We have some technology!

So we now have our technology platform up for GoLow – there are still bits to do, but I suppose that anyone with a technology related business needs to be ready for changes and amendments. At least it means that we can still do a beta trial very soon. This will hopefully assist in our continuing fund raising efforts which all start ups go through. There was an amusing article this week that I was sent about a “green gold rush”, so it would be nice to see some of the money spoken about to go into a good home. The guys at Greenbang also covered this, although I don’t quite share their concern about Eastenders!

The rising price of oil should also assist – something which I believe is that given that oil prices are going up, transport services must either become more efficient or raise costs. The latter option is particularly difficult given the macro-economic conditions that exist at the moment, so I see a great opportunity as we are positioned to provide an answer that involves improved efficiencies. Part of the proposition is around improving fuel efficiency in vehicles which can provide significant savings and critically be far cheaper than not implementing solutions that generate efficiencies. A good friend has a large fleet of vehicles and in the last twelve months, his weekly fuel cost per vehicle has increased from around £180 per week to over £300 per week. In his case, putting in place a strategy to create efficiencies could provide an overall net saving of £50 per vehicle per week.

In the last few weeks I have started to travel all over the UK far more than previously and one of the interesting things to realise is that the choice of using public transport (particularly trains) can be immensely expensive. It is almost to the point of making car travel more economical and potentially take less time as well. It is a shame that the better environmental option is such a big cost as it doesn’t help in trying to move people into using better forms of transport.

I am involved in a green networking event on Wednesday and am chairing a round table discussion on low carbon transport which should be rather interesting (as long as I do some good preparation for it)! I have set the following topics for discussion – hopefully there might be some interesting points that I can share on here afterwards.

Emerging Trends in Transport Usage
Transport is a significant, and growing, contributor to Greenhouse Gas emissions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Economic conditions combined with environmental/ sustainability issues and government policy have created a situation where the way in which people use transport will need to shift.
• What are the existing barriers to this occurring and how can they be addressed?
• What easy wins exist within the transport sector?
• Have issues such as the use of bio-fuels and carbon offsetting negatively impacted on sustainability goals? Are there any other potential areas for similar concern?

Present corporate accounting standards for transport related emissions do not necessarily reflect actual emissions (particularly in terms of Scope 3 emissions). Is this a fair criticism?
• What should and shouldn’t be reported?
• How granular should reporting be – vehicle emissions, embodied energy etc?

And finally, EYP is gearing up for our next event which will be on the Queen Mary, which is moored alongside at Victoria Embankment which should be lots of fun. If any of you are in London, please feel free to come along (although you should register first)! We have just got on Twitter (and so have I actually), so we are experiencing the twitter phenomenon.

End of June and Exciting Times ahead in July

Yet again, I realise that it has been way too long since my last post…

Our event with Firebird and the Moldovan Embassy went well (almost sounds like the name of a Harry Potter book), although to be honest, we had a few too many people there. It had been a slightly tough issue as we had initially planned for 50 maximum, but in the end we had over 150 at the event.

The EYP team at the Moldovan Wine EventHere is a great picture of our team (or rather part of it) with David from HBJ Wines, our corporate wine partner, and Gheorghe, the First Consul of the Moldovan Embassy. I was really pleasantly surprised with the wine and actually used the Firebird Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at an army function on Friday night and it was very well received.

On Sunday, the team got together to start finalising our strategic plan for the next year and beyond, which should see EYP expand beyond the UK (and Thailand) into other countries. It is very much like a start up business (or perhaps a start up social enterprise), and what we are doing in London is the concept demonstration of what we want to roll out elsewhere. We have now finalised our venue for our July get together which should be lots of fun (it has a nautical element to it)…

On the evening of 18 June, I went along to the first birthday of Greenbang, which is a very cool news site focused on environmental business and technology. It was a fantastic evening and there were a lot of cool people there; the readership also has a great number of entrepreneurs in it so it is particularly encouraging to see the innovative approaches people are taking to solving some of the big environmental and sustainability issues that we face around the world. It is always interesting to consider the new business ‘environment’ that I am in which has a heavy environment focus (pardon the pun). As a military, conservative voting, capitalist type of person, there may be some sense that I am now doing something that is rather incongruous with my persona. Some of the military blogs I read are certainly dismissive of the environment – however I think that it is a dire error on behalf of military people to ignore the potential environmental issues that the world faces. Whether it is a humanitarian crisis due to starvation or flooding, or indeed a need to secure natural resources, there are a large number of scenarios where military force will be involved in environmental concerns in coming years. And I also sense that it is business that really is showing the way in terms of finding ways to become more sustainable (and I think this is borne out by evidence as well).

The Firebirds of June and other things

So, I have been a little slack in posting recently although there have been a range of rather interesting things I had hoped to post about.

European Young Professionals is moving into a really interesting phase of life at the moment. Next week we are holding our monthly event and I think it marks a transition into a bigger, bolder set of functions for our members. We are doing a wine tasting with our corporate wine partners, HBJ Wines of Firebird, the most successful Moldovan wine to enter the UK market. The Moldovan Embassy here in the UK is even taking part which is great news. And TM Lewin is also joining the fray as another corporate partner which is also nice. As an organisation that regularly gets 150 to an event, it is interesting to note that it is far better subscribed than most networking organisations I see around the traps. It is starting to take up quite a bit of time, so it is nice to see that we have a few more people joining our committee :p

On a more serious note, the Renewable Energy Foundation released a report last week that I had the privilege to read about a month ago before it was sent out. It discusses the UK electricity industry between now and 2020 and highlights some very concerning trends and potential scenarios. There are some clear problems existing in this industry in terms of supply. It can be downloaded here and is certainly worth a read, particularly in terms of putting the debate for renewable energy in a context of the UK’s electricity needs and the associated costs. I will be going to the Micropower Council dinner on Wednesday night which should be very interesting as well.

Social Networks and Corporate Sponsorship

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