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

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

“The Innovation Edge” Review (complete with picture & video goodies!)

“The Innovation Edge”, Nesta's 18 monthly conference, took place yesterday at the Festival Hall London and I was there exhibiting on behalf of RBD.

These days I go to a fair number of conferences calling for social and climate change through innovation. Listening to speakers challenging the ‘youth of today’ to step up to the plate, form enterprises and fix the problems of our parents and grandparents generations. Imagine my relief to be part of a conference that not only also spoke of these things but listened and actively supported innovation.

I think there is a gradual realisation by the Government that we are innovating in this country and need more support to continue to do so. We are working creatively in the fields of science, business and technology and thanks in no small part to NESTA we are getting great British ideas out there into the global market. There were more tickets requested for this conference than health and safety allowed NESTA to issue and it was held at the Royal Festival Hall. This was a huge event with massive ‘star’ and ‘political’ power but it pales in comparison to the volume and value of the ideas and enthusiasm of the exhibitors. No, I am not just blowing my own trumpet here. Collectively all the exhibited businesses presented a powerful voice of uncompromising change.

The speakers inlcuded Chris Powell (NESTA’s Chairman), Jonathan Kestenbaum (NESTA’s Chief Executive) Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Inventor of the WWW / personal hero of mine) and Sir Bob Geldof (Live 8 / global megastar) all of whom were amazing but I wont say too much about them as you can listen to their speaches as recorded by Nesta *Here*

After the morning’s speakers I headed back to man the Red Button exhibition stall. I was thrilled at how well attended, it was! People were genuinely interested, bothering to read the sexy information leaflets James designed in their entirety before consigning them to the bottom of their briefcases and handbags and the video I created for our plasma screen (see below) was a resounding hit for which I am thankful as it took so long to ‘perfect’ that I got less than 3 hours kip the previous night. There was a constant stream of insightful and interesting questions to the extent that I didn’t seem to have a second even to pause of a sip of my coffee. And most importantly of all, I traded my stash of business cards for those of people substantially more interesting that I.

Then I happened upon on one of those opportunities which cannot survive hesitancy, PM Gordon Brown was entering the building and for a few moments everyone was standing around unoccupied. Yes, that includes Sir Bob. So barely pausing for a gulp of coffee I dashed (promotional material in hand) over to him and introduced myself and the company. As it turns out he had heard of us (score) and had some questions for me. He expressed (or cunningly feigned) a distinct interest in the project and I got a fair while to discuss our plans with him, answer his questions as well as being the open-eared recipient of his advice.

All in all a pretty successful day!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Reflections on the 'Unipreneurs' Experience

I have been meaning to post my reflections on the whole 'Unipreneurs' experience for some time now. Two things have held me back. Firstly I had to take a week off work to be with my family at a difficult time and I've been clearing the backlog of work which leaves little time for blogging but coming a close second is the fact that if I am honest I have some reservations about the competition

The competition process was as follows:
1) Fill in online application form and send supporting evidence
2) Entries are narrowed down to 100 called "Top 100"
3) Entries narrowed down to 20 called "Super 20"
4) Entries narrowed down to 10 called "Semi Finalists"
5) Semi Finalists 10 Invited to HSBC Tower for panel interview
6) Final 5 announced called "National Finalists"
7) National Finalists are filmed
8) NFs are quizzed live on stage infront of specially selected audience
9) Audience vote for winner with remote handsets at theatre seats
10) Winner announced later that evening

To my understanding this is the first time "Unipreneurs" has used this format and frankly it puzzles me for a number of reasons. From the time I submitted my application form (step 1) to the 10 Semi Finalists being announced (step 4) we did nothing. No further information was requested and no discussion was entered into, the same document is used to narrow down the top 100, 20 and 10. I understand that filtering the competition in stages, 'top 20', 'semi finalists', 'national finalists' etc is good for PR and good for the entries that made the top 100 but not the top 5 but to do so on the basis of the original document when they knew all along who would make the interview at step 5 only seems to me a little pointless at best. The Interview stage, however, was truly a joy. I blogged about it in Feb. The judges were interesting, interested insightful and the day was organised to perfection. James and I both enjoyed the fact it was held in HSBC tower Canary Wharf and felt it was worth the long journey down. Similarly the experience of being filmed for our short film which I blogged about in March was also fantastically fun.

