A Home For Good Business(es) In Brighton

In April 2018 I moved back to Brighton after six and a half years in London. First running my startup out of White Bear Yard, then joining a sea of familiar faces fixing government technology at GDS, and later moving into Newspeak House in the first cohort of residential fellows, founding Citizen Beta, and helping to get Techfugees up and running (join us in Paris!)

It was a busy few years!

While in London I started to discover more about how business can be better. In the same way we as people can be better. In fact, now I think about it, exactly like that.

James Smith presents Something New at Citizen Beta

I won’t talk too much about that in this post, but please check out these organisations and frameworks to get an idea of what that means:

Incorporating a bcorporation.uk
Triple Bottom Line accounting
Integrated Value

Last year, Blaine and I started inviting people that cared about positive impact in business to monthly breakfasts, to meet and share, perchance to collaborate. I quickly realised, as is almost cliche, that I wasn’t alone in trying to work out how a new default way of doing business could exist.

So now to Brighton.

Brighton has always had potential to become a leading example… because we do things differently here.

It has an incredibly active technology community. A creative culture. Tons of students. Progressive politics. More pubs than days in the year. And importantly, people here have ambition to have a positive effect in the world. They start co-ops, bands, festivals, meet-ups, businesses, better supermarkets, Christmas day swim clubs!

We have the only Green Party MP in the country, Caroline Lucas, an important voice in Parliament. We recently completed Rampion, one of the largest wind farms in Europe. We host conferences such as Meaning and The Good Tech Conf. Brighton is home to East Sussex Credit Union, and one of the largest and longest running Pride festivals…. the list goes on and on. As the Brighton tourism slogan used to say, “it’s the place to be”.

For my American friends, imagine what Boulder is to San Francisco, that’s Brighton to London.

Inheriting the Brightoneers

When I knew I was moving back I started reconnecting to people, trying to find out what I’d missed, and what opportunities there were.

Tom Nixon started Brightoneers in 2013. When we met up I laid out my ideas, and my vision, that maybe Brighton could be a destination for people wanting to start impactful businesses. Where they could find their people, learn and grow, and we could together put Brighton on the global stage as the place to be, but this time for the emerging businesses the world needs.

Brightoneers is a community of over 500 change-makers in Brighton. Perfect! We agreed that I would take over from Tom, present my vision, and get a feel for the appetite from the people that are here already and doing this.

Join us, we meet every last Thursday of the month.

Getting to the point

Last week The Platform closed its doors.

The Platform is a social enterprise hub creating, inspiring and supporting the growth of business for good for a better world.

That sounds familiar!

While this is not the kind of serendipity anyone would hope for, there is an opportunity. What if we dive in and attempt to support that community while prototyping a new home. We have an immediate user need, and potentially an immediate first cohort of tenants.

The ask!

There are enough coworking spaces in Brighton, and my vision is not simply to rent desks out (while those are of course needed), but to create a destination — a club house maybe. Somewhere people can gather, work, meet, learn, and collaborate.

So the hunt is on for a suitable host venue. Maybe short term while we learn ourselves, prototyping a space, working with our members. But also, at the lowest possible cost. In the true agile spirit, I want to be flexible, move fast, iterate, throw away and start again when needed. I want to move in on Monday, but make sure we can be out in short notice. Think of it as a pop-up, that you could host. Do you have space? Know of space? Know of people that might know of space?

Message me today, let’s see if we can home our ready made community.

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Use your space for good

photo borrowed from Browser London

There are ‘tech for good’ project teams springing up more and more, tackling difficult problems, and trying to have a positive impact. But they’re often voluntary, unfunded groups, and they usually don’t have anywhere to meet and work.

This is where you come in.

If you have a space, this could be one of the easiest ways to add value to a worthwhile project. It could be a meeting room, or just some desks, and it won’t cost you anything.

I’m offering to play matchmaker, all you need to do is tell me a little about your space and I’ll connect you to teams as they get in touch with me.

Fill in this form. And thank you so much!

Need a space for your team? Say hello by email, tell me where you are, and what you need a space for and I’ll try and find you somewhere.

If this goes well I’ll formalise some of the process, but for now, all volunteers of space appreciated and I owe you one :)

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