Monday, 22 December 2008

The Earth Awards Want Us! ... In New York!

I have just received confirmation that we're one of 10 finalists in The Earth Awards.

The Earth Awards launched as "a global search for future-crucial design solutions that will improve our collective social, cultural, economic and ecological quality of life."

This is an incredibly significant award and I can't quite believe the opportunity it presents:
"All finalists will be flown to New York City for an Awards Ceremony Gala on January 12th, 2009, where the first prize winner will be announced. The winner will receive a monetary prize, and all finalists will receive the opportunity to pitch their ideas to industry leaders including venture capitalists, industrialists, and Fortune 500 business leaders."


More info:
The Awards
The Judges

Friday, 19 December 2008

Doug Richard's "School for Start Ups"

If mass media hasn't taken the opportunity to remind you yet today, let me.
We are in the grips of economic disaster.
Shops are closing, jobs vanishing, bankruptcy is stalking us all and they tell us no sector is safe. With newspaper headlines reading more like the tag lines from an (admittedly very boring) US disaster movie by the day, anyone who knows anything about the economic climate is being dragged onto talk shows, begged to fill newspaper columns and guesting on local radio question time.

Understanding economics has never been so sexy.

And yet, lets face it, it still ... isn't.

This makes it all the more significant that James and I both dragged our flu-ravaged selves, pockets stuffed with Lemsip sachets, out into the freezing rain and it into town for 8:30am and knowingly and willingly spent the whole day learning about 'Entrepreneurial Economics'.

Run by former BBC2 Dragon, Doug Richard, we think getting yourself a place at a School for Start Ups event is a is a must-do for all young companies and aspiring entrepreneurs. Doug has stood in the shoes of both investor and investee, and by his own admission has had great successes and failures in both. He is also a professional speaker (incidentally he had also been the guest speaker at the previous night's John Logie Baird Awards*) and it shows in the ease with which he expresses complex ideas, throws in snippets of his vast personal experience and completely charms the audience

It was useful, engaging and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

So go here and sign up to attend, it may well be available free of change (depending on your situation). If there isn't one local to you - travel to it. Especially if you're not paying to attend. Make the effort to go, you (and the crumbling economy) will be glad you did.

* and quite frankly saved the show, but that's another story!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

John Logie Baird “Young Innovators” Award 2008

Red Button Design narrowly missed out on the top spot of the John Logie Baird “Young Innovators” Award 2008, receiving a second place commendation after making it into the final 5 from over 350 businesses.

Isabell Majewsky, chief executive of organisers GO Group, said: “The Awards aim to identify innovators as well as discovering the next generation of John Logie Bairds. We can then give them the help and support they need to bring their products to market.”

John Logie Baird, of course, dedicated most of his adult life to creating the television and the awards in his name were presented to the most innovative projects with the best prospects of commercial success. Fraser Docherty of SuperJam fame scooped the first place prize demonstrating his prospects of commercial success by already having his innovative 'no added sugar' Jam stocked in Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco!

John Logie Baird Awards

Monday, 8 December 2008

In a credit crunch, can you afford not to know?

Every academic year, over 120,000 of the brightest students in the UK take part in some form of work placement. Infact many students are now opting for degree courses which allow them to spend their third year in employment. In an insecure economic climate graduates are looking to work experience to differentiate themselves from the pack.

But as a student how can you tell a placement that will inspire you and develop key industry skills, from a placement that will just refine your tea and coffee making abilities?

As an employer how can you tell if you're providing the best experience possible to these bright, enthusiastic potential-employees?

That's where Rate My Placement come in. is the UK’s leading website dedicated to work placements and internships. The website contains over 1,000 student written reviews covering their experiences in work placements and internships. Students are required to rate and review their employer over 15 questions on their role, the company and other aspects including outside of work opportunities and activities.

For my part, James and I met the fantastic RMP team during the finals of the HSBC Unipreneurs Competition. back in the spring. The four guys behind the website are recent graduates themselves and originally created the site for the benefit of their friends and coursemates at Loughborough University. But like the ledgend that is Facebook, they took the opportunity to make the site available to all.

So if you're considering a placement, (and why wouldn't you given all the benefits?) get yourself over to Rate My and find out which companies can offer you the most in return for your time.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Amanda & James BOTH make "Future 500"

It may be -3°C outside but I was at the news agents when it opened this morning for my copy of The Observer and the Future 500 supplement* it contains, weren't you?

Now if you consult your paper copy, James and I not only made it on to the prestigious "Future 500" list but we made Top 10 in the "Science and Innovation" category, and Top 100 cross-sector. None to shabby but not the end of it, oh no!

If you consult the official list you will find that James and I were both accepted onto the list as individuals in different categories (it is a list for individuals and not companies after all) James merited inclusion in the "Science and Innovation" category, as listed in print. I got my own entry in the "Media" category.

Amazingly we both made "Top 10" in our respective categories!
So Red Button Design technically occupy 2 of the top 100 places! Talk about a good team!

*The supplement is entitled "Generation Next" and our names appear on pg 24 (we're 7th to be listed)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

"Future 500" Named in this Sunday's Observer!

