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From pushing Pringles to sparking weddings, founder Richard Tyrrell tells the story of Manchester Young Professionals

Written by Jack Rigby.
Posted December 14, 2023.

Over the last decade, Manchester Young Professionals have gone from humble beginnings, a twitter account and a room at The Wharf, to thousands of young professionals passing through their events each year and forging lasting friendships along the way. We catch up with co-founder Richard Tyrrell to find out where it all started, why it provides such an important role in the city, and why, if you’ve not been before, you should get yourself along to one of their events.

For Richard, it all started when he moved to Manchester with co-founder Andrew and he was working for Kellogg’s as key account manager selling cereal and Pringles.

“Myself and Andrew went to school together and did our University life together. We were the first of our uni friends to move to Manchester. We both had jobs in the city so we decided we’d try and live together in town so we could explore the city more.

“We didn’t know the city then though, we didn’t know how to navigate it, we just knew it was an exciting, a growing place to be with lots of opportunity. And because we didn’t know it, when it came to finding a place to live, we were just driving around Deansgate and Castlefield one day and Andrew pointed to a block and said, “That’s where my brother used to live.” and that’s inevitably where we ended up living.

“That’s really where it all started, we had one night a week in together where we’d just watch TV after work and chat about business ideas and things to do however stupid that sounds! We wanted a better social life too, we’d been to networking events but it was all very formal, suits, name tags, you couldn’t really relax. Andrew works in professional services so getting out to meet people was important for his job and I love meeting people. We saw there was a genuine need for a down-to-earth networking event, so that’s what we went after. So, we launched a twitter account MCR Young Pros, booked a room at the Wharf, and set up a link for tickets.”

Manchester Young Professionals' first tweet
The tweet which started it all for MYP

“The first event was around 20 people, half the people in the room were our friends, the rest had got tickets online through Twitter. It was very simple, but quite effective in the sense that we felt we got a nice group of people together who were all in the same place and wanted to have a good time and extend their network.”

“Feedback on the night was great, so we said let’s do another, that was at the Oast House for around 30 people. We were finding our feet, Andrew and I both doing full-time jobs at the same time. We did a few bigger events as time went on, including collaborating with others in the city and it quickly got to around 15 events a year, and getting more serious, but it was still just a side thing.”

Early Manchester Young Professionals event
Early Manchester Young Professionals event

At one point did you make the leap from it being a side hustle, to a full-time business?

“I suppose four or five years in, one thing that changed is that we noticed a development in the people, they wanted to look after themselves more, and drinking events, albeit important to a lot of our audience, they could be seen as old fashioned for some. And so, we thought how can we bring something fresh to the table?

“There was a gym, M3 perform that we knew about, we decided let’s have a go at doing a networking event there but with a class and a healthy smoothie and salad bowl afterwards. So, we did that. And to the surprise of many, it was pretty successful, we had 15 people there, the gym was happy, people were happy because they met some new guys and did a new thing, that was our first event on our wellbeing journey, and it helped to take us onto the next level.”

m3 partnership with manchester young professionals
Manchester Young Professionals at M3 Perform

“But it wasn’t until after Covid when things really became viable as a career. We kept the group really active online during Covid and when we could finally socialise, people really wanted to come and meet and be a part of the MYP community.”

Like Union, Manchester Young Professionals is all about bringing people together who’re at the start of their journey so they can really make the most of their opportunity and get ahead. Rich tell us why building your circle is so important when you’re starting out?

“Part of thriving in a city is about networking, developing your circle of people and socialising. I guess you look for new friends in a new city because it’s in a new part of your life. Making friends with colleagues is great, but, it’s maybe harder to form a meaningful bond when you have the wider office eco system to fit into and be a part of. That’s how I felt at Kellogg’s, loads of great people, and in some ways, that could have been enough, but it needed to be both social and professional for me and that’s what Manchester Young Professionals gave me – and I think it’s what it gives the others who come along to our events. I think what I found was, all through your life, school, university etc you have these leaders and moments which help you to navigate you through. When it comes to your professional career, you don’t really get that, so having a community like ours, which helps people get ahead, find mentors, find people to connect with, is really important.”

“But it’s also tough for many people to meet people, and traditional networking events are daunting. One thing we’ve been about from the start, and we’ll always be about is the initial welcome. It’s something we ensure we all our team do. At the start of the night, we make sure we say hello, tell them what to expect from the event, what’s going to happen and  introduce them to people. Our audience is mixed, from accountants to teachers, PRs to legals, but the thing which unifies them is that they want to meet people and grow their circle, so they’re all in the same boat, so as soon as you explain that to people, you see them grow really quickly. That’s one of the greatest things about what we do, seeing how people start the night and how they leave. It can be transformational. We’ve had people come looking for love, we’ve had people who met at our events and have gone onto get married. It’s incredible to get that email sent through with their wedding pictures, and we’ve had people who’ve found real confidence and gone onto flourish in their careers, get the promotions they’re after.  Seeing that change in people and hearing about how people evolve as a result of coming along is really rewarding.”

Describe to us, what’s the typical person who comes bright-eyed for the first time to one of your events?

“Probably typically, they want to either meet someone new, new friends, or they’re brand new to Manchester, or their business has said, you should expand your network and has bought them a ticket as part of their professional development so they can come along. A third of our attendees for each event are new through the door that day. People all step through the door with good intentions and have a good energy. That in many respects helps to create this community and makes the whole thing work. The broad array of events we offer helps too, people can do anything and everything from our running clubs to big dinners, so provided you come with an open mind, and you’re willing to put in what you want to get out, you’ll make the most of the event, no matter who you’re.”

I suppose what keeps bringing people back is the different types of events we organise, we like to do things which are original and also provide ways which naturally provide people with plenty of opportunity to talk. Supper Clubs, there’s no seating plans, it’s a food led event with a venue partner, the food naturally sparks conversation. It’s the same if we do something at Barry’s, because people are sharing an experience, there’s plenty of opportunity to meet people and share that experience with, it’s the same for our running club.

Manchester Young Professionals Runing Club
Manchester Run Club

So, do you have to be king of the icebreakers to help get the conversation flowing or ease people in who’re nervous?

We’ve got a really good team who attend every event and remove that for people, there’s a minimum of four MYP people at each event, they bring energy into the room, help ensure there’s good conversation and nobody gets left out. But that hopefully also never feels obvious or forced, it’s more someone who’s a little more experienced, has been before, was perhaps in their shoes years ago and is helping ease those conversations, the events naturally make that easy too, as people are taking on a new experience together.”

Manchester Young Professionals Team
Manchester Young Professionals

You’re undoubtably one of the souls of the city, helping to bring Manchester together and supporting people on their journey. If you were to give a shout out to three people, or brands who’re your souls and you feel deserve a shout out, who’re they and why?

The guys at M3 perform, they’ve been an important part of our journey and they’re good guys.

Bondi Bowls, that guy basically started out making his food during lockdown, going out and delivering it on his bike, to a venue doing great, healthy food. 

And then there’s 12 in our team, who all do amazing stuff for us, from marketing to finance, they really put the time into helping make Manchester Young Professionals grow and bring forward new ideas. It’s really important to Andrew and I, it isn’t just our ideas, we do new things to grow and engage the community.”

And final question, as people will want to know. What’s the best-selling Pringle?

“A lot of people have asked me this, it’s actually original with sour cream and chive a close second along with Barbecue.”