Follow by Email

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Gibraltar Concept

In December 2012 my business partner Graham, Office Manager Andrea, lead designer Zane and myself stood in the middle of our new office and looked at each other. We had exactly the same thought, we are never going to fill this space with our own staff. True, we knew what we were buying. Prime location, easy access and completely refurbished. It was too good an opportunity to let go. At the time, we had two choices, turn the entire office into a Google style location with pool table, TV, PlayStation and table tennis or, a more sensible idea was to sub-let to another company.

During the winter I was also in discussion with Chris Bruno from Just Consulting about just how lonely it was in Gibraltar as a tech related business. Sure, the gaming companies are based here and employ a massive proportion of tech people. However, they are very insular and tend to huddle in groups with "Atari" or "iMaciavellian" t-shirts on. Between us however, we sort of knew a few people trying to do something different but everything was very fragmented.

Fast forward a few months and the concept of Easy.Office was born. We had the office space and meeting room setup, branding finished and the online presence created. We had created Gibraltar's first collaborative workspace.

The Gibraltar Concept

As important as the space was, the concept was greater than the bricks and mortar. Having seen the way gaming companies had become an insulated entity we knew we had to keep the community away from falling into the same trap.

Open to all

For the community to work we have to ensure everyone is included, no matter what they bring to the table.

Open Minded

Community members need to keep an open mind when going through their ideas, concepts and plans with other members.

Providers and Start-ups

A community solely created out of entrepreneurs is going to fail. We need both start-ups and service providers such as marketing, legal and professional experts.

Community Led

A start-up community cannot be created by a government agency. It is not a "fad" nor is it a big tick on a political agenda. Communities take years to develop and need to be bred, not bought.


Meeting other local entrepreneurs and networking is probably the biggest aspect of developing the community. Arranging regular, attended meet-ups can truly connect people.

Progress so far

I would say we are about 6 months away from being able to start really putting the meat on the bones of the community. We still have an awful lot to do to get this done. It has taken 11 months to get to meet the government about the community but we are planning our first meet-up at Christmas with 60 local entrepreneurs on the invite list.

We can but try. The potential is there, we just need to start the ball rolling.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Stand out from the Crowd (Funding)

You may or may not have heard of Crowdfunding. As the name suggests, it is the concept of a larger than normal group of people investing  in your product/service. It is not a new concept but it has gathered significant momentum over the last 2-3 years because of the impact of social media and the vast number of online digital properties looking for funding.

Star Citizen - Star Investment
I doubt many of you have even heard of Star Citizen. An upcoming MMO (massive multiplayer online) which currently holds the record for the largest ever funding. $17m. Yes, $17m. Check out their initial listing on Kick Starter:

34,397 people invested over $2m in 30 days back in 2012. This figure has now risen to over $17.3m over the last 12 months. That is a serious investment.

Size Doesn't Matter
Star Citizen may have had made all the headlines but the size of the business and funding doesn't need to be on this scale. Imagine you have an idea for a Sushi Bar in Gibraltar. Easy source of materials and labour, large local and tourism trade and reasonable locations for the business. You need £300,000 to get the project off the ground. Attracting one investor may be bad for both parties. High potential risk for the investor, big gamble for you having a sole partner.

Through Crowd Funding you may be able to generate funds from 500-1000 people thus reducing their financial risk but also reducing your accountability to a sole party.

There are other advantages to Crowdfunding:

Visibility: your product/service is brought to market and viewed by hundreds of potential customers.

Engagement: you are able to engage with potential investors and customers across a broad range of subjects

Feedback: mostly importantly you get feedback on your product before you launch.

Be Careful of Strangers Bearing Gifts
As will all good businesses and ideas they eventually get copied or have the idea stolen. The key to crowdfunding is your visibility but this can also lead to potential competitors moving into your market before you are ready to launch. Unfortunately you will always have to deal with this if your idea is good.

Are you ready?
The question you should be asking is whether crowdfunding is appropriate for your business and whether you feel you have a product ready to be scrutinised at whatever stage you are at.