Courvoisier has launched The Future 500. In its words "a definitive list of the nation’s most forward-thinking and brightest young innovators" all of whom will, this weekend, be welcomed into a members only network which recognises and promotes success. This network will "fast track the future of 500 individuals, uniting their spirit and determination to get ahead by launching them into the public consciousness and connecting them through a bespoke online community"

Back in May, The Observer Newspaper published a special supplement looking at success, and asking for nominations in 10 fields (art and design, business, drink, fashion and retail, food, media, public life, science and innovation, sports and entertainment, travel and leisure.) And according to the PR department "Readers responded in their droves, putting forward people who had made an impression on them. Now, we proudly unveil the results: 500 of this country's future movers and shakers."

The 500 will be profiled in an Observer suppliment
this Sunday 30th November.
You never know you might recognise one (or more!) of the names...
It's worth a look we think!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Amanda named Make Your Mark Ambassador

Some of you might know I was officially named a Make Your Mark Ambassador a couple of months ago. My Make Your Mark profile has now officially been added to the collection of entrepreneur profiles at so if after GEW08 you still don't know about MYM there's now no excuse not to get over to the website and start finding out more!

About the Make Your Mark Campaign:
The campaign was founded by the four leading UK business membership organisations – the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors.
Make Your Mark is supported by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and is endorsed by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Red Button Design Receive Social Enterprise Award!

Ok, we confess, we love every opportunity to update the 'awards' section of our website. It is an important part of the feedback that lets us know we're making progress in the right direction. We are thrilled, therefore, to have been named one of Striding Out's "Future 100" this Global Enterprise Week!

The Future 100 awards, encourages and rewards extraordinary vision, ethical business practice and social responsibility. They aim to showcase businesses that offer innovative and sustainable solutions to social problems. The Future 100 Awards is organized by Striding Out, a social enterprise which is committed to supporting the development and growth of young and ethical entrepreneurs.

Founder of Striding Out Heather Wilkinson said:

"The future of our world is in the hands of individuals who are committed to generating commercial and ethical returns.

Challenging economic times can offer opportunities to question the way we operate as both a business community and a society. We are looking for the 'Future 100' young entrepreneurs who are changing the face of everyday business and improve commerce's impact on the wider world."

The full list can be found here and I'd like to extend a big congratulations to the other winners, many of whom we've already had the fortune to meet at various networking events and some we're looking forward to meeting soon.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Social Enterprise Day 2008

It's Social Enterprise Day today. Possibly the most exciting day of enterprise week (biased? us?) because it celebrates businesses which are effectively combining commerce with social change. Companies who are, quite rightly, earning a profit from doing good in the world.

We are forever explaining to people that Red Button Design is not a charity, we’re a Company limited by shares. Why? Well we believe that the charity model works excellently for relief efforts and disaster response (think Tsunami) but for long term development projects it is an unreliable, unsustainable source of income.

By running a successful for-profit business in the humanitarian sector Red Button Design, and thousands of other social enterprises being celebrated today, can stimulate competition leading to the reliable development of more effective product and service offerings to benefit some of the world’s most under-served communities.

I'd like to share the following UNICEF video, it's only 2 minutes long and explains far better than I ever could why James and I decided to found the world's first exclusive humanitarian design agency and bring to market the "ROSS".

Can entrepreneurs change the world?
We think so.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Women's Enterprise Day 2008 *

Today is Women's Enterprise Day as part of Global Enterprise Week and I have been reading with great interest a post on the UK Business forums about women-only business initiatives. Do we need them, do women like them and do they make a difference?

I am torn on this debate.

A couple of weeks ago Maria Eagle (Labour MP for Liverpool) said in Parliament that "Women are the largest under represented group in terms of participation in enterprise and offer a wealth of untapped talent and economic opportunity."
Really? Less represented than the disabled? Than the over 50's or the under 21's? Aren't we just getting in a flap about nothing here?

Last year I counted the proportion of male and female professionals invited to speak / present / exhibit at three of the high profile conferences I attended, I am aware that this is far from a scientifically valid method but interesting anecdotally nonetheless:

Conference 1: 40 men to 6 women,
Conference 2: 31 men to 11 women,
Conference 3: 39 men to 9 women,

26 females out of 136 business professionals translates to just 19%, which isn't all that surprising given that the 2008 Annual Small Business Survey established that only 14% of UK businesses are women-owned. All of which paints a bleak picture of Women's Enterprise and whilst previously I would have been the first and loudest person protesting that 99% of behavior labeled as 'sexism' in the business community was brought about by attributional bias on the part of women. (Indeed, some of you may have heard me discussing this last year on BBC radio!) As my career has progressed I have undoubtedly experienced situations where I was overlooked, ignored or patronised for no other discernible reason than my gender.

So is there anything to be done about it?
Well, Women's Enterprise, to me, like Youth Led Enterprises and a host of other so termed 'minority' groups, needs work. There are quite simply more middle class, middle aged, white male owned businesses than anything else in this country but there is nothing empowering about telling women (or any other aforementioned group for that matter) that they *should* redress this balance. Pushing for a 50% male / female split in business ownership is like pushing for an 50% attendance rate at University. It will almost certainly capture some hidden talent but runs the risk of funneling people into a career situation which might not suit them as well as the alternatives. Women and men have, as a generalisation, different skill sets and as it is important to have a range of skills in any team. For this reason I find women-only initiatives off putting. This is not to say I don't enjoy the opportunity to attend a women's networking event once or twice a year, but that I genuinely enjoy the range of perspectives I get working with a diverse group of people.

