TECH HUB creating a community for like-minded techie entrepreneurs
Securing finance for your start-up
Inside Shoreditch's pop-up mall
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t is a great pleasure to be asked to provide this foreword to the first issue of Tech City magazine. Some people ask whether Tech City can be the next Silicon Valley, but it’s not about imitating other clusters. It’s about celebrating our own innovation and success. It’s great to see that while the area is growing, it hasn’t lost any of its dynamism. If anything, the sense of community and creativity is growing too, as companies increasingly look to share and collaborate with one another. That is why initiatives like this publication are important: we must celebrate our success stories and embrace what differentiates us from the other established and emerging clusters developing around the world, whether they’re in Silicon Valley, New York, Bangalore or Berlin. We set up the Tech City Investment Organisation in April 2011 to support the tech cluster that was already growing organically. Our purpose is simple: to do everything we can to support companies in the community and those looking to set up here, and to accelerate the sustainable growth of this ecosystem. Tech City is fast becoming a global centre for entrepreneurship and innovation. In the past few months, we’ve seen Tech City companies like Songkick secure funding from top VC firms like Sequoia, and the opening of Google Campus – the largest purpose-built space for start-ups in Europe. This May, Digital Shoreditch celebrate the innovation and culture coming out of east London and in June, Le Web will make its first visit to London, bringing together entrepreneurs, technologists and investors. The digital industries have huge potential to be a growth driver for the British economy. Recent research from Boston Consulting Group projected that the digital sector will account for 12.4% of UK GDP by 2016. One of the most promising signs of this growth opportunity is May’s Silicon Milk-Roundabout jobs fair, which hosts more than 100 companies recruiting for over 800 jobs in Tech City. It’s not just home-grown companies that are flourishing in east London – some of the world’s biggest technology companies are bringing investment and jobs to the area too. Qualcomm is carrying out Europe’s first trial of wireless electric cars here. Cisco and Intel are separately partnering with University College London and Imperial College London to lead research into digital connected cities to develop technologies that will transform our urban areas. The establishment of the Open Data Institute, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt will help develop the capability of UK businesses to exploit new commercial opportunities and help foster a new generation of open data entrepreneurs. Tech City is well on its way to becoming the digital capital of Europe. We at Tech City Investment Organisation are looking forward to working with and supporting the community, helping to create sustainable, long-term growth for London, and for the UK. Eric Van Der Kleij CEO, Tech City Investment Organisation
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contents Richie Coulson Richie Coulson, senior business development manager, Lloyds TSB Commercial. Richie has 20 years' banking experience having joined Lloyds TSB in 1993 from NatWest. He currently runs the Commercial Business Development team for The Lloyds Banking Group in Central London. Read his financial advice on Page 14
Maurizio Fantato Maurizio is a PR and marketing communications consultant at 4CMplus, with an impressive track record of B2B operations in sectors ranging from online events, chemical risk, nanotechnology and the environment. He imparts his expert comms knowledge on Page 20
Angela Bucknor Angela is head of marketing at Waltham Forest College in London and is a frequent contributor to leading publications in the UK. Read Angela's article on training your staff on Page 29
Business Fashion Food and Drink Fitness Gadgets Property
Features 8-35 37-39 47 48-51 52-53 54-67
Sharkius 10-11 The flourishing social gamers Tech Hub 18-19 Bringing start-ups together Old Truman Brewery 30-35 The East End's arts quarter
Special Boxpark 41-45 From luxury pie and mash to community crafts and fashion, we delve into the East End's bustling pop-up mall
Photo: Matt Locke @ www.flickr.com
The beautiful game Fantasy football entrepreneur Tim Morgan offers some sound advice on getting started in business
ombining his love for technology and football, Tim Morgan has created the popular online haven for fantasy footballers, Picklive. Leaving a life working in the City, Morgan co-founded Mint Digital. It was while at Mint that the development of the game Football3s began to form, eventually becoming Picklive. Along with Picklive co-founders, Noam Sohachevsky and Krzysztof Zylawy, plus a cast of team-members that have been integral to the success of the company over the past two years, Picklive now boasts over 20,000 users. The main source of traffic is the social media giant Twitter. ‘We're the number one fantasy football product on Twitter,' says Morgan. Picklive uses a different style of play compared to other products available, which contributes greatly to its popularity. ‘Picklive is daily fantasy football. Historically, fantasy football has been played over seasons (nine months),’ says Morgan. ‘We were the first people in the world to condense it into a single day, a single match and even
Bringing fantasy to life: Picklive's style of play is popular with players
I have a great support network of entrepreneurs who make me feel like I'm not going mad a single 5-minute period. Customers pick players and accumulate points in the usual way but the games are rapid-fire tournaments and are much more exciting.’ As for the competitors, The Sun’s offering, Dream Team, boasts similarities to Picklive, though according to Morgan: ‘Our product is so different that we don't really see them as competitors.’ Entrepreneurship is not an easy road to take; starting your own company is an incredible risk not to be taken lightly. Keeping like-minded people around you seems to be vital to creating a flourishing business. ‘The biggest problem is isolation,’ explains Morgan. ‘Most people are not entrepreneurs and don't understand why you would want to make sacrifices or do something differently. I have a great support network of other entrepreneurs who make me feel like I'm not going mad.’ It’s also not uncommon to have some reservations about your chosen business route. In Tim Morgan’s case it is the issue of needing a gambling licence, but not necessarily liking that as a business model, and the occasional presentation of the overly irate football fan. ‘We don't see ourselves as a gambling company. