As with part one, this is another snapshot of the Shine 2010 experience. Aside from the stuff covered here, there was also lots of business development support being delivered – both on one to one and a group basis – which I didn’t go to but which other social entrepreneurs told me was extremely helpful.
I arrived around two on Saturday and met a social entrepreneur I’d met for the first time on Friday who, as I explained a bit about a project that my social enterprise is working on, suggested I should talk another social entrepreneur who was working on something similar.
The social entrepreneur in question was Tom Gaskin, who is developing a project called Our House – which aims to develop two-way online communications between housing associations and residents. It turned out Tom was one of the three finalists in Unltd Live Pitch which rounded off the unconference.
The Live Pitch was a social enterprise cross between Dragons Den and The X-Factor with three social entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas – shortlisted from 12 who’d turned up in the morning and presented their idea to the Unltd team – and receiving feedback from three expert judges before the audience got to vote on who would go home with an Unltd Level 1 award (of up to £5,000).
Aside from Tom Gaskin, the contestants were Anna Pearson of Spots of Time – a project that aims to match up volunteers who can do performing arts, with organisations who’d like volunteers to come and do performing arts for the people who use their services – and Mikkel Hansen of Urban Green Line, a project that aims to set up a green trail through London connecting communities to green spaces and sustainable organisations.
The judges: Natalie Campbell of Enterprise UK, Geraldine Blake of Community Links and Jess Tyrrell of Germination provided robust but mostly positive feedback loosely based on compere Cliff Prior of Unltd’s suggested ‘Love it, Build it, Leave it’ format before the audience got a chance to chip in with their thoughts – some of which were delivered immediately on Twitter and could be viewed on the big screen behind the presenting area.
Then, while the judges conferred over the final recommendation, the pitching social entrepreneurs had a chance to ask the audience for suggestions of where to find (or direct offers of) practical help help in taking their projects forward.
The judges, though supportive of all three projects, unanimously backed Urban Green Line to receive the cash but the audience disagreed and – on a clear hand vote – awarded the £5K to Spots of Time.
I was one of the few to vote for Our House. This was probably partly because I’d had a chance to talk Tom about the project earlier in the afternoon so I had more of an idea of what it was all about than could be communicated in a five minute pitch. But also – at an audience event with an audience made up of anyone other than housing professionals or housing association tenants – an idea (however good) for a project about communicating with housing associations is unlikely to connect as well with most audience members as projects about the arts or saving the planet.
But all three contestants would’ve more than justified a punt of up to £5,000 (and I imagine the unsuccessful ones may still get the cash through the usual application process). The Live Pitch – with its combination of entertainment, colloboration and serious business – was a fitting end to Shine 2010. I’ll do some more on some of the ideas and issues raised at Shine 2010 over the next week or so.