Dragons' Den and Oxford spires: an empowering entrepreneurial story

4 minute read
Fan Yang standing in the Dragons' Den TV studio

The candle-lit graduation dinner in Oxford University Museum of Natural History was filled with words of affirmation and warm hugs. Both are my sort of love language which serve perfectly as a reminder of why I just love this programme so much. I sit at the table by the ancient Egyptian gods with my name tag in front of me, surrounded by newly made friends, my growth expert from Goldman Sachs and teams from Saïd Business School. I still can’t believe this happened to me and how quickly it all came to an end. It felt like a dream, and what a dream!

The last few months have been fast-paced, challenging, thought-provoking and completely transformational. Now I hear your skepticism and I was with you four months ago, but now I’m converted. Not only that, I feel like a new woman with a fresh kind of mind. Still skeptical? Allow me to walk you through the programme (virtually) and let’s put an end to all the hard-to-believes.


Spoiler alert! Over the three months of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme, you will get an in-depth learning in subjects such as strategies for growth, effective leadership, marketing planning, communication and sales, and finance for growth.

Unlike other courses, this programme is designed by Goldman Sachs and Saïd Business School, two at the absolute top of their games, covering both business practices and the realm of academics. All the professors, guest speakers and growth experts who are dedicated to your own needs are world-class and full of wisdom. They share the fundamentals of any subjects to give you a more structured way of thinking and at the same time arm you with both classic theories and the newest models in business studies, which enables you to implement knowledge to your business day-to-day.

What makes the programme completely next-level is how intellectually challenging and stimulating it is. It is full of real-life case studies and ‘role plays’ that encourage everyone on the programme to be a constructive contributor and strategic thinker. I discovered I learned the most through this interactive and engaging process; it ignites my curiosity, my ability to perceive the new and challenge the old. It also inspires me with different perspectives and elevates me as a leader from very much involved in day-to-day, to a level of values and visions.

I will never forget the final presentation day. It was nerve-wracking to stand in front of everyone, and believe me, I was in the BBC Dragons' Den studio and I still find this is a lot to take! But the minute I started to talk about my business growth plan, the atmosphere shifted; it felt empowering, it felt warm.

Fan Yang presenting in the classroom to her fellow participants of the Goldman Sachs programme

It has been quite a journey of growth. Not just for my own business, it also has been for myself. I escaped the shadow of ‘imposter syndrome’ and transformed into a woman with confidence and certainty. I discovered not only the tools to grow my little business empire but also the kindness and a positive headspace to nurture me as a person.


About 14 years ago I moved to the UK to pursue a master’s degree in the creative industries. Without going into detail, you expect a slightly typical first generation immigrant story: language challenge, cultural clash, identity crisis, socially awkward, etc. However, I’m happy to report that over the years I have thrived from all my insecurities and become an entrepreneur running my plant-based snack company based in London. Fast forward to today, my company now supplies 800+ stores in the UK and exports to over ten countries, also proudly supporting good causes for a children-oriented charity.

I’m incredibly grateful to be a graduate of this programme, to be given this opportunity to learn from all these amazing leaders across different industries and so many great minds from around the world.

Now I hope I have converted you. If there is a 0.000001% chance that I failed (thanks to the programme I’m now passionate about constructive criticism), you have got to join the programme yourself and prove me wrong. I will wait for that gladly at your graduation ceremony.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme