Monday, 26 October 2009

Red Button Design - Glenfiddich "Pride Of Scotland" Award Finalists

For the twelfth year Scotsman Publications has joined forces with Glenfiddich to give readers the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards.

We're happy to say that Red Button Design have been nominated in the Environment Category and once you have voted for us in The Pitch we'd sheepishly invite you to consider also voting for us in the Spirit of Scotland Awards.

Copy below courtesy of The Scotsman.

Few years have more tested Scotland's enterprise and talent than the past 12 months. Banks have tumbled, firms have failed, unemployment has risen and household spending has been reined in. Fear and apprehension have marked a year that has shaken our confidence and pride.

If ever there was a period in which the creativity and ambition of the nominees for the Spirit of Scotland awards were sorely needed, this is surely it. For it is in the difficult times that perseverance and success are especially important, and which inspire us to greater endeavour. Given this background, the achievements of this year's selection are particularly outstanding.

This unique awards scheme aims to recognise the individuals who make us proud, inspire our nation and lead the way across Scotland's rich cultural spectrum from the fields of Food, Music, the Environment and Screen to Art, Business, Writing and Sport: people who through their achievements are making every year count.

Receiving a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award is now one of the country's most sought-after tributes – made all the more important because the winners are selected not by an elite few, but by you, the people of Scotland. Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand for winners including Olympian Chris Hoy, actor James McAvoy and young SuperJam entrepreneur, Fraser Doherty.

In the coming weeks The Scotsman will profile four individuals in each of the following categories: Business, Art, Food, Sport, Music, Screen, Environment and Writing. The nominees have been shortlisted by a consulting panel but it's over to you to decide who should win. In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland's reputation at home and abroad this year.

The consulting panel for the Awards includes: John McLellan (Scotsman editor), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Peter Irvine (Unique Events), Fiona Bradley (Fruitmarket Gallery), Celia Stevenson (Scottish Screen), Stuart Nisbet (Unique Events), and correspondents from The Scotsman newspaper.

Friday, 23 October 2009

"Fact Friday": 10 things you didn't know about water..

1. Lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world's single largest cause of illness.

2. Over 50% of Hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people suffering from preventable diseases caused by unsafe water or poor sanitation.

3. In developing countries 90% of sewage and 70% of industrial wastewater is dumped untreated into the same sources of surface water used commonly used for drinking / bathing

4. The average woman in Sub Saharan Africa walks 6km to find a protected source of drinking water

5. It's estimated that fetching water costs women/girls in Sub Saharan Africa 40 billion hours, or 5 billion workdays a year.

6. It's estimated that fetching water costs women/girls in India 150 million workdays a year, at a National cost of 10 billion rupees / USD $208 million.

7. Lack of easy access to safe drinking water is one of the greatest barriers to education and economy building in the developing world. A reduction in time spent collecting water enables women to engage in enterprise, enables girls to receive an education, and access to safe drinking water drastically reduces illness and therefore absence for all pupils.

8. Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream, $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.

9. Between 1991 and 2000, over 665,000 people died in 2,557 natural disasters, of which 90% of these were water related events.

10. In order to meet the water supply MDG target, an additional 260,000 people per day up to 2015 should gain access to improved water sources based on the current population. However, between 2010 and 2015, the world’s population is expected to increase every year by 74.8 million people.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Give me half the money I asked for and an advisor who can save me the other half…

So there’s a rumor I keep hearing in certain circles; that whilst starting a business will take time, it needn’t take much money.

And I agree. Kind of.

Starting up a business is expensive only when you’re spending money on things you don’t need and, broadly speaking, I would claim that startups only need two things: ‘Stuff’ and ‘Understanding’

“Stuff”: Capital expenditure, physical things have a natural expense to them. The cost is usually linked to the wider world, abundance or scarcity of resources & the state of the planet in general, which is is all fine and rational by my account.

“Understanding”: Knowledge, however, has no such natural price point. As long as our accountant costs us less than the price we'd pay for getting the accounts wrong, and as long as getting that test verified earns us more than the certification cost us to get, it was the correct course of action. These experiential things aren’t justifiable or tangible costs but they’re also a bulk of our expendature.

