Now We Have a Plan

Earlier this year Ellen MacArthur travelled to Vancouver to present at TED2015. In her 17 minute talk she shares the most important lesson that she learned while sailing solo around the world. It’s a great watch to end your day on a high!

Learn More…!

To learn more about the circular economy the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have a number of resources available:

  • Circulate is an online news publication edited by the Foundation. Updated daily, it is a great source of stories and links related to the transition to a circular economy.
  • Every year the Foundation hosts an open-source online event, the Disruptive Innovation Festival. This 3-week event (taking place Nov 2 – 20 2015) brings together thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, designers, businesses, learners and doers to catalyse the system change necessary to shift to the future economy. You can get involved either by participating either as a viewer or by contributing your own ideas!

Have you seen any examples of a circular economy in action? Share in the comments below!


Collaboration of the Month – Crowdcube


Collaborative Investment

I’m going to bet that most of you have heard the term “crowdfunding” and are aware of what it entails. Many of you have probably visited Kickstarter or Indiegogo to have a look at what exciting (or ridiculous) projects are seeking funding. Perhaps one or two of you have even taken a step further and contributed to a project that has peaked your interest. However involved you have become, crowdfunding has become a viable, and exciting, option for entrepreneurs looking for early stage funding to launch their ideas.

Let’s Rewind a Bit

I should probably spend a little bit of time explaining what crowdfunding is to those readers who aren’t so clued up on the concept. Please feel free to skip over this section of you have even the slightest understanding of what crowdfunding is.

The concept is actually pretty simple and, to be honest, the clue is in the title. Crowdfunding is the term given to the practice of raising capital, typically for a project or new business venture, from a large number of people. That is the essence of crowdfunding, it is in the details (as with most things) that things can get a bit complicated and confusing.

Generally speaking there are three types of crowdfunding: equity-based, credit-based and rewards-based. Again, these are rather self-explanatory; in equity-based crowdfunding the finance is provided in exchange for equity in the business, in credit-based the finance takes the form of a loan and on rewards-based platforms the investors receive a “reward” from the creators of the funding campaign. These rewards-based platforms are exemplified by the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, two of the most recognisable platforms.

Right, I think that’s enough background reading!

“Investing Just Got Exciting”

Or, at least, according to the people at Crowdcube. Now, they may be overstating things a little. I have certainly never found investing very exciting, but I think that there are plenty of people who do. However, that’s the point of crowdfunding, to bring investing into the realm of people like me. To give us the opportunity to poke our heads behind the curtain and play at being an angel investor.

Crowdcube falls into the category of mixed crowdfunding platforms, offering both rewards-based and equity-based campaigns. This means that certain campaigns on Crowdcube allow investors to become direct shareholders in the company they invest in and enjoy all of the benefits (and risks) that entails. The exciting part is that the minimum investment is £10, so unlike the investors in Dragons’ Den there is no need to sit ominously in a leather chair beside a large pile of cash when making your investment decision!

I should mention that there are details such as the class of the shares offered and the rights they come with (such as voting rights), so you really should read all of the fine print if you are going to make the investment.

Probably not the safest way to display your wealth...!
Probably not the safest way to display your wealth…!

Formula 1 – Crowd Powered

I could have chosen from a number of platforms for this article, there is certainly no shortage of them. Crowdcube grabbed my attention, however, with an investment call that appealed directly to me, a Formula 1 fan!

Ailing Formula 1 team, Caterham, launched a rewards-based campaign to raise £2,350,00 in order to allow them to race at the final race of the 2014 season in Abu-Dhabi. The world of Formula 1 has always been the realm of the mega-wealthy and uber-famous. Teams are usually financed by people who own super-yachts and football clubs, and sponsorship money drawn from global brands adorn every inch of free space on the cars. Until now.

The campaign was incredibly successful with over 6,000 investors raising a sum of £2,354,389, successfully sending the CaterhamF1 team to race in Abu-Dhabi.

That, for me, is the purest example of the power of crowdfunding. 6,467 people wanted Caterham to race in Abu Dhabi and, through Crowdcube in this instance, they were empowered to rally together and do something about it, rather than hopelessly waiting for a wealthy investor to make a decision about the team they support.

