Liz Douglass

Social Startup 48

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Last weekend I was a participant in Social Startup 48. I was a really enjoyable weekend full of great conversation, new people and big ideas and I was really pleased that ThoughtWorks was one of the sponsors.


The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a terrific talk from Andrew Mahar about his projects including Infoxchange. After that we divided into groups and spent an hour at talking through our initial suggestions for social enterprises. My team was the sustainability team and we converged on the idea for creating ‘a platform for recycling’ for our initial pitch.

On the Saturday morning all the teams started early developing their ideas. My team grabbed a wheely whiteboard and started to flesh out our platform idea using the business model canvas and some freehand drawing. We realized within an hour that a whole recycling platform was too big to chew so we pivoted and tried to come up with some fresh ideas that were more tangible. By lunchtime we thought we had a plan – pop-up hard rubbish collection events.

One of the highlights of the weekend for me was the talk that we had on Saturday at lunchtime from Marcus Westbury who founded Renew Newcastle:

“Renew Newcastle aims to find artists, cultural projects and community groups to use and maintain these buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped. Renew Newcastle is not set up to manage long term uses, own properties or permanently develop sites but to generate activity in buildings until that future long term activity happens.”

After lunch on Saturday we had the opportunity to meet with some of our mentors and go through our progress so far. I was really impressed with all the terrific ideas and people that I met over the weekend. We had some great mentors including Susan Jones from ReadySetStartup and Tia Saunders from Zookal. When we tried to explain it to our mentors we realized we didn’t really have a great business model at all so it was back to the drawing board for us. By the end of the day we’d decided on a bulky item recycling service for people who live in high rise apartments called ReMoveMe.

On Sunday there was more crunching of ideas. Our group focused on whether our enterprise would really be viable and how we could grow it. Other teams got out into the street to shoot videos, pick up matching tee-shirts for their pitches from Dimmys and conduct surveys. The energy in the room for the whole weekend was amazing and many of our presenters mentioned it when they walked in.

Sadly the weekend had to close at some point. All the team pitches on Sunday evening were amazingly creative and collaborative. I think all the participants spoke and it was great to see so many guests in the room at Inspire9 for the final session. ReMoveMe was voted the best idea by the judges :-).

I had a real ball at SS48 and I’d encourage everyone to participate in a weekend event if they get the chance.

Written by lizdouglass

September 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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