Then comes the final. I was hugely looking forward to this event and cautious that history is indeed written by the victors I would be remiss not to point out that a)we were not victorious and b) these are my impressions and opinions alone. Upon arrival James and I had a little trouble with the hotel that had been booked for us, (or not booked as the case may be) but this was swiftly rectified and we were lead up into the finalists holding area. It was explained that the format would be as follows: A welcome address to the audience by Jenni Falconer, then one by one the judges would be introduced and welcomed to the stage (Lisa Buckingham, Editor, Financial Mail on Sunday, Dragons' Den Entrepreneur Peter Jones, Designer Wayne Hemingway and William Kendall, former CEO Green & Blacks and New Covent Garden Soup Company) Then each of the final companies would in turn have their film shown to the audience and spend 15 minutes on stage discussing their idea. We were first. We had been shown the theatre space prior to our onstage 'discussion' but not introduced to the judges. The judges had been given a DVD of the 5 introductory films prior to the final but each of the finalists had not been allowed to see the finished cut of their own film. The audience had been given a small information pack upon their arrival...

The event was simply not what we were lead to believe it would be. The onstage judges (who, I should mention, had no voting powers - only the ability to lead the voting audience) were there as I understood it to ask relevant questions and draw out answers to enlighten the audience and allow them to make a choice at the end of the evening. In reality it was like an audition for the Dragons' Den or X-factor. The questions were loaded, the tone argumentative and confrontational and whilst RBD fared surprisingly well some of these National Finalists were unfairly told their ideas were non viable. To add to this some finalists had been explicitly told that props and fliers were forbidden and then some finalists produced prototypes on stage!

Then comes the audience vote. I was surprised that a large proportion of the invited voters did not turn up and a number of voting handsets were left unused (or, as I later found, out open to double voting by entrepreneurial individuals!)

The announcement was held at a reception less than an hour later and, again, the reception was fantastically organised and the announcement and speakers were inspirational. Hew Morgan, (head of Business Banking at HSBC) specifically is a wonderfully interesting and engaging speaker. James and I stayed chatting until the free drink ran dry and went for a pizza before retiring, shattered, to our hotel.

As yet The HSBC website has still not been updated to reflect the competitions conclusion or to name the winners.

So there you have it, my run down of the event. 90% positive but in places somewhat flawed. But don't take my word for it! Some of the other finalists have blogged about their experiences too:

Rate My Placement's 'Unipreneurs Final' experience

All that is left for me to do is leave you with a few pictures and our video as shown at the event.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Red Button Design Article in The Times Newspaper

Just a quick twitter via Blackberry, on route from London:

James and I are in the Times newspaper today, page 4 of the "Career" section. I will post a copy of the article shortly but it's never the same as seeing it in print so if you get a chance, check us out!

Sent via BlackBerry


"Amanda Jones and James Brown had a desire to produce clean drinking water, pure and simple"

Full article available from The Times Online

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Red Button Design are a Good Deal!

Just a quickie to let you know that James and I are speaking at the UK’s first annual social investment conference, ‘Good Deals’, in London on Tuesday 6th May. Presented by the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in partnership with NESTA, Good Deals will apparently "bring together a wide range of high profile contributors to debate and learn about new opportunities for financing social change." - We're suitably flattered.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Keeping Busy

Seems like we haven't stopped in a while, sometimes literally unpacking suitcases only to re-pack them a day later and clocking up a few too many all-nighters! You'll forgive us then for not yet posting a full-debrief of the HSBC event (it is coming! video and pictures included) but meanwhile here are the links to the other Unipreneurs finalists as promised:

The fabulous boys of Rate My Placement
The gorgeous girlies Leona & Zoe of ZoLo Designs
Mr 118 Taxi himself

and the winners Luke & Luke of Scratchface