Fuelling great ideas by socially collaborating (in a nutshell)
Last week on Wednesday evening (26th September), PleaseFund.Us, the Big Society Network and Nexters co-hosted a conference with open-floor panel discussions. We explored how we as a society can collaborate and fuel great ideas.
The event was held in London in the ever-impressive Somerset House, thanks to the Big Society Network, and it coincided with Social Media Week, a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. The importance of social media, and technology in general, was emphasised by Tarkan Ahmet, Managing Director of PleaseFund.Us and co-host for the evening, who opened the event by speaking about its importance in relation to the new social and cultural paradigm of sharing and collaborating.
Sharing and collaborating has become a part of our every day lives, and Rachel Botsman’s short video was a rather fitting introduction to the overall theme of the conference.
Her theory on ‘collaborative consumption’ describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing (bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping), which has been redefined through technology and peer communities. Jeff Lyn, CEO of Seedrs, elaborated on this further by stating that what they’re doing is nothing new or innovative, but rather it is the development in technology that has allowed for crowfunding platforms, such as Seedrs, to function the way that they do.
Crowdfunding was one of the key topics discussed during the evening, with three of the panelists sharing their personal experiences of three very different platforms. Seedrs for example, is an online platform for investing capital in start-ups that offers a seamless and highly efficient way of bringing investors and entrepreneurs together. On a question from the audience regarding the criteria that Seedrs have for entrepreneurs featured on their site, Jeff explained that Seedrs look for businesses with substance behind the core idea, but let the investors essentially ‘vote with their wallets’.
Tarkan Ahmet, Co-Founder and UK Managing Director of PleaseFund.Us, added to Jeff’s comments by pointing out that the Statue of Liberty was in fact crowdfunded by American citizens who responded to a newspaper advertisement. He later explained how PleaseFund.Us is an alternative to sites like Seedrs that specializes in creative projects that are non-equity based. Tarkan also spoke about the importance of their dedicated team of ‘community managers’ who are there to help and collaborate with project owners, and who essentially share people's goal of getting their ideas funded.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation and Co-Founder of StartUp Britain, spoke about how social media has changed the playing field for start ups in Britain. She’s ‘never seen so many businesses collaborate/partner/share to achieve their goals.’ The business environment has changed since she launched her first business at the height of the dot com boom 12 years ago, when there was no Twitter or Facebook to encourage collaboration between businesses in their start up phase - which is when you very much need the support and help from others as well as the means of getting in touch with experts that can help with certain areas of the launch. Emma also gave a great example of how many self-employed and work-from-home individuals are looking to share workspace. All with the intention of collaborating and sharing ideas in an office environment, regardless to how much their businesses differ.
Freya Murray, Arts Manager at BSKYB and Laura McFarlane, Partnerships Manager at IdeasTap, spoke about the collaborative partnership between Sky Arts and IdeasTap. Together they deliver the Sky Arts Ignition Series: Future Fund, offering creatives between the age of 18 and 30 the chance to win a £30,000 bursary for a year.
Laura McFarlane said: “As a community with Sky we have a better chance of brokering a better deal for young creatives”. Freya Murray agreed, saying that the partnership with IdeasTap has made the fund stronger, enabling them to better deliver a holistic approach for young creatives to break into the creative industries.
Chris Campbell, Strategy Director of Spacehive, the world’s first funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects, spoke about how collaboration between the Glyncoch community and project funders using the Spacehive funding platform succeeded in creating a brand new multi-purpose community centre as an active hub for Glyncoch. Spacehive collaborated with local businesses, councils, and local residents, which made this possible. Their most current project is the Stockwell Urban Oasis, aiming to becoming an inspiring and educational “forest garden” with a strong focus on adventure and a place where children from Stockwell and surrounding communities can learn and play together.
The evening ended with an open floor panel discussion followed by an opportunity for guests to network and share ideas and projects. There was also a chance to speak to some of the exhibitors, including School For Creative StartUps who have recently teamed up with Seedrs and are soon to embark on their UK tour, Windows of Opportunity. Each of the nine free events in nine different cities are led by original Drangon’s Den investor, Doug Richard, and will provide a fresh perspective on raising and investing money.
We hope everyone had a great evening, and we hope that everyone left feeling inspired, with new ideas and useful contacts.