Who knows what this could mean for the future. Will other struggling F1 teams turn to crowdfunding to raise the exorbitant sums necessary to succeed in the sport? Will ardent football fans, dismayed at the decisions of the super-wealthy owner of their club finally have an avenue to do more than simply armchair commentary? It is too early to tell, but I think that is the true excitement of crowdfunding.

Less Stuff = More Happiness?

I’m not sure I would be able to confine myself to a space this small, but I do think Graham Hill makes a valid point in this TED talk. Every time I move into a new place I am astounded by how much stuff I seem to have gathered!

Give it a watch when you have 10 spare minutes.

Think you could live in a space that size?

Collaboration of the Month – EatWith

First Things First

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the subtle change in the title of this post. Collaboration of the Week has miraculously transformed into Collaboration of the Month, what’s up with that?! In all honesty, I was probably a little overambitious when I thought of writing a weekly post about a cool collaborative consumption idea. As it turns out, it didn’t take very long for the weekly schedule to be lost completely and the last Collaboration of the Week was posted months ago! However, collaborative consumption excites me far too much to simply abandon the idea so, with a bit of realistic thinking, it is back as a monthly post. I have already identified a good few months worth of inspiring businesses to highlight so if this is something that interests you keep checking back in. Now, onto this month’s collaboration!

EatWith – You’re Invited

Do you enjoy going out to a restaurant for a meal with friends? How about going over to a friend’s place for dinner and a few drinks? If you’re anything like me (and having an interest in collaborative consumption implies that, in a small way at least, you are) then you are quite fond of both. But, have you ever thought about doing both…at the same time? Combining the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of a dinner party at a mate’s house with the high-quality food and experience of eating out at a restaurant. Well, whether you have thought about it or not, EatWith gives you the chance to do just that.

"Waiter, more wine!"
“Waiter, more wine!”

The premise is really rather simple (as all collaborative consumption ideas seem to be). Aspiring chefs, or hobbyist cooks who simply enjoy having people over for dinner, create a listing for their dinner party on the EatWith website. The listing contains information on the type of food that will be served, how long the event will last for and even the “Host Style”, whether the host sits down to enjoy the meal with guests or simply prepares and serves the food – restaurant style. Of course there is also the usual background info on the host, rough location of the event and the price. Would-be diners simply search through local listings and book a space at a meal that appeals to them or, if the date doesn’t suit them, can suggest a date to the host.

Scanning through the listings for London, the meals available are as varied as the hosts. I was immediately drawn to the Halloween Southern Supper Club, a vegetarian, New Orleans French Quarter inspired, four course meal served in a “subterranean dining room”. The host, Natalie, is a Cordon Vert trained chef who is looking to serve the “most authentic soul food dishes you have ever tried.”. Another interesting listing is the Experience World Fusion meal hosted by Emily Amuke, a quarter-finalist on MasterChef in 2013. Emily sits down to enjoy the meal with her guests, making use of EatWith to combine her love of cooking with that of meeting people.

"A toast to collaborative consumption and good food!"
“A toast to collaborative consumption and good food!”

EatWith has been described as the “AirBnB of dining” and, with a growing number of listings, in 17 cities around the world, its appeal certainly seems to be increasing as people begin to embrace the experiences and opportunities that collaborative consumption are making available. As with almost the entire sharing economy at the moment, there are questions of regulation and safety standards surrounding EatWith. However, I suspect these will resolve themselves, in one way or another, as the sharing economy establishes itself. As long as people enjoy going out for a meal with friends or cooking up a storm for the enjoyment of others, services like EatWith, that make it easy to do so, are going to have a place in the world. So, next time you’re in the mood for an evening out with friends, why not give the restaurant a miss and see what someone in your local area is cooking up for dinner…?

An Announcement!