It makes sense for the economy to ensure that anyone who wants to start up in business should have support, training and funding available to assist them. It makes no sense to dictate that by necessity equal number of males / females should want to make that career decision. It's all about free choice.

I am very lucky to have amongst my friends a number of amazing women who's successes are a source of constant inspiration to me. Some of these are fellow "Girls! Make Your Mark" ambassadors and actively spend their time inspiring others to achieve, putting themselves out there as examples of what can be done with a lot of hard work and a bit of determination. If you want to know what Women's Enterprise Day is really about look to them. Not facts, stats and figures.

*Alternative title "Amanda gets on her soapbox!"

Stumble It! Digg!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Admitting it is the first step towards success!

Global Entrepreneurship week has got us thinking about what "entrepreneurship" really means, what skills you need to be an entrepreneur and why admitting it is the first step towards success! Today I've been asking myself what I did to earn the title 'entrepreneur' and whether I deserve it!

Hello, My name is Amanda and I am an Entrepreneur.

Two years ago I graduated from University and found myself in a familiar position, I had arrived at the successful end of yet another journey to recieve more academic qualifications and I had no idea what to do with them. Though previously this confusion had always resulted in a further spin on the education merry-go-round and yet more qualifications in subjects which really interested me but were, quite frankly, too diverse and wide ranging to be of any direct professional benefit, this time I was beginning to think I should get myself a career. And that was the magic word "career". I didn't want a job, I wanted a life.
I have a confession to make....I dislike work, I always have.Yet I spend around 60 hours a week, every week, on Red Button Design.
Why? because my definition of 'work' is something I don't want to be doing. I wanted to work with the United Nations but couldn't commit to the long stretches of field time at little or no notice. I wanted to work with Charities but found conflict in the ethics of relying on donors to fund growth in the developing world. I had and no aspiration to be an "entrepreneur" I just wanted to go about my life, achieving the things I wanted, doing what I found most interesting and rewarding and generally spending my time supporting the things I believed in. For me, that meant avoiding 'work' as I defined it and building my dream career.
To do this I have probably put in more hours that I would have in any standard 'job', I have survived on far less money, less sleep and less of a social life, and it's far from over yet. Why? In the hope that the gamble pays off and I end up with a career that I love to spend my time on. For more on this topic take a look at the "Turn your passion into profit!" debate

So should I call myself an entrepreneur?
- because I registered a Ltd Company?
- because I appeared on the Dragons' Den?
- because I raised money?
- beacuse I am my own boss and make my own decisions?

Yes, all of those things but critically entrepreneurship is all about taking a calculated risk to make your dreams happen, it's about having a go. So if you have an idea that you'd like to make reality, stop putting it off! Have a go this global enterprise week and start calling yourself an entrepreneur too.

Stumble It! Digg!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Global Entrepreneurship Week!

This year Enterprise Week has gone Global!
Last year there were over 5,000 events and more than half a million people in the UK took part. This year over 70 countries signed up to run their very own versions, with an expected 13,000 events taking place, all coming under the banner of Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Here at RBD we've got a lot to cram in to the next 5 days and we'll be updating the blog as much as possible with everything we get up to. But if you can't wait to find out more - take a look at the enterprise week website or cast your eyes over the video below!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Way way back on the 24th April James and I caught up with James Lawrence to do an interview for LIV Magazine. Haven't heard of it? Well i'll forgive you that as neither had we when they first contacted us, but LIV Magazine (It's Swedish for "Life") is the award winning, glossy rebrand of Volvo's lifestyle magazine.LIV sources articles from all over the world, is published in 75 countries, translated into 30 languages and sent to over 1.5 million readers, but we found ourselves in a posh Hairdressers in London.

We'd been quite rightly told that there was a good water feature for us to pose infront of. What no one had bargained for, however, was that this water feature (a large metallic wall with water cascading down it) ended in a pool filled with polished stones and pennies. Someone very sensible had the idea of getting hold of a pair of wellies and managed to find some, from where I just don't know! So, first James, then I, climbed into the water feature, wearing wellies, in the hairdressers, (which, by the way, was full of bemused staff and customers), to have our portrait taken! Easier said than done I can tell you as it's probably worth mentioning that these wellies were more than big enough for James' size 13 feet. So for me, little miss size 4, trying to walk around without falling in the water was a fiendish task! Alas, when it came time for us to have shots taken of us both together, no further wellies could be sourced. But ever the gentleman, James offered me the wellies, took off his shoes and socks, rolled his suit trousers up to the knee, and climbed in barefoot!

Needless to say all this, combined with the fact that everyone on the shoot was really great fun to work with, made for a highly entertaining morning and if that wasn't enough I have to say that we're thrilled with the final shot! Not too surprising really as the photographer Jamie Beeden is an amazing guy who has previously worked on Magazines such as NME, Arena and Q.

So for your delight and delectation, the final article *and* as a special treat, some photo's of the 'backstage' fun and games!

