Think Forward, Act Now – Lambeth Entrepreneurs Forum

LEF for wordpress

People who knows me well, also know that my personal slogan is “Think Global, Act Local and Think Forward, Act Now”. That is my approach to everything, including economy.

Think Global, Act Local

Next Tuesday, the 2nd of June, I will be pleased to be one of the mediators of the Community Think Tank at the LEF – Lambeth Entrepreneurs Forum.

TTBWhat is it? The LEF is part of a worldwide movement Transition Town Brixton. TTB’s vision is to create a new culture of Community Supported Local Economy which fosters a resilient, independent local economy that supplies the real needs of local people, builds connections, creates new local livelihoods and keeps wealth local.

TTB’s co-founder Duncan Law has said:

Duncan“TTB wants to unable the community to invest all sorts of resources, from money through childcare to moral support, in creating and keeping the local economy we’d like to see.

We want to build a community of Lambeth local investors that understands the benefit of investing local and ensuring a vibrant, diverse local economy that is able to ultimately compete with the big corporates”

Think Forward, Act Now

library-of-things-logoWe all know that startups, whatever their nature is, need to go lean and go fast.

During tkitchentablehe LEF, five selected social enterprises will pitch to their local community with the aim ofpledging to invest money, but also time, resources, skills, enthusiasm, Facebook likes, hugs, and basically any other kind of support.

graingrocerThe Community Think Tank will be in the afternoon, together with a Pitch and Pledge session with the selected social enterprises, such as The Kitchen Table Projects, The Grain Grocer, Spiral, The Library of Things.

Networking (+ food!)

LEF speechbubble LogoThe LEF will also be a networking opportunity for local entrepreneurs, investors, decision-makers, and residents, and for all to have a part to play in having the kind of local economy they want to see in Lambeth and in the world.

Last but not least, there will be locally sourced food as well as beer especially brewed for the event by Brixton Brewery!

I will be very pleased to see entrepreneurs, investors and local people networking and fostering the Lambeth local economy. I would also like to know what are the insights of the Tech scene about the event and if it is something that might be replicated in other boroughs or towns.

Tickets are still available at www.lambethlef.eventbrite.co.uk.

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Why Entrepreneurs Should Believe in Magic

I have always loved fantasy books and movies, because I have always loved fairy tales. When I was a kid I used to paint on t-shirts and fabric. I used to paint fairies. Therefore my parents started to give me many presents on the topic: books about fairies and legends, flower crowns, dream catchers, decorative witches, small elves and goblins. My granma even sowed for me an elfish dress. Obviously, when I found out that ABC produced a series about fairy tales I couldn’t resist to watch it. I have to be honest: I spent several hours during the past week to watch “Once Upon A Time”. Let me be honest twice: I loved it. The reason I love fairy tales is because I believe in magic, in a way (Actually, when I was 15 I wrote a letter to Harry Potter, asking him to help our world to face corruption and misery…but that’s another story). However, yes, I do believe in magic. But what is magic? Once Upon A Time shows it clearly: it’s LOVE. Love is the most powerful spell. Since I moved to London I have considered as talismans all the most recent presents that my parents and my siblings gave me, because they are the symbol of their love. Lately my sister gave me a watch that is not a watch. I mean, it is, but it looks like a bracelet. I have secretly told myself that it was a magic bracelet. About 2 months ago I volunteered for the Startup Weekend at WeWork in Southbank, London. It’s not the first time I volunteer, I already wrote about it. On that Saturday night I lost my magic watch. At the beginning I didn’t even realise it. During the evening I was playing a game with the Startup Weekend staff, when Zee asked me if I had a watch. At that moment I realised that I didn’t. My first thought was that I would have never find it, because it was too small. I went on my hunt already thinking that I would have never seen my bracelet again. It was just a watch, but I felt lost without it. Everybody wanted to help me, uselessly: the bracelet was disappeared. The last chance was that it ended up into the bins. There were about 10 bin bags in a corner, about to be taken away in a couple of hours. I decided to try to see if I could find my watch there, even if I was perfectly aware that it was an impossible challenge: that evening we all ate noodles, and the noodles were stored in brown boxes. My bracelet was of the same colour, it was literally like tilting at windmills. After opening 6 bags, I was giving up. The staff was ready to leave the place, but a friend, Xavi, told me to try the last one. I opened it without any hope, seriously. And there it was. Inside one of the noodle boxes. That was really magic, and it was magic because it was love. It was love what made me looking for my bracelet for so long and being so stubborn in my quest: it represented my sister’s love. And it was the love of my friend that gave me the strength of not giving up. I know: it’s just a bracelet. Or just a watch, depending on the point of view. Nevertheless, for me it represents everything an entrepreneur should count on: friends, family and himself. Friends and family might be there to economically help you, but ultimately they are there to support you when you lose your wings, as Violet Fairy’s sisters. They are there to protect you, like Flora, Fauna and Merryweather with Aurora. They are there to help you to reach your goals, like the Fairy Godmother. And, ultimately, they are there to forgive your mistakes and give you second chances, in order for you to be the person you wish to be and to build your own path, like the Blue Fairy did with Pinocchio. And you, the entrepreneur, you are there to feel their love to be confident in yourself, and to be your own hero. That’s why every entrepreneur should know that he’ll never succeed alone. Of course he has strength and power in himself, but to discover it he needs magic, he needs love.

