Twitter + Festival + Bristol = Bristwestival


Ok, perhaps one word mangle that’ll never make it into the OED but Twestivals are taking over. At least until 12 Feb.

Organised out of London (who says Brits and Europeans don’t “get” twitter) and with a global network within days, if not hours this is a fantastic demonstration of something that simply couldn’t happen this big, this fast even 2 years ago.

Dan Martin from is coordinating the Bristol contribution with very kind support and sponsorship from Sift where Business Zone is one of stable of great online magazines & services.

I helped out in my usual small way with the planning and connecting of people but thought I should also make a more definitive contribution and put my reputation where my mouth is. So I’ve thrown my metaphorical hat in the raffle with a voucher for 1 days consultancy (or 2 half days depending on what is more suitable) from me.

It is kind of exciting, not knowing who will win and what business challenges they’ll have. I just hope I can make a positive contribution.

If you haven’t signed up, please do, Bristwestival looks like being a great evening at the new Lanes Bowling Ally. Lots going on until the wee-small hours and all proceeds are going to charity mate. Actually they’re going to Charity:water so that’s nice also.

Fresh Coffee @ OpenCoffee:Bristol

Uploaded on November 6, 2006 by a href=
Uploaded on November 6, 2006 by Luis Alves

Bit slow off the mark on this post but it’s been a busy couple of days.

We had a really good morning on Tuesday with new faces and new coffee to try. Jack had popped up from the Temple Meads branch of Starbucks to mix some fresh brew for us using their Organic Ethiopian blend together with some cinnamon pastries to bring out the spicy aroma and flavours. We hope to have Jack back with his coffee tasting table.

Over the fresh coffee a couple of new faces joined the familiar ones. A twitter link brought Rick Hurst along for the first time. We also welcomed Jamie Dyer all the way from Plymouth and only just back from Canada, kudos! Just as I was leaving I saw Jamie and Mark Paney deep in discussion and it sounds like there could be another partnership arising from OpenCoffee, great stuff!

It was also good to see Peter Livingston, Tom O’Neil and Nick Sturge along providing the professional business services side of things.

Joel Huges was also along having developed his platform but missed the Seedcamp deadline. Have to see if there is a business development / funding opportunity there, hopefully there’ll be something to demo shortly.

Chris Garrett & Craig Hellen from BexMedia were along as was Rachel Carney; apologies to anyone I missed.

The next OpenCoffee will be on 26 August, from 8.30am at Starbucks on Park St as usual. See you there.

What’s the BizIdea?

[Disclosure: I attended in my role as Flagship Initiative Adviser for Knowledge West, we have the Knowledge West Enterprise Awards, which brings together competitors from the 6 University Business Plan competitions in the area. However, I’m not on that judging panel, nor this one, and my views here are not those of Knowledge West.]

After the introductions and thank yous, the keynote was Adam Goodyer (co-founder of Concert Live, UWE graduate & HSBC 2007 Start-Up Stars winner). Adam gave a barn storming keynote, with a mix of humour, humility and insight into how they’d grown and overcome early adversity. Concert Live basically record gigs live, mix them to CD, burn them and then sell to the crowd just as they’re leaving the gig. Following early success (they secured an early contract to cover The Levellers gig tour) they hit a dry patch where the industry wouldn’t touch them because their business model was perceived as potentially competitive to the core business of shifting CD singles.

Adam used Porter’s 5 Forces to identity the dominant force in the market (major label’s fear of losing sales & chart positions) that was overcoming a strong customer force (people love buying CD’s of the actual gig they attended) and figured out how to flip the forces in their favour. By setting up a secure chart transaction system to sell singles at the gig, they could bundle a couple of singles mixes in with the live CD. That was a bonus to the customers (they basically got 2 albums for the price of one) and a huge bonus to the Labels (each single mix counts as a separate chart sale). They could then go to the major labels and say that by giving Concert Live a license, their artist would shoot up the chart with every concert, genius!

Adam then admitted that they hadn’t actually sat down with Porter’s diagram and worked it out, but the process did accurately describe what they’d down and how they’d identified the dominant players and the blockage that needed to be cleared.

Next up was Patrick Dasoberi (Student Community Portal System & 2007 BizIdea winner). Patrick’s idea, as submitted to the 2007competition, had evolved significantly into the business he’s now running, though the core vision is the same: helping temporary international residents find their way in a new country. Patrick’s initial focus was on the student population but he’s now working with a wide range of organisations that send people around the globe to work in communities.

What was really interesting was that the software developed to do this (Whahala), is to be provided as a white label solution for other organisations that want to establish their own international support network. Very cool!

Claire Foster (Superjuice) – discovered smoothies and juice bars when on her travels in Australia. When she came back to the UK it proved really difficult to get the same idea of the ground here. So she went to London and talked to everyone in the juice/smoothie business (being from Somerset she wasn’t perceived as a threat). She went down into the far South West and worked a couple days for free to learn the business. She then landed some Business Link support, Princes Trust support (links to page with video) and things began to take off. She’s now purveying to the rich and famous (well Prince Charles at least) and building her brand. The immediate expansion plans are into the new Bristol Broadmead development.

Last up on the Keynotes was Sally Lincon (co-founder Nomensa). Sally described their journey of building a digital design and usability company, along with some highs & lows.The common thread with all the presentations was that every day was different and they all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of running their own businesses.

Competition Winners

The winner of the Best Business Idea was Carolyn (Chief Whale of Whale Bags), eco-shopping bags made of 100% cotton/calico that fold neatly into a small pocket that’s part of the bag. We didn’t get to see the business plan but the idea is a really good one, and very topical with the Zeitgeist of recycling and reusing shopping bags.
The runner up was Magee Private Investigator, a criminal law student that setting up her own PI business. The gap in the market being that soon PI’s will have to be licensed (they aren’t at the moment), with her law background Magee thinks she’s got a differentiator.