View Article as JPEG Image
View Article as PDF Document

Monday, 3 November 2008

Missed Us?

Did you miss our second, "follow-on", Dragons' Den appearance? Or maybe you just want to watch it again? Fear not! If you're based in the UK you can still catch up with how James and I are getting on with The Dragons and get a preview of our new prototype in action on BBC iPlayer until the end of November.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Back in the Den, Our New Episode To Air Sunday 2nd!

Last year James and I breathed a sigh of relief as we walked away from The Den with the best offer ever seen on the programme, all of the Dragons' pledging to invest in our water transport, sanitation and storage device, for the original equity offered.

Despite a record breaking result, Red Button Design were awarded £45,000 in grant funding from Oxford Said Business School, prompting James and I to take the difficult decision to suspend this original deal. We continued to progress and retain 100% of our equity, spending this money from Oxford (and subsequent funding and support secured from NESTA and Scottish Enterprise, amongst others), producing a fully working prototype.

Since the prototype was lovingly completed by James back in August, we elected to get back to the fearsome five and ask if they'd like a second chance (or should that be 'to give us a second chance'?) at an investment. Of course, almost a year down the line, 20,000 pre orders in the bag, prototype in the office, field trials ready and waiting, we are no longer looking for £50K seed funding. This time we're asking for £200,000 towards our half a million pound project and the BBC were there to see what happened.

Will we escape the wrath of the Dragons' a second time?*

Tune in to find out: Sunday 2nd November, 9pm BBC2

* no really, will we? We don't know yet either!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Red Button Design Inform New NESTA Innovation Programme

Last Monday, James and I attended a "Youth-Led Innovation Seminar". A pleasingly unpunctuated and ambiguous name for what is an incredibly meaningful piece of research commissioned by NESTA, The National Youth Agency and Changemakers, to analyse current practice around youth-led innovation.
Not an Innovation Seminar that itself, was Youth-Led!

In brief, this seminar brought together young people, youth practitioners, and ‘thought leaders’ with four goals in mind:

1: To share experiences and examples of youth-led innovation;
2: To identify some of the challenges with which young people are faced as they lead innovative projects
3: To examine what makes a successful youth-led innovation project
4: To explore how NESTA might best facilitate youth-led innovation in the future.

The outcome of this research will inform the development of a new NESTA programme designed to support youth-led innovation. The project is ongoing, and The NYA and Changemakers are currently carrying out 20 case studies of youth led innovation in the UK for publication, and developing a guide for practitioners in supporting YLI.

Red Button Design are extremely flattered to be one of these 20 case studies of successful youth-led innovation*. We're very excited to continue to work with NESTA and appreciate how great an opportunity this is to have our opinions not simply heard and recognised but actually acted upon, in what we hope will be a groundbreaking and highly implementable new innovation programme.

* I'm not sure if we're more flattered that we still count as 'youthful' or for being considered one of the most 20 'innovative' Companies NESTA could find to lend it's tagline, "Making Innovation Flourish", to!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Back from Geneva

Back at RBD-HQ, James and I are only just finding the time to reflect upon what a fantastically positive set of meetings we had in Geneva.

The feedback on our progress so far, and the suggestions as to how best to further develop the product to provide the maximum 'bang for buck', were staggeringly positive considering we are (admittedly) at an unusually early stage to have warranted the time and attention of the world's biggest NGOs.

Possibly the two most instantly significant of the many outcomes were The IFRC (The umbrella organisation which supports and enables the work of each of the National "Red Cross" and "Red Crescent" societies) offering to field trial the units, at their cost, in a location of our choosing; whilst the World Health Organisation have a Water and Sanitation Officer stationed in Delhi that they will put us in contact with to assist us when we begin our field trials in Mewat.

Slightly surprised as we always are with such a positive reception, we're aware that gaining this reputation for "getting in early" and being open to collaborations can work heavily in our favour contrasted with Companies, many years established in the commercial sector, who have a finalised product and cannot react to the recent changes in the Humanitarian sector. Increasingly NGOs are looking away from community and personal level water solutions and investing in household level solutions serving 2-5 people, rather than 2,000-5,000, or individuals, respectively. The established industry are having problems responding flexibly to this shift in focus - which is where we come in!

Business aside, we even squeezed in the time to take a look around Geneva (which, if you haven't been, is a stunning city), visit CERN and indulge in some of the legendary cheese fondue and swiss chocolate.

Left to right:

At the UN Offices, outside the WHO,
Lake Geneva, at CERN

Monday, 6 October 2008

Red Button Design Travel To Geneva

We're heading off to Geneva, the 'humanitarian capital of the world', this afternoon for face to face talks with Policy Makers, Procurement Officers, Logistics Experts and WatSan Engineers to promote the ROSS to the larger Humanitarian Agenices.

We already have meetings confirmed with the International Committee Of The Red Cross (ICRC), The International Federation Of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), CARE International and the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as having 2 contacts at the Geneva base for United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

So we should be kept pretty busy!

I get the feeling, however, we might somehow find the time to made a date with one other acronym ... CERN

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Change The World

Following on from my previous post regarding the Make Your Mark event, I would like to share my goodie bag with you!

