Making an Impact in Brixton

by Julian Jackson

impact hubImpact Hub is a global network of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Started in Islington ten years ago, Brixton is the latest hub to go live. Down in the bowels of Lambeth Town Hall, the hub opened its doors in May of this year, and now has 70 members. It held an Open Day on Friday. Around the lunch table, as my tastebuds were being stimulated by spicy Ghanain cuisine, I saw the synergy of the hub in action. Kitchen Table Projects explained that they were a kind of accelerator for exciting new food products, but they hadn’t found premises yet. Three of the open day visitors were property consultants and they started a dialogue with KTC’s Tara and Nicky on how they could leverage short term renting of retail property in Brixton to get their project off the ground.

The hubbers are a disparate bunch. Lambeth Council provides the space, and a light-touch management, but keeps its hands off. Collaboration is the name of the game. The hub is about to launch its own internal social network, so people can exchange skills and ideas online as well as in person.

Enter the Brixton Pound. This is one of the most successful alternative currencies in the UK. Tom Shakhli, engagement manager of Brixton Pound explained how a local currency stays local, thus benefitting local businesses. It has stimulated the Brixton economy since 2009 and its physical notes have become collectors’ pieces after David Bowie endorsed it. It can also buy local food, coffee and even Brixton Brewery Beer. The council allows you to pay your business rates in Brixton pounds. Most of the transactions use the ecurrency rather than physical pounds.

brixton poundThe Hub’s day to day operations are in the hands of startup director Kristina Glushkova, who also runs a group called Makerhood, which sells locally made art, beauty products, food, homeware, jewellery and other artisan-made items. Lambeth is cutting its number of offices from 14 to 2 so the idea of partnering with Impact Hub made sense. Lambeth Enterprise Manager Gail Rowe says, “Whenever we asked local entrepreneurs what they needed most, the answer came back, “affordable premises”, so we decided to make use of this underused space in the basement.” Basement conjures up a gloomy image, but the area is bright and filled with hot desks, a meeting space, and a tiny garden area.

Kitchen Table Projects, run by founder Tara Sundramoorthi and Marketing Executive Nicky Skinner, has a plan to take innovative food products, give them an opportunity to reach the public in a combined retail outlet and cafe. Tara says, “Tech entrepreneurs have lots of support and opportunities, but people with new food concepts are not so well served. They are usually one person in a kitchen, and we want to nurture them so they come to the marketplace.”

Another of the projects is Africa business intelligence service TrendType, run by Ben Longman. He specifically joined the hub so he could be in a “work-type environment” surrounded by other people. He is used to working in an office, and with his new project, he didn’t want to be isolated at home. TrendType analyses the consumer markets of Africa, making sense of poor or contradictory information, then selling reports or subscriptions to business customers. Ben realised there was a niche available in the marketplace as most people couldn’t name the 54 countries in Africa, let alone know what age women get married at in Ghana (for your information, it’s either 19.7 years, or 21.4 – Ben hasn’t yet reconciled two different databases). He relies on collating published information, but is also building up a network of specialist researchers in Africa. As Africa becomes more wealthy, there is be a need for businesses looking to export to these countries to have quality data which Ben can provide.

impact hub2Duncan Law of Transition Town Brixton was there. He is mentoring local entrepreneurs and putting together frameworks for local businesses or tradespeople to collaborate for mutual advantage. The idea is to back local entrepreneurs to reinvigorate the Brixton economy. “We are building support networks to enable businesses to solve common problems and synergise their connections and energy.”

Gail Rowe exlained that Lambeth had a remarkable amount of talent and ideas, and that the objective of the Impact Hub was to give them the space and support to realise those ideas. There’s a feeling of laid-back energy about the place, if that makes any sense. If the other 50 or so members have the same dynamism and commitment as the 20 or so people who were at the open day, then it should come up with some exciting new products and services – and this is just one of the 54 Impact Hubs worldwide.

Kentish Cluster: North London’s answer to the Shoreditch meet-up phenomenon?

asasembly roomsRiding the no. 46 single decker bus that skirts the edges of Hampstead Heath as it makes its way from Maida Vale to Kentish Town feels like taking a trip through Trumpton, even during rush hour! There’s sensible folk everywhere, going about their daily business, and to be honest, that’s kind of what I expect from North London; it’s where all the rich people live, after all, right?

Home Flood prevention solution Hydroguard launches rewards based funding campaign on Indiegogo

hydroguard newNow that the hot weather is over it is time to start worrying about being frozen and flooded. Excuse the cynicism, but given our government’s recent record of response to crises of an environmental nature it seems we would do well to take as much personal responsibility as we can.

