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.