Well, not literally. I'm afraid that would be a logistical feat not even James could overcome, recently qualified though he is. But I wanted to mention one of the most interesting gifts, a book I have been meaning to buy myself entitled "change the world for a fiver".

This book is part of the "we are what we do" movement promoting the completion of simple actions, which have very little impact on your life as an individual, but when combined will effect significant social and environmental change.

As well as being a fantastically simple concept, beautifully executed, they have a great website. So rather than talk about them here too much, i'd suggest you have a look over here if you're interested. And you should be! The book, one of several they publish, is full of excellent suggestions that will improve your life, the health of this planet, and society as a whole.

You can buy the book below but why wait 'till it arrives to start the good work. Sign up on the website and challenge yourself to complete an action! Today I am carrying around a thermos and getting coffee shop baristas to fill that up for me instead of using their disposable cups. With my incessant coffee drinking I alone may save the planet with this new action! ;o)

Change the world.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Field Logistics in Emergencies

Red Button DesignIn both the commercial and humanitarian sectors, logistics is the fine balance of procurement, transport & warehousing. In emergency aid and disaster response situations, getting the right materials, to the right place, at the right time, takes on a particular significance. Good logistics strategy is essential to efficient programme implementation, allowing the agency to maximise the human benefit from their budget.

We felt it would be hugely beneficial for Red Button Design to have in house understanding of the logistical processes triggered after our products are purchased, and so James accepted the challenge to spend last week away from RBD-HQ on a 5 day residential course held in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

The course, "Field Logistics in Emergencies", is part of a professional training programme run by RedR, (Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief) and is internationally recognised by humanitarian aid agencies, having been approved by the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport to provide appropriate logistics training for the humanitarian sector.

With pedigree like this, then, it is no surprise that James is one of the younger applicants to have successfully completed this intensive course.

So 'Congratulations' to James for this latest addition to his C.V! This is a fantastic personal achievement and yet another set of skills we can add to RBD's growing competencies in the aid and humanitarian sector.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Right and Wrong Ways to "Make Your Mark"!

The "Girls! Make Your Mark" Awards Ceremony took place last Friday at the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone, London. Though I was not crowned Female Social Entrepreneur of the Year, (This went to Carry Somers who founded Pachacuti*), I was treated to a goodie bag and an array of wonderful speakers including Carrie Grant and Gita Patel who, thankfully, were not overshadowed by John Bird (Big Issue) controversially expressing a passionate dislike for the late Anita Roddick (Body Shop), listing all of the finalists for the Female Social Entrepreneurship awards by their masculinised names ... (Alexander vs. Alexandra and Garry vs. Carry), mispronouncing finalists' companies .." whatever" (!) and committing award ceremony treason by announcing the winner mid-way through listing the finalists and spoiling the surprise! Still rather dazed and confused, I wonder if this was an intentional attempt at humour or a little overindulgence with the, kindly provided and free flowing, house red. Either way, it'd be a shame to dwell too long on a weak point of an otherwise lovely afternoon so please do check out some of the wonderful attendees and their businesses here.

* "Pachacuti, which means ‘world upside down' in Quechua, raises money through women's Panama hat co-operatives in Ecuador to fund social projects including paying the rent and food costs for Alcoholics Anonymous."

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Newsnight Now Available on BBC i>Player

Our contribution to Thursday's Newsnight can be watched here via BBC i>Player until 18/09/08.

So what is the way forward for Scottish Enterprise?

"More publicity around the fact that there is this support there and yes, maybe we need a better understanding of what that busineess support is there to do and the limitations of that, and maybe fill in some of those key holes."

- James Brown, Red Button Design

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Red Button Design On Newsnight, 11th Sept, 11pm

We've had an odd day today at RBD-HQ. We spent all morning pretending it was evening, promoting Scottish Innovation for tomorrow's edition of Newsnight Scotland. Tomorrow's show looks at the upcoming John Logie Baird Awards Programme and the shape of Scottish innovation and entrepreneurship as a whole, asking if, more than eighty years after John Logie Baird, there is enough support for young innovators.

We had the opportunity to present the ROSS to a panel including Isabell Majewsky, Gordon Brewer and Jackie McKenzie and though 'television' got in the way of any serious business networking being done, we left with a few more business cards to add to the collection. That aside, it is all fantastic publicity as we 'down tools' and start heading into the murky world of detailed design, and I can't imagine a more agreeable way to celebrate the John Logie Baird Awards than with a bit of televised innovation. Whats more, as it appears that despite being 18 times more lethal than death, CERN has not yet sucked the earth into a black hole, you'll all still be alive to tune in!

Thursday September 11th, 11pm, BBC 2 Scotland or all week on BBC i>Player

"Newsnight Scotland, presented by Gordon Brewer and Anne Mackenzie, looks in depth at topical news and current affairs from the Scottish perspective. The programme is broadcast from 2300 to 2320, Monday to Thursday."

Friday, 5 September 2008

If Not Trees - Where Does Money Grow?

Yes, after our brief hiatus we are back and blogging.

I feel like I owe you all an update and an explanation so lets start with the latter. Money.