How Do You Disrupt The Legal Industry? Offer Value The Big Firms Can’t Match

daniel2What’s the best way to stop yourself doing something? Try consulting a lawyer. By the time they have finished outlining the risks involved in your plans, and quoted you a price, you will have tears in your eyes and a large hole in your pocket.
Or so the story goes. What is certain is that large legal firms are not set up to cater for the needs of start-up businesses. They do have a tendency, however, to attract and then horde all of the top legal talent. Until now. The legal industry is ripe for disruption, and one ex-insider has set out to prove it.

Silicon Round-up: Amazon moves to Liverpool Street, Facebook tries to tell the truth, servitude is back in vogue!

U2The big news this week is the much heralded and talked about launch of Apple’s new app for removing that annoying U2 album that was automatically sent to more than half a billion iTunes users worldwide. The band performed at the close of the iPhone6 and Smartwatch launch, and their new album “songs of innocence” was felt by Apple to be the perfect gift to its fanbase. It turns out a more popular gift is the dedicated page the Company has now set up to help people remove the songs.

Better living through Coaching; shared experiences and empowerment tips

By Thursday, September 18, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

happinessA fantastic opportunity to hear from 2 leading Life Coaches and 2 businesswomen with inspiring and incredible life stories. They will share their tips for making the most out of life, especially as an entrepreneur, and how to feel empowered and confident in your decision-making. If you’re looking to get inspired to make some changes in your life, or to take your career/business to the next level, then this event is for you. It will take on Tues 23rd September at Fairly Square Bar & Cafe.

Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers storm Google Campus!

rob fentonGoogle Campus is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. If Robert Fenton, founder of the Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers website and talent impresario a la Simon Cowell, were a piece of confectionary, I think he would be a dime bar. Delicious sweet chocolate on the outside, gnarly toffee on the inside, helping you cut your teeth. High praise indeed. To put that into context, Cowell himself is probably only a Milky Way.

Launchpad Labs mentor Leonardo Zangrando discusses “pretotyping”, and how an incubator can also be a social enterprise

launchpad labsLaunchPad labs is an incubator with a difference. First of all, it’s a registered charity, a not for profit social enterprise. But it also has a lot in common with some of the best incubators; it has great mentors, has attracted some top talent, and it’s pushing the envelope when it comes to developing the techniques and expertise required to produce healthy, happy and successful start-up companies with long term sustainability.

We’re All Marketers Now: The Growing Power Of Social Media And Search Marketing

Matt Wheeler of Driftrock

Matt Wheeler of Driftrock

Digital marketing is a science. We should all have realised by now that in the world of online, nothing happens by chance. Every GIF, Vine, video or comment that we see is most likely the result of somebody somewhere’s social media marketing strategy.

Bamboo Auctions founder Robin Rathore eats, shoots from the hip and leaves

bamboo auctionsRobin Rathore is a man you can shoot the breeze with. When I arrive at Hoxton Hotel after a feisty luncheon at Bone Daddies in Mayfair, he is sat in what suddenly looks like the most comfortable chair in the room. I am almost surprised not to see a member of staff lighting his cigar for him and passing him his slippers. Robin is at home in his surroundings.

Start-up Storm goes Omnichannel

by Julian Jackson

fintech2Internet impresario Arifa Khan is a fan of GAAP. No, not the American clothing company. GAAP. She defines it as Google, Amazon, Apple, and PayPal, “The Behemoths that rule the internet.” She says they dominate our online lives and are more trusted than other brands. This was how she introduced the latest FinTech Start-up Storm Meetup event – which brings together financial startups and investors in the informal surroundings of Google Campus near Old Street in the heart of London’s tech city.

Jeanne Le Roux talks about why start-ups need a properly defined HR strategy

Jeanne portrait dec 2013

Jeanne Le Roux founder of JLR People Solutions

Jeanne Le Roux holds a Master’s degree in finance, insurance and banking, but it’s fair to say that for her, the reality of working life in the many of the places she has studied often failed to match up to the theories about what makes a productive HR environment.

The Secret Lives Of Entrepreneurs: Pushing The Boundaries Of The Work Life Balance

By Thursday, August 7, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0
image courtesy of

image courtesy of

If money never sleeps, then those of us who spend our days chasing the filthy lucre should not expect the work life balance to redress itself any time soon, and the curse of it is, the more successful you are, the less downtime you have.

Some of us, however, are blessed with unusually plentiful reserves of energy, and more often than not these are the kind of people who find themselves climbing towards the top of both the social and work ladders.