Newcastle Startup Week Ambassador #5: Rachel Horton (The Culture Vulture)

In our line of work we get to meet hundreds of amazing entrepreneurs each year who each have a great story to tell about how and why they decided to start their own business.

Our Newcastle Startup Week festival has been created to help raise the profile and shine a light on the North East business community and the key players within it which is why we have over 50 speakers across 5 days between 15th-19th May 2017 (see our full ‘Schedule’ at

We’ve also appointed some Newcastle Startup Week ‘Ambassadors‘ – up-and-coming entrepreneurs and influencers who we think are already doing or have the potential to do truly great things in the future. These are helping us spread the word about our event both online and offline, inspiring others to come along to learn more about what it takes to start and grow their own business in the region.

With this in mind we’re delighted to announce that our 5th Newcastle Startup Week Ambassador is Rachel Horton (aka ‘The Culture Vulture‘)…

Rachel Horton (The Culture Vulture)

1. Hi Rachel, can you please give a brief summary of who you are and what you do?

Well hello, I’m Rachel – I work for Gateshead Culture team, I do freelance projects in a variety of areas for cultural organisations and creative businesses and am also ‘The Culture Vulture‘ – a newly launched business.

As The Culture Vulture I champion all the weird and wonderful goings on in the region culturally and creatively, I work with artists, venues, cultural organisations and creative businesses on things like audience development, business planning, digital marketing, event management, project management etc. I also run my own cultural activity and events…

I am unconventional, known for my untamed hair and cackle of a laugh. I’ve worked in the sector a really long time now – I’m all about taking risks, being entrepreneurial, breaking rules, making new rules, experimenting, testing and I work a million miles an hour. It’s fun, it’s exciting and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. How many people are in your business? Is it just you or do you have business partners / employees?

In my business, whilst it is just me technically – I don’t see it that way. I have a rich network, supporters, champions, partners, collaborators, etc who I work with. Whilst some activity might be me on my own, most of my projects are supported by or collaborated on with others.

I outsource a lot of activity too to fellow entrepreneurs and businesses where possible and needed. I can’t be everywhere doing everything at every time, so I look quite strategically at what I’m going to deliver and what I can bring someone on board to help with.

Within the Culture Team, I work with an absolutely fantastic team. I never saw myself within a corporate structure working for a boss…I’m very lucky that my direct boss is a complete megababe, inspiration and really lets me run with it – she allows me complete autonomy and freedom. I love working with her!

Rachel Horton (The Culture Vulture)

3. How did you get started? What was the inspiration or motivation for doing it?

For me, and I said this recently the other day at an event I was speaking at, it wasn’t a sudden light bulb moment. I’ve gradually flirted more and more with entrepreneurship over the past 15 years.

I also know my own mind very well now – I’m an opportunity jumper and I really go with my gut – I’m not afraid to stand and fall on my own, as it’s all about learning. But I have to be mindful, that at 31, I’m not able to sack off my employment and projects and jump into The Culture Vulture full time. I’m building something of quality, capacity, capability and I want to keep ownership for now whilst investing constantly back into the business.

Motivation for business? It suits my personality, attitudinal goals, aspirations and I’m really excited and happy…I tried the corporate world and graduate scheme – it’s absolutely not for me. I found it soul-destroying and I also couldn’t get my head around working and building someone else’s dream, implementing someone else’s strategy, etc. I’m all about building something myself…I need space to be creative, to be listened to, to feel that intrinsic motivation that burns into the belly to continue…

I also really love working on multiple projects, at multiple stages with a whole host of people in a variety of forms – it’s fast-paced, a real challenge and I’m always learning from activities and people.

4. What are you working on right now? What’s next for your business?

I’m currently working on Q Festival – a 24 day cultural festival on Baltic Square from 14th July-6th August. It’s going to be amazing – I’ve programmed quite a bit of activity and delivering some things myself. It’s in collaboration with Jesterval which is always a great event too…programme will be announced very soon!

Otherwise, I’m working on The Culture Vulture – I will be launching the website shortly and I’m building the business and got lots of projects on going. And lots of Autumn-time projects coming up….

For the business, at the moment I’ve cast my net quite wildly in terms of my offering – so it’s about refining the offering based on experimenting and testing. I’m trying to build into the business, the ability to work with emerging artists, creatives, projects and more established individuals too – but being able to do so in-kind and as a mentor or in some form whilst also having a really strong and growing commercial aspect of the business too.

5. What are you most looking forward to about Newcastle Startup Week?

For me I love the look of Day 1 @ The Boiler Shop on Monday 15th May (aka ‘Inspiration Day‘). I love intangible and inspirational stuff; no matter what stage you’re in, it’s so important to take time out and listen to others and get inspired. Can’t wait for Amber Rae – she’s amazing and Ami Davies (My Little Explorer), love her business. Will be lush to hear from Jason Knights, I’ve seen him speak many times now and of course, the friendly faces of Lyndsey Britton, Lynsey Morrow & Gemma Sayers (Campus North / Tech For Life). I’m certainly then going to make my way along to see ‘Joy‘ @ The Tyneside Cinema.

Thursday looks like a lush day too – my ex-lecturer Lucy Hatt from Northumbria University is speaking, so of course I will be championing and cheering for her throughout.

And, last but not least, of course is the ‘Digital Alliance’ afterparty which I’m hosting on Tuesday night at Kommunity – a cultural feast for you and fellow attendees with a couple of celebratory gins (of course)!

6. What advice would you give to someone starting out in business / following in your footsteps?

Build a team, earn a network, capture experience, absorb knowledge, own your decisions, embrace uncertainty, adapt to the unknown, believe in yourself, listen to your gut, treat your time and energy as a sacred resource and of course, enjoy it!

Want to meet Rachel?

Get your ticket for our 5 day (+ night) Newcastle Startup Week festival in May by clicking on the link below:

Eventbrite - Newcastle Startup Week (15-19 May 2017)

Rachel Horton (The Culture Vulture)

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