For the last fortnight, RBD-HQ has been consumed by the activities surrounding raising finance. As many of you will know, and contrary to popular media, we have to date funded the company through competitions, grants, personal investment, in kind support and scrooge-like penny pinching. Not because it was our planned funding route, but because we were able to seize opportunities to access unconventional funds by being active in our network and on the internet. These opportunities enabled us to stave off the sale of equity until we felt the company had become sufficiently appealing and valuable. We are now feeling the benefits of that painful catch-22 "it takes money to grow money". This infinite regress is the bane of every start up but (to adopt the analogy) you need only one seed planted carefully to grow a tree full of your own seeds. Our tree started with £500, took root, and we're now trying get it to grow.
So we've been out.
Gardening ;o)

On to the update: aside from laps of the garden (literally this time, see above) we're arranged meetings for the next six weeks including representatives from EU External Aid Funding, UNHCR, The Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, and the World Health Organisation. We'll also be filming for "Newsnight Scotland" and the follow up for "The Dragons' Den", and on Friday I'll be back in London for the "Girls! Make Your Mark" Award Ceremony - if you voted, thank you, the results of the public vote and the prizes awarded by the judging panel will be announced live that afternoon.

And of course, we've been settling into our new website design. Isn’t it stunning? Just another couple of strings to James’ bow, not only did he do almost all the coding (I took what you might want to call a 'supervisory' role), but the photography is his handywork too.* If you're accessing this blog direct or from an RSS syndication I encourage you to take a peek at our new website at or our newly acquired and long awaited domain where this blog can also be accessed directly.

Needless to say with all the exciting things we've got lined up over the next month and a half, this blog will be buzzing. Make sure you don't miss anything by adding us to your syndication.

*If you want to see more of James’ Photography, or incidentally another website he authored, check out his personal photography and portfolio site

Friday, 22 August 2008


Amanda has been nominated for the "Girls! Make Your Mark Award". You can read her profile here and vote for her in the people's choice award here. Being nominated for this award is a great achievement, so congratulations are most certainly in order!


Thursday, 24 July 2008

Red Button Design Ltd Is Officially 1 Year Old Today!

Despite having began work on the product and concepts back in November 2006, it wasn't until July the following year that we signed our souls away to Companies House, making us officially 1 year old today! And as our previous post details, it has been a very rewarding and eventful 12 months!

To celebrate our 1st Birthday, we are taking down our dull and tawdry website for a few days and re-launching with a dynamic, sexy and informative new site on August 1st. We think this new site will be more representative of the Company we are and the work we're doing, so by all means check back next week for the re-launch!

Amanda & James

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Time To Take Stock...

Well we're coming up to the end of our first year and thought it'd be appropriate to take a look back at what an amazing year it has been..

on July 27th 2007 Red Button Design Ltd formally registered at Companies House. By August we were one of 25 global businesses who made it into the Grand Final of the the "Business In Development" Social Business Plan Competition which received over 3,000 entries. Later that month James and I travelled, in great secrecy, to Pinewood Studio's to film "The Dragons Den". Where, despite securing the best deal ever done in the den (all 5 Dragons investing for the original equity offered), we are sworn to legally-enforceable silence until the episode airs! In September Red Button Design travelled out to San Fransisco to receive a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award. We were the only UK company to be recognised in the competition. Not to rest on our laurels, November not only saw Red Button in the Final 5 "Enterprising Young Brits" in the British Chambers of Commerce Competition for the Social & Community Category but we were named the most promising innovative business idea addressing 21st century healthcare and medical challenges in the Oxford Said Business School's National Enterprise Competition. We were awarded a £10,000 prize and put forward for the Oxford SBS 'Global Challenge' where we were also awarded the overall award for Social Enterprise beating 182 entries from 23 countries and netting a further £35,000. December, and our Episode of "The Dragons' Den" airs just before Christmas. James and I finally get to see which 13 minutes of our 2+ hours of interrogation were deemed worthy of screen time! We collapse with relief and the website collapses under the deluge of hits! January 2008 and the new year sees us traveling to India with the UK-India Business Council on a Government Delegation with PM Gordon Brown, to be interviewed live on TV with Richard Branson, Karan Bilimoria, Peter Jones and Gordon. I did manage to get a question in which was answered by the PM and praised for it's insightfulness by the very lovely Richard Branson! We also spent time with a wonderful NGO working on the features of the product with a small village community in Mewat, part of India's poverty belt. We return to find out that Red Button has received £1,000 for winning the Regional heat of the Dumbartonshire Business Gateway Competition and progress to win the National Competition and receive another £4,000. In February I am accepted on to NESTA's Starter for 6 scheme, an intensive four month training programme for young creative entrepreneurs. Entry to this scheme is extremely competitive and is provided at no cost to the companies who are accepted! James gets nominated for "Global Student Entrepreneur 2008" in
March (we're awaiting to see how his application progresses). April saw us reach the last 5 young businesses in the HSBC 'Unipreneurs' competition from over 800 potentials. I completed NESTA's Starter for Six Training Programme in June was nominated as Glasgow University's Young Alumni of and The Company is awarded £7,000 follow on grant funding from NESTA.


So that takes us up to July and we're currently working on a series of educational text books, awaiting the publication of a few magazine articles, raising second-stage funding, re-designing the website and securing our International Patent.