Arsène Lupin the 3rd

lupinWhy, It’s the way of thieves to risk their   lives” answered Arsène Lupin to the Lady Clarisse de Cagliostro (Hayao Miyazaki, The Castle of Cagliostro, 1979).

Lupin the 3rd could be a great example for every entrepreneur for taking the risk.

But what is it that famous “risk”?

The word share the same root of a word of my language, risicare, which means to dare (and a notorious phrase in Italy is “chi non risica non rosica” which means who doesn’t dare doesn’t gnaw made me think about my country, but maybe I’ll speak about it in another post). The term’s meaning, of course, has evolved since ages, and now its proper meaning is difficult to determine, because it means different things to different people, because a key component of risk is choice. (Khan, Zsidisin, 2012)

That is easy to understand, moreover if we consider that usually we see risks as something dangerous for use: we see them like something more related to loss than to gain. But, as the risks are strictly connected to the choices, we can always choose. goldfish jumping out of the water

To manage a sustainable and and efficient business, we will need a strong business model, and every business model does consider the risks, how to handle them, and how to make them profitable.

As Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine wrote in their How to Build Risk into Your Business Model – Smart companies design their innovations around their managing risk (HBR, May 2011), many companies redesign their business model to reduce their risks. They also underline that “it can also reveal unsuspected opportunities for creating value by adding risk”

Alan Hall defines it as a synonymous of the concept of entrepreneurship. He also presents, according to the data provided by the US SBA (Small Business Administration), the fact that more than half of the startups is supposed to fail within the first three years of existence. “Of those that remain, about one third will make a profit, another third will break even, and the balance will continue to lose money. After ten years, only a handful of companies will be in business.” (Hall, 2011)

So it is a really negative perspective.

media_httpfarm9static_IgjDu.jpg.scaled500But let’s think about it. I mean, let’s think about the reasons which make him saying this,

Why so often the startups encounter a failure, and which is one of the most important risk to face?

Hall lists the possible reasons which could be: not enough customers, insufficient revenues, formidable competitors, a shortage of cash, poor execution of a business plan, uncontrolled expenses and minimal gross margins.

Regarding the competitors, Girotra and Netessine (HBR, May 2011) write that companies create value by being better at managing risk than their competitors are, and so if an entrepreneurship could manage the risks more than the others, it could even earn something from those risks. They also say that the only way to win is to identify where the risks are in the value chain of the business model, determine whether it’s possible to reduce them, shift them to other people, or even assume them.

The major risk you should keep is that your product or service is not even better than the other ones, but it is just different. This is the point. You cannot be 100% sure of it, but you has to believe that – and, even more important, your employees have to believe it, too, because all the company in this way could demonstrate it just with its behaviour- .

Of course you’d like an example, would you?

Well, I work as a waitress for Franco Manca, the one in 76, Northcote Road, London.

333827_230588850401811_945544208_oSince I made my trial, all the colleagues I met they were absolutely sure of the importance and the originality of the product we were going to sell: a proper Napolitan pizza in London, of an honest price, and, more than everything, made with the original recipe, natural ingredients and a sustainable way of cooking. That was enough for me, even if being a waitress is not my dreamt job, otherwise I should not attend my MACE at Kingston University. And this is why I could be proud of working for the Franco Manca company. 

Now, after a few years (the first restaurant opened in Brixton Market Row 4 years ago) the label is famous all around the UK, and I found also customers coming there from outside the Country, just for its name. And, what is more impressive is that that Franco Manca doesn’t have a huge marketing department, so basically its fame is just based on word-of-mouth.

I really don’t want to write a fake advertising post (at least I’m not paid for that!!), but I am writing what I learned from my master and my working experience in London, and I am just trying to link them: the company I am working for is just one of the examples which I know could make you understand that taking the risk for a product you think is a winner it is definitely worth it.

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