event sponsors came from this group – and they were an essential part of business, subsidising attendance fees and keeping Cityzone solvent…
  • PRESENTATIONS / Q&A. Very brief presentations, a strong emphasis on Q&A guided by the compere (RB), avoidance of PowerPoint where possible and a tight programme controlled by a “Time Lord” (usually a volunteer attendee) and the “Time Machine” (traffic light system).
  • NETWORKING. Business-like networking that relied on a trained team of introducers, clear and informative name badges, detailed event programmes and attendee lists, the “Dance Card” and the “Deal Flow” board. The goal was to help attendees to meet as many relevant people as possible and to have an enjoyable (and often, educational) experience.
  • THEMES included: Research to Business, Doing business in India, Doing business in China, World Enterprise, Creative Industries, Alternative Energy, Women Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise, Xpansion Pitch, Innovation, Corporate Venturing and others.
  • FORMATS included: directorBAR, directorFORUM, CEO Clinic, CFO Workshop, NED Workshop, enterprise CAFFE, IPO Club and others.
  • VENUES included: Cass Business School, City University London, Imperial College London, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, London Metropolitan University, Regus (London, Cambridge & Reading), De Vere Venues, Corney & Barrow and the offices of Fasken Martineau, Olswang and BDO.

Cityzone ceased operations after accepting that it was too difficult to build a real-time market database and brokerage model with its very limited resources AND to run events at the same time.

The Holy Grail had always been to make money connecting business counter-parties in a way that was discreet, efficient and in the interests of all its network members. To this end, Cityzone channelled its later stage revenues and energies into research and web development for the Directorzone project.

Now on its 3rd web platform and after a colossal amount of specifying, designing, coding and testing this Directorzone web site is now in beta test and you are on it! We look forward to your feedback and - soon - interaction on the site.



IMAGES: stills from the Cityzone video archive.