Not bad for our first year I think you'll agree!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A Little Educational Role Play!

Amanda Jones & James Brown of Red Button Design on the BBC television programme The Dragons' Den
A couple of months ago we began working with the BBC on a for-schools programme they were launching based around the Television Series "The Dragons' Den".

It had come to light that a number of schools were using the 'Dragons' Den' format to teach a range of skills from confident presenting and public speaking to interview skills and (of course) business and entrepreneurship. No surprise to us, naturally, we've been involved with a number of student and for-schools programmes since we set our shaky feet in the den! Having belatedly discovered its appeal as a teaching aid the beeb decided they ought to support and encourage this, and contacted a number of the show's previous participants (ourselves included) to collaborate on some teaching materials. The first stage of this plan is a nifty education based game playable online.

It is our understanding that as time goes on the BBC intend to roll out a full education package designed for teachers, "providing unique and relevant teaching materials [to] encourage active classroom participation."

If you're a teacher and you're interested in helping shape this education package or apply for a teaching pack Visit BBC Learning

If you fancy playing James or Myself* on the BBC's shiny new online game Play Online Now!

* of course you could also play the part of one of the Dragons, Imran Hakim, Laban Roomes or Sarah Lu...but why would you when you can play as Red Button Design and challenge yourself to walk away, like us, with the best deal ever reached in the den!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A Note On I.P.

Here's a crash course in IP..

Once upon a time, back in Feb 2007, we submitted a patent for the ROSS which covered us within the UK. A year later, based on some success, we applied for and registered a more detailed International Patent.

Of course this wonderful Internet of ours is a global phenomenon, so we couldn't start disclosing the patentable details of our innovation online until the International application had been signed, sealed and delivered! This includes pictures of prototypes, truly accurate schematics of the technology involved or, infact, anything worth anything really (that's the point!)

We are now approaching the degree of legal security necessary to indulge your curiosities. We thank you for your patience and support.. all that's left now is for you to watch this space ;o)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Keynoting at the SECC

Amanda triumphed over superstition when her keynote marked the launch of the very successful 'Growing Your own Business Conference' at the SECC on Friday 13th June. After welcoming the delegates to a hall packed full of exciting enterprise opportunity, Amanda spoke about our vision for Red Button and the strategies we are using to grow our business.

The event was fantastic for networking, and we met some great people with whom we hope to keep in touch. Talking to others about where we've been is a good touch stone for recognising quite how far we've managed to get, especially during the times when everything seems to be moving forward in slow motion!


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

James - On The EDGE!

Last Thursday Amanda and I met our EDGE team. A couple of years ago I was intending on applying for this summer programme as a student so it is a real pleasure to be involved this year as one of the host companies.

Like all the students involved with the EDGE programme this year, our team (six students from Scotland, England and America) has spent three weeks in an intensive immersion programme, learning about entrepreneurship, enterprise leadership, cross-cultural teamwork, consulting and economic development.

Having been impressed by our team at Thursday's meeting we are really looking forward to working with them over the coming weeks.


EDGE provides university students, school pupils and businesses with the opportunity to work together, to their mutual benefit. Second and third year students from Scottish and international universities form consultancy teams with fifth year secondary school pupils and work on projects with Scottish businesses.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Young Alumnus of the Year Nomination

I found out last week that I had been nominated for the University of Glasgow's "Young Alumnus of the Year Award". The Award is an annual University honor which aims to recognise and celebrate the achievements of alumni who have made a major contribution to the community, arts, sciences or business.

I had no idea I had been nominated, I am incrediably flattered despite the fact that at the same time as finding out about the nomination I found out that the judging had already been completed!

The award for 2008 will be presented to Mark Beaumont, a fellow Alumni who I saw speak at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise Annual Summit the year after Red Button Design scooped the £16,000 Enterprise award. Mark became the record holder of fastest time to cycle around the world on February 15th 2008, beating the previous record time by 3 months! It was an amazing achievement and he was a wonderful speaker and you can download a podcast of his speech here.

I have not got a clue who nominated me or supported my nomination but if anyone knows or maybe if it was you


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

NESTA Award £7,000 Grant to Red Button Design!

Following on from my post of 13/06/08 I am happy to announce that we have been offered £7,000 in grant funding from NESTA.

We have been told that the funding decisions were made on a very competitive basis and having spent 4 months on a training course getting to know the other participants and their businesses I can only imagine how difficult the decision making process was for the panel members involved.

Through a four page Executive Summary and a 30 minute pitch, each business was assessed in terms of the innovation, market opportunity and proposed use of funds. NESTA's tagline "making innovation flourish" underpins this grant and a major aspect of the grant process was demonstrating the innovative aspects of the business. Well, here at RBD-HQ we like to think that we not only have innovation in the design of our product but also in the design of our business plan, route to market and in our ambitious media and brand strategy, so we are extremely pleased to have this innovation formally recognised by NESTA.

Alongside the grant we will receive appropriate follow-on business support to ensure we spend the money on the more 'novel' aspects of our business rather than on the general administration and day to day 'busywork'. The business advisers will also send written updates back to NESTA charting our progress. We are embracing this opportunity with open arms and anticipate having a lot to report back to NESTA and your good selves!