The winner of the Best Social Enterprise Idea was the Bristol Festival Community Group a collection of volunteers, with a wide range of backgrounds, interests and ages, who have come together to plan a community-based festival for September 2008 following the sad demise of the Bristol Community Festival at Ashton Court. The runner up was Vscheme a volunteering management scheme for individuals and organisations.

In the Best Creative Design Idea, the winner was Five on One (can’t find a website) with a DVD magazine showcase five aspects of Bristol social and cultural scene, given away alongside Venue magazine and funded through advertising. The runner-up was Basic Baroques, providing everyone with the elements to make their own baroque styled interior.

[I’ll try and get more links and logos as people launch their websites]

Open Coffee good in Bristol

Uploaded by suresh_gundappa on
17 Aug 06, 9.27AM BST.

The nominal theme for this morning’s Open Coffee was ‘articulating your message’, or the art of the elevator pitch. Without wishing to do anyone (including myself) out of a job – go to this blog post and read it.  Actually might as well read the whole site if you’re looking at the investor path.

Having suggested that Matt from Montage Communications might get the ball rolling with a few pithy words on communicating complex ideas in compact spaces, by the time I got downstairs at Starbucks on Park St, the conversation was in full flow!

With roughly 2:1 entrepreneurs to business support professionals there was plenty of discussion and swapping of business cards. Everyone I spoke to had met someone new and interesting.

My new connection was with Rob Cox, launching a new motivational and self belief workshop and mentoring service for kids to “Dream, Believe, Achieve“.

Thanks go to Hannah at Montage Communications for handling the coordination with Starbucks and to Rosie (Interim Store Manager, Starbucks) for keeping the (free) coffee and cakes flowing.

The next Open Coffee is on 20 May, same Starbucks on Park St., please sign up or leave a comment here so that Rosie can order in enough fresh muffins! 🙂

Open Coffee launch details


I mentioned earlier on Twitter that I was hoping to confirm some additional support for Open Coffee, well Starbucks are getting behind us and offering free coffee, free muffins and free WiFi to attendees of Open Coffee at 9am Tuesday, 6 May.

We’ll be downstairs at the Starbucks on Park Street (map).

Kick off will be from 9am but some folks will be there before and you’re obviously welcome to stay as long as you like. Rosie (the interim Store Manager) has offered free coffee until 11am.

Hopefully this will be a long term partnership for digital companies in Bristol. The next 3 Open Coffee meetings are already scheduled in for 20 May, 3 June and 17 June.

All the details are on the Upcoming group, I’ll be talking about them here and on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else that folks will be checking out. I’m also hoping to get notes put in BEN event announcements, Creative Technology Network, Bristol Media, Business Link, etc. The purpose is to give those companies (or start-ups) that are building growth businesses in digital software, services or media have an additional physical network to augment their online networks and wider business support services.

See you there!

Venue announced for Open Coffee Bristol

Great news; Open Coffee has a home. We’ll be meeting downstairs in the Starbucks on Park St (picture to the right should take you to the Google map unless I’ve mangled the html {quite possible}).

Check out the Upcoming group for details; or turn up from around 9am.

At the moment there are four coffee’s planned:

  • 6 May – Articulating your idea
  • 20 May – Do you know your addressable market
  • 3 June – Finance and money, how much do you need and how are you going to get it
  • 17 June – Entrepreneurial team and advisor networks

Remember, these are only themes to get folks talking; if you have another question that’s vexing your start-up please come along and we’ll try and connect you up with someone who knows.

Stay tuned for more posts as things develop…

(re)Open(ed) Coffee

6 May 2008, at the moment this is looking good for the relaunch of Open Coffee in Bristol. I’m still waiting on confirmation for a venue (and some free coffee as part of the deal) but it’ll be central Bristol.

I’ve decided on a morning mainly because the focus is on networking around business development and entrepreneurship and I think that works better at the start of the day than at the end with a beer. Most of the Open Coffee clubs around the world meet in the morning and I’m sure there are plenty of people there smarter than me in organising network events. There will be evening social dinners to cement the networks but part of the focus is on discussing the business of doing business, and how to build innovative digital businesses in Bristol.

The rough schedule of 4 meetings over 2 months, followed by an evening dinner, shake, rinse, repeat; seems to be going down well with everyone I’ve spoken to. The current topic outline is:

  • Explaining your idea; convince just one other evangelist and you’re well on your way (articulating your idea in 140 characters or less)=139
  • Addressable market – who are the people that actually want your product / service, are they who you think they are? Perhaps talking over coffee with other entrepreneurs will open new market ideas, or give you research leads on building your business plan / invement proposal.
  • Financial instruments – how are you raising / going to raise, the cash to build your product. Even with Google BigTable / Amazon EC3/S3 you still need some cash. Angel, VC, SFLG, FFF, Credit Cards, remortgage, what are your decisions, options and how are others finding cash?
  • No “I” in Team; but there is a me – I love that bit of team building bumff “There’s no ‘I’ in Team”: there’s no f’in team either but you don’t tend to hear that one from the managment coaches so much – as a start up entrepreneur you probably are the team, even when you build an executive support squad, most investors say they’re investing in the founder. So how are you / should you build a support team around you and who’s in it?

At each morning I’m going to try and make sure that there are some professional in the crowd but the idea is to network and discuss in generalities to inform your decisions. Feel free to let the folks you know and work with that this is going on (it is Open Coffee after all).

More details as they settle down.