Now, depending on what you’re starting, you’re going to want these at different places in the startup cycle and in different proportions. If you’re daft you’ll start a business that requires a vast amount of ‘stuff’ early on, pre-revenue even, and whatismore you might choose to do so in a recession.. y’know.. Just to make your life really complex but I digress..

At RBD we’re just putting the finishing touches to a £110k funding package. It has been an insane amount of work to push though, and as the money isn’t in our account yet there’s not even a guarantee that it won’t still all go awry, but it’s £110,000. I’m guessing it’d take me 3-4 years to earn that - so what is 3 months buried under a forest of paperwork of loan / equity agreements, tech docs and grant applications in comparison?

Nothing really, until you seriously consider the fact that we don’t need £110k.

We probably don’t need half of £110k,

What we need is a mentor / non-exec / advisor type bod.

Mistakes are expensive; without a mentor we have to budget for them, and so do you, and so do the vast majority of young start-ups with high growth potential who haven’t found adult supervision yet.

The lovely souls at the banks, grant making agencies, government and such would do well to realise that if they started training and encouraging mentors they could save themselves a bundle in cash. By all means buy the stuff, but ought we really to be buying in the understanding?

I, for one, would certainly rather have less money wisely used than a heap of cash with which to outsource my companies knowledge at the expense of my personal learning.

Come on guys, give me half the money I asked for and a mentor who can save me the other half…

Thursday, 1 October 2009

"Press Relations Goddess"?.. I've been termed worse!

I was at a Fast Growth Marketing event, run by School for Startups at the British Library last Friday and, despite all best intentions to sit down, shut up, and duly learn from the wonderful speakers, it would appear that what I actually did was manage to find myself causing a slight ripple of trouble.

'Oh', indeed.. And I can tell you're all surprised.

But let me explain; one of the great things about S4Startups is that the events allow for entrepreneurs in the audience to ask Doug Richard, or one of his guest speakers, for advice on how to resolve some of the issues they've been having regarding their businesses. With the advent of S4Stv the incorporation of live tweeting was encouraged, giving the rest of us in the audience the opportunity to pass ill informed judgement on the poor souls.. didn't I tell you this was great stuff?

So it transpired, then, that during a debate on PR and Marketing one such entrepreneur told a tale of how her business was contacted with regards to providing a 'profile' (not interview!) for a factual, industry specific, publication. Her problem was that when the copy came out it was riddled with inaccuracies, some simply wrong, others misleading to the company's extreme detriment and as a couple of others murmured from the auditorium that they too had suffered from the misreporting of facts in a similar fashion I, daftly I'll admit, grabbed my Blackberry and threw out into the ether this Tweet:

#s4stv Umm... am I the only entrepreneur who is successfully self-generating PR & who *demands* copy approval?! 'Copy Approval' people!! ;-)

So.. some followers on Twitter may have seen a little debate kick off between myself and @CriagMcGill which culminated in his recent blog post on the subject.

Now, to clarify, Red Button Design has been fortunate enough to receive a sizable chunk of press attention but up until recently we've been the feature of a huge number of factual publications and very few opinion pieces. When it comes to factual profiles I am afraid I am one of those difficult souls who do insist on seeing and checking the copy before print. To be frank, this is simply because, when it comes to technical or industry publications the difference between saying; 'cleans water', 'purifies water', or 'sanitises water' is technically significant in a way a journalist might not fully appreciate prior to a crash course in UN procurement and WHO sanitation regulations. And while getting the piece in the publication but having it inappropriately worded is harmful beyond measure, not being there at all is neutral ground. Perfectly defensible actions, I'm sure you'll agree.

However, I am pleased to say that the opinion pieces are beginning to come our way now, Gillian Bowditch recently interviewed me for the Sunday Times and produced a wonderful piece which I hasten to add I didn’t have copy approval over, nor did I request it. Similarly this morning I interviewed for a very well known national women's' magazine and didn't even consider making the request.

So I'd counter that my Tweet was misleading to those deprived of it's context, which given that there were maybe 100 or so folk at the event means that the vast majority of you might have been mislead and for that I am sorry. (I shoulda known better really, mea culpa and all that!) Hence I don't think @CriagMcGill and I are really arguing discussing the same thing, even,.. but tell us what *you* think either by commenting here or over at his blog, and I, for one, promise to post your opinions verbatim ;-)