See all 2008's grant recipients here

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Of Shoes And Ships And Sealing-Wax

Last week was a very busy and eventful week for us and though the coming week looks set to equal (if not surpass) the last in terms of how many hours a day we can work, how many meetings we can squeeze in and how little sleep we can survive on, I will endeavour to catch up with the blogging and give some of this weeks more noteworthy events a blog post of their own.

For now, however, a brief run down of the things simmering away at RBD-HQ...

~ James has, in his own words, been "temporarily freed from the shackles of academia" and has immersed himself with admirable vigour in the day to day running of the business. Having muddled along myself for over 18 months now I have to admit that I appreciate having a second perspective on the little things (like whether we should file June's receipts *before* the divider tag in the filing cabinet that says 'June' or *after*)

~ James and I have gotten involved with the fantastic youth led banking scheme 'MyBnk' and will shortly be answering a battery of fun and challenging questions in the MyBnk Hotseat

~ We found out that our old primary school, Swavesey Village College, has been showing clips of our Dragon's Den pitch in Science Class (I just wonder if students still turn the TV off every 10 seconds with those cunning watch gadgets only to have the teacher call out the AV technician for the 5th time that period!)

~ On the subject of Education we've been asked for permission for our DD pitch to be transcribed and included in a National Curriculum Enterprise Text Book as a 'How To' example! Amazing, and to think my school teachers told me day dreaming wouldn't get me anywhere!

~ James has been nominated as Global Student Entrepreneur of The Year 2008!

~ We're eagerly anticipating meeting our team for the EDGE project (more on this shortly)

... and we've a couple of big announcements for the making so check back later on this week

Friday, 13 June 2008

NESTA S46 Finale

Tuesday saw the culmination of the NESTA Starter for 6 Cultural Enterprise training programme. This year 223 businesses applied, 149 people were selected for interview and 80 individuals were accepted onto the course. This course consisted of 4 days training, 2 networking sessions and 3 one on one sessions with a business coach. The 67 businesses that successfully completed the course were given the opportunity to pitch for a grant of up to £10,000, pitching to panels in five cities over the period 27th May through to 10th June. NESTA has a fund of £180,000 this year to distribute as it pleases between these 67 bids.

James and I were one of the last Companies to pitch and stated our case for the cash on the final interview day, Tuesday.

We were pleased with the way our pitch went. Of course you never can tell with these things and it remains to be seen if our bid for finance was successful. However I do get a sense that regardless of which businesses do receive their share of the £180K everyone who was lucky enough to be accepted on this course (which is not only free to those who get through the application process but actually subsidised so all participants receive a payment into their personal bank account to help with travel costs to and from the various training and events) has found the training and networking both useful and enjoyable. I think I can speak for many of the participants when I say that there is a great deal of enthusiasm for keeping in touch and continuing to share helpful information and advice. Whilst everyone wants their share of the money there is a wider realisation that the quality of entrepreneurs on the course was astounding and this extinguishes any rivalry which may otherwise existed between our businesses.

So to anyone who completed the course I sincerely and whole heatedly wish you all the luck in the world getting this funding and to anyone who is thinking of starting or in the early stages of running a business do get in touch with NESTA to see what courses run in your area. NESTA

I will post again when we find out if we have been successful.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Amanda and James to Keynote at the SECC

James and I have the honour of opening the Growing Your Own Business Conference which will be held at the SECC on June 13th.

After the opening address we will also be speaking about small business growth strategies, qualities of successful CEOs, the importance of setting a company vision and attracting finance, using examples from our own experiences and those of the many successful companies we have had the fortune to learn from.

If you are interested in attending or finding out more please see the
growing your own business website

Friday, 30 May 2008

"Good Deals" Conference a Great Deal for Red Button

Last month James and I attended and spoke at the ‘Good Deals’, social investment conference held by the Office of the Third Sector in partnership with NESTA. It was held at St Lukes Church in Islington which is a lovely venue on an absolutely gorgeous summers day.

I had been meaning to review the event myself but in the interim a number of interesting articles have come to my attention so i shall refer to the 3 links below. The first of which is affiliated with and I am pleased to say features us rather favourably! The second is the 'offical' review and the third an interesting article from social enterprise magazine, mainly about Sir Tom (but also mentioning our good selves). Between them these three links present a better balance of the day than I could. I will say however that it was a very productive and interesting day and meeting Sir Tom Hunter was a pleasure indeed (pictures below)

The Social Business Blog

Hunter Inspires Social Investment Through Example

Cabinet Office Debrief

Monday, 26 May 2008

Dragons' Den Repeats Red Button Episode

Our Episode of Dragons' Den will be repeated twice this week:

Monday (tonight) 9pm on BBC 3
Thursday (29th) 9pm on Dave

so James and I have left the country ;o)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Red Button Design Featured in New Scientist Magazine

Red Button Design are featured in this week's New Scientist Magazine* in an article entitled "Become An Inventor". Of course we think you should all rush out and buy it but if the publication as a whole doesn't appeal to you and you'd like to read our little mention it is, of course, *online*

*issue 2657 of New Scientist magazine, 24 May 2008, page 4