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