Weekly column – every Thursday
Jay McGregor takes you through the best (and worst) of the news, right here every Thursday. Viewer discretion advised.
Crowdfunding is in vogue. Strangers giving you pennies for the promise of huge returns on your original idea is a win-win, right?
I mean, think of the pot loads of cash to be made from fake eyelashes for cats. But as ‘revolutionary’ as these ideas may seem, the concept of utilising multiple small investors has been around as long as the term ‘spare change’ has been synonymous with the homeless.
Take my friend Barry, who lives at the end of my road. Barry is a local institution, he’s been crowdfunding for years. Barry has developed a beautifully simple and surprisingly successful quid-pro-quo system with local residents where he dances and they give him money, at knife point.
As far as I’m aware Barry’s system is both unique and self-developed. Yet, Barry gets no prestigious seal of approval from the FSA, as Crowdcube did this week.
Given that Crowdcube applied for authorisation from the FSA two years ago, we can only assume the FSA has got a massive backlog of applications to wade through, so Barry still might have a chance. Next on their list? Regulating the banks to avoid some sort of financial cras….oh.
Not just a digital lab, this is a M&S digital lab
Barry does like the finer things in life though, and by that I mean he likes crowdfunding outside of M&S express, because M&S express shoppers are kind, caring, philanthropic people.
To provide further venues for Barry, M&S has generously set up a new venture to help cultivate and nurture upcoming retail technology. Just like the guy who brings orange juice to a house party, M&S has decided to jump on the East London tech scene bandwagon and set up offices in Paddington, the other side of London.
The new venture has been nicknamed the ‘Digital Lab’, which, in layman’s terms, means a room with computers. Or, as some people in the ‘work’ industry call it, an office. To summarise, because this is a complicated concept, M&S has built an office in West London to think of new ideas that will make money.
M&S want their new office to have that “Silicon Roundabout” start-up mentality and it will be headed up by Kyle McGinn, a key player in the design of the BBC iPlayer.
So, just like other offices, lots of people will spend their day watching back episodes of Bargain Hunt.
First task on the office Lab’s whiteboard? Crack Croydon. M&S’ unique brand of middle-class sensibilities hasn’t been welcome in Croydon since they tried to gentrify a local favorite, chips.
Or as the then advertising campaign read ‘luxuriously suede La Bonnette potatoes, submerged in a blend of rapeseed and groundnut oil, fried gently and topped off with flutter of Venezuelan sea salt’. Naturally this went down like a business pitch in an elevator. Croydonites are a no nonsense bunch.
The Croydon Facelift
No one is more no nonsense then Croydon Tech City founder, Jonny Rose. Jonny has embarked on a heroic mission to turn Croydon into a place that people voluntarily spend time in. And, hopefully, start a business in.
The initiative is truly inspiring, not just because it’s a new tech hub, but because it’s giving back to community with projects to help kids get a foothold in the tech industry. Like Code Clubs for school kids, which teaches them basic programming skills, whilst simultaneously taking them off of the streets. Local police say muggings in the area are down 15% but cybercrime is up 80%. Teach a man to fish…..