Oh yes, a real announcement, about something super exciting…! If you follow me on Twitter (which I’m sure you do…) you will have noticed that I have been tweeting a lot lately about something called the Disruptive Innovation Festival. The reason I have been tweeting about it so much is because it is going to be a fantastic event. Taking place over a full four weeks, it is an online festival where you can see content from, and interact with, world leading innovators and thinkers like Janine Benyus, Sir Ken Robinson and collaborative consumption pioneer Rachel Botsman.

Registration is completely free and gives you access to every second of video, webinar, Google Hangout and forum content that will be generated. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, just by signing up you have the chance of winning a pair of hospitality tickets to a Formula E race of your choice, a year’s subscription to Wired Magazine, a copy of Adobe Suite for a year and even more! The Festival starts tomorrow so don’t waste any time! See you there…

Jack of All Trades, Master of…

It has been a year. One full year.

Exactly one year ago I went to bed on the night before starting the first module of my master’s degree at Cranfield University. I shut off the light above the bed in my little campus bedroom and shut my eyes; full of excitement and nervousness for what the next day would bring. Orientation week was over, the team building activities completed. I had met the fellow peers who would be part of my course for the next 12 months. The hard work was about to begin.

And boy was it hard work! I’m not saying that I wasn’t expecting it, but postgraduate study is certainly no walk in the park. From the very first day we were accelerated to full speed and there was never a sign of slowing down. Split over three major phases: modules, a group project and an individual thesis, my taught master’s degree at the Centre for Design at Cranfield was a whirlwind of lectures, assignments, late nights working in the studio, long drives to company headquarters, an exam or two and, in the brief moments of respite, evenings lounging on bean bags watching Game of Thrones on the big screen. Having emerged (not entirely unscathed) on the other side it is great to look back at what a year it was.

The course itself was fantastic. MDes in Innovation and Creativity in Industry is quite a mouthful I must admit, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of the modules that make up the course (even though it may not have felt that way at 3am on a Sunday night trying to frantically complete the week’s assignment). A combination of design, engineering and management, the course covers a wide variety of subjects, from new product development and innovation management to smart materials and whole system design. Coming from an engineering background I revelled in every opportunity to get creative, throw together prototypes or develop a project management strategy for a simulated warehouse project.

Just casually testing UAV's in the studio.
Just casually testing UAV’s in the studio.

To call the group project phase of the course intense would be a rather massive understatement. It was all systems go from the minute the group met for the first time in mid-February to the final presentation day in early April. The project I was a part of involved working with industrial partners including Cisco, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems to explore the opportunities for a product information tracking system. Over the course of the project we travelled extensively, including visits to the BAE docks in Portsmouth and Rolls-Royce facility in Derby. We also typed a lot. Like a lot a lot. As exhausting as the project was, however, it was incredibly rewarding to work on a project of such interest to the industrial partners. We felt like the work we were doing was actually going to lead to something, rather than simply end up hidden in the depths of the library.

The final phase of the course is the individual thesis project, the four-month final stretch that leads to the completion of the course (and hopefully the awarding of a degree). As I have mentioned previously, my thesis project involved developing a vision for the future of the fast-moving consumer goods industry in a circular economy. As with the group project I was lucky enough to work closely with a number of the largest consumer goods companies in the world including Coca-Cola and Unilever. It was a little strange transitioning from the frantic, team atmosphere of the group project to the solitary effort of the thesis, but the four months raced by and, on a sunny Thursday afternoon four weeks ago, we stood behind our posters and presented our work for the last time. Master’s over.

The C4D bunch at the conclusion of the poster exhibition - photo courtesy of Mr Waleed Noaman (and his 41 megapixel cameraphone... ;)
The C4D bunch at the conclusion of the poster exhibition – photo courtesy of Mr Waleed Noaman (and his 41 megapixel cameraphone… 😉

The next day it was time to leave. To say goodbye to the friends we had made over the past 12 months. The C4D team of 2013/14 could not have been better. Hailing from all corners of the globe, speaking more languages than I have toes, they are just a great bunch of people and I am happy to have spent the year with them. Now we just need to plan the annual reunion, making sure to visit everybody’s home country…!

Now, as I have moved to the Isle of Wight to continue working on the transition to the circular economy, the words of the well-travelled hobbit, Bilbo Baggins come to mind…