From a mate …
It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a 100 euro note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the 100 euro note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the 100 euro note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the 100 euro note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the 100 euro note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the 100 euro note. The hotel proprietor then places the 100 euro note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the 100 euro note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.
And of course a post about the bailout would be incomplete without some good video satire!
I’ve now started up an official Carbon Voyage Blog which will have all of the press releases as well as some more informal bits and pieces about what the company is doing. Also, we’ve now set up groups on LinkedIn and Facebook so feel free to join!!!
We’re now a week into our beta launch and fortunately there have been no major problems with bookings thus far, and more importantly we’ve had some really good feedback about the website and ideas about the service which is something that you can only start getting once people are using the service.
Other than that, EYP launched in Dublin last week and following that, we have some terrific momentum going there. The team that is running with things there is absolutely fantastic, and we have an exciting next event coming up in April. Following our launch in Dublin, we are planning additional launches in three more European cities before the middle of the year – so lots of work to do!
And finally, if anyone is in London next Wednesday night, come along to our next EYP event.
Finally, after quite a lot of work in the last two years or so, Carbon Voyage finally launched. Our friends at Greenbang assisted in covering the event. The strapline of the business is ‘getting you from a to b without costing the earth.’ What we are doing is providing a car-booking service that helps people to cut the cost and carbon footprint of using private car hire.
If anyone is keen to trial the beta service should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This has been a big week for EYP. We had our monthly event at Zebrano, just near Carnaby St and somewhere just shy of 200 people in attendence. As per normal we did a few speed networking sessions which worked really well. Tonight we had our committee meeting, and were fortunately joined by our good friend Andy Lopata. Andy is always full of great ideas and we have some exciting things coming up in the next few months. Our next event will be a big one, and done with Make Your Mark as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. It will be in London on the evening of 18 November 2008.
I am continuing to play around with the various social networks and tools that exist. There was an interesting breakfast at WidgetWebExpo put on by KickApps and Clearspring. Clearspring do some very cool stuff with widgets – and with some things we are doing with EYP, widgets are about to get very important for us. Fortunately I have found a good widget blog – and more importantly a widget competition so I can get some money :p There are probably going to be some weird widgets appearing on the various social networking sites I use over the next week or two while I learn how to use them, so apologies in advance.
My sister and I listened to the video I posted a few days ago. It was hilarious of course, but again quite shocking that it was done a year ago or so. I discovered that the video has actually got a lot of attention, but one of the original posts is here and here. And just to add to the mix, another one from Bird and Fortune – again from a long time ago and also very spot on.
EYP is going through a big growth period at the moment and some of the exciting work is around establishing relationships with corporate sponsors (which was a discussion point in the recent Make Your Mark get together). We are presently finalising deals with two big companies here in London and the experience has taught me some interesting lessons which I thought I might share.
Sponsorship perhaps implies a one-way relationship where the sponsor is providing support one way. EYP has certainly had support like this in the past, but I don’t see that sponsorship is necessarily the right thing anymore. What is important (particularly with all the belt tightening going around) is the establishment of a relationship that provides value for both parties. In both instances, the relationships are not about EYP getting a bunch of money for an evening function, but building up a relationship over time where we support each other. Instead of being corporate sponsors, these two organisations are very much becoming corporate partners. Rather than spending the sponsorship money in one hit, we can provide benefits for our members over a long period of time which gives membership a degree of value, and at the same time, our corporate partners get support from our members (a nice arrangement). Through these relationships and our own networks, there is a great opportunity pipeline for other corporate partnerships to be built, which drives value for our members.
In some respects, this is no different to one of my personal guiding principles in networking, and that a great network is one where you bring value to the members of your network and for that to be reciprocated.
We have a really exciting event coming up in June where we are going to do a workshop with one of our corporate partners. They have some products from Eastern Europe that are new to the UK market; in a fun workshop environment, we will be coming up with some ideas about how best to promote these products in this market. This is a great way to use the diversity of our organisation (in terms of different skills and experiences, and different nationalities) to achieve some tangible business outcomes. When appropriate I will say a bit more about it, but it is really going to be fun :p
I thought that I should try and make sure that I post again given the length of time between posts (at least it is only a month this time). The last month has absolutely flown by. GoLow is now starting to really take shape as a business which is very pleasing to see. Yesterday, I was at a conference hosted at the Said Business School on Climate Change. The opening speech was by Sir David King talking about the threat of climate change, and it was perhaps the most compelling speech that I had heard about this issue. One of our ‘sister’ companies used this as a bit of a launch event – check out 2Degrees. Oxford University is establishing a really exciting organisation called the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment which should provide great opportunities for identifying how business can address the issues of sustainability and climate change.
The other big exciting thing that I am involved with at the moment is European Young Professionals. This is a great organisation, and I am incredibly fortunate to be the CEO and closely involved in seeing it evolve. EYP has quite a lot of members (i.e. thousands) in Bangkok and London and events are run in both locations around 9-10 times a year. We are working on our strategic plan for the next few years, which is almost complete, and we have some really great relationships starting up with other social enterprise ventures and some corporate partners. I am getting involved in speaking at a few events at the moment; last week I spoke at a Make Your Mark event about EYP and it was really exciting to see some of the enterprising activities that are taking place around the UK. Next week, I have been kindly invited to speak at an event in London for the Network of Entrepreneurial Talent, on a boat on the Thames no less! It should be really fun.
I have been rather slack with posting on my blog; however for the last nine months almost, I have been working on a fantastic new venture in the United Kingdom that addresses some of the environmental problems that exist here in the transport industry while not burdening users with additional costs. We have just finished getting the seed funding sorted out for the business as well as commencing business development work, so it is great to finally be at this stage. Now that I have run a number of ventures, I think I might start posting some things about my experiences and pointers for other entrepreneurs.
The new business is called GoLow and exists to provide an environmentally friendly and economically efficient way to use taxis and other private hire vehicles (limos, mini cabs etc). It is quite amazing how much money is spent on these in the UK; and also very shocking to see how much these vehicles are under-utilised (they are generally empty about 50% of the time), which creates needless pollution and cost for everyone concerned.
It is my first environmentally-related business and it is good to be involved in something positive that seeks to deal with some of the significant challenges that exist. Most importantly for me, it is something that can contribute in a tangible manner, as there is a lot of hot air (no pun intended) with talk that goes around about ways to save the environment.
Anyway, I will post more about this new venture in coming weeks as we move through the next stages of what we are doing!