TEDxBrighton

It’s always been my dream to speak at a TED conference. Second to that is actually getting to attend one… and this year, that dream came true at TEDxBrigton on October 28th 2016. The theme for this event was ‘We Can Be Heros’: a celebration of impact.

My top 2 talks were:

  1. Rory Sutherland – Rory is a change maker at Ogilvy. He gives fascinating talks on marketing, human psychology, and choice. This time he focused on the paradox of choice and wealth because we now live in an era where wealth doesn’t always come from having more products and services, but from having a better way to choose between different options. Read more about it here. 
  2. Sarah Giblin – Sarah was a commuter with a problem: with the backpack behind her, she constantly felt threatened by the people around her. After deliberating the design of backpacks, she realized… that maybe… just maybe, backpacks were designed the wrong way around! So, Sarah set out to design and manufacture a backpack that includes the zipper against the users back, rather than being exposed to the rest of the world. RIUT stands for Revolution In User-Thinking because she believes that as consumers, we all have the ability to solve the pain points we experience on a daily basis.

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Other interesting speakers that grabbed my attention:

  1. Beau Jessup – a 17-year old British Girl that has named over 250,000 Chinese Babies through her ‘Special Name’ website.
  2. Dave Perrins – A man who saw felt males were not properly trained to become fathers, so he created ‘The Dad Course’ (a relaxed environment meet-up to help first-time dads prepare for fatherhood and become more engaged, more confident and healthier fathers.
  3. Cat Fletcher – Cat gained national recognition when she sourced the materials for the University of Brighton’s award-winning Waste House, a two-story building constructed almost entirely of re-used waste materials.

VegFest London 2016

I should probably start by saying… I’m not a vegan (despite having been to two vegan festivals in different countries in October!) I do have a few close friends/flatmates that adhere to that lifestyle and I’m quite health-conscious and sustainability-minded. But my favourite thing about the vegan community is their innovative and inventive spirit. Plenty of small business owners I met today said, “no one was meeting my needs, so I decided to make it for myself and others.” Who knew you could make blue cheese from cashew nuts? Or filling tacos using jack fruit?

Here are my top discoveries from today’s adventure:

1 . Black Seaweed Pearls (aka Vegan Beluga Caviar) from Cavia.

caviar

2. Hazelnut & Carob Spread (tastes exactly like Nutella, but has only 3 ingredients) from Nutural World. 

3. Organic Chufa de Valencia Tiger Nuts from The Tigernut Company . What on earth is a tiger nut? That was my question as well! It’s not actually a nut, it’s a small root vegetable, grown in a field and harvested in pretty much the same way as a potato. Known in Spain as the ‘Chufa, it’s a super little tuber, nutrient dense and packed with superfood qualities.

4. Soap Nuts by Living Naturally. It’s the 100% natural hypoallergenic alternative to laundry detergent. Clothes also come out soft and fresh, so no need for scent boosters or fabric softeners!

And for the branding – I’ve added:

5. Pepo Papa Pumpkin Seed Oil. This product screams ‘OCTOBER!’ and Autumn. A Hungarian-founded company just starting to get distribution in the UK.

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TableCrowd Dinner – learning from DN Capital Investor

For this particular investor, the sweet spot for making investments was in series A for UK-based companies that were looking for amounts between 1 and 5 million pounds.
If you’re a start-up looking for an investment, he recommended asking yourself two fundamental questions:
  1. Do you even need to raise money? (Is there potential to scale? Can you realistically return a profit to your investors? Are you diluting your shares without a necessary purpose?)  
  2. What is the best source to raise money from?
There are many different groups to go after when raising money:
  1. Family and Friends
  2. Angel Investors
  3. Family offices that diversify from their main industry.
  4. Accelerators and incubators – who are used to helping start-ups
  5. Crowdfunding – good idea if you need user acquisition and have brand advocates
  6. Strategic Pots of Money – VCs within multinational corporations (like Unilever)
  7. Grants – R&D credits, government funds, etc.
Ways to think about each group:
  1. Amount they can give you varies (frame who you go after otherwise you’re wasting 95% of your time)
  2. Due diligence process is different for each group
  3. Terms – shareholding, join the board, have veto rights, etc.
  4. Value added. Crowdfunding adds marketing scale, VCs add more strategic vision and various business connections
  5. Time – how much can your investor commit to you? What if an angel investor has 200 companies?
  6. Speed – corporate and crowdfunding takes longer than a couple of months
  7. Return/Exit – What does success look like for your investor? Put it into context? How high is their bar?
 Our speaker also brought up two very good points:
  • Be very aware of the fact that raising and accepting external money sparks behaviour change. Companies typically shift its criteria, vision, scale, and business models when raising capital, which has an impact on the work culture.
  • 90% of the decision for Venture Capitalists is the TEAM – how passionate are the founders? Who have they decided to hire? Are they capable of executing their vision? Have they experienced and learned from past failures? Do they understand their product’s marketplace?
Another interesting dinner from Tablecrowd… if you’re in London, you should check us out! Who knows – I might be your host :)

The IRON Lady doesn’t feel…she thinks.

My fellow film studies classmate – Gianluca Baroni – sent me this film clip as inspiration today. Thank you GL.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that. And I think I am fine. 

Margaret Thacher (Character) Movie Quote

TableCrowd Business Dinners

What is Tablecrowd you ask? It’s a start-up founded by Kate Jackson in London that creates networking events around London based on specific topics. Watch the video for more information from Kate herself:

I’ve known Kate for over a year now and was delighted when she asked me to be a part of the  company. I’m now at the 3-month mark of being a dinner host for the company! And I’ve met everyone from Angel Investors to SEO experts to someone starting a company for hosiery subscriptions! If you live in London and enjoy sharing conversation over good food, check out the upcoming dinner:

https://www.tablecrowd.com 

#MeetandEat

MAFE…

… stands for ‘Mentor A Female Entrepreneur’. It’s a program that pairs managers and directors in our media agency with women who have founded a start-up. My inspiration for our opening session was Sheryl Sandberg:

“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”

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Our mission statement builds off this idea of leadership and raw conversation:

Create a prolonged authentic conversation between two women that are similar enough to relate, but different enough to inspire each other and fill knowledge gaps.

BREXIT.

Well that happened. 

As a Bulgarian – I got the right to free-movement working (without a visa) in January 2014. It’s been a great 2 and a half years of EU mobility for the United Kingdom, but I guess their fears have overcome their compassion. And this demonstrated the power of propaganda and proper advertising for political campaigns. And a catchy name #brexit

I may never understand what my parents experienced in their 20s when the Soviet Union fell and Bulgaria moved away from socialism to democracy (Hyperinflation, government corruption, and massive immigration changes). But I think this is starting to come close as I begin to experience to consequences of globalisation and the personal fears of living with political instability. I am disappointed, disturbed, and disillusioned by this ‘Leave’ vote.

In the last 5 years of living in the UK, I’ve experienced not only a 200% increase in student fees, but also massive changes to the EU regulations of free movement affecting immigrants in this country.

On the bright side, I’ve also seen London host the Olympic games, the Parliament legalise same sex marriage in England, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and the birth of two royal children. And I benefit from European initiatives such as ERASMUS. It’s been an amazing journey in this country (and I’m finally beginning to feel culturally assimilated), but we shall see where my story continues from here and how this Brexit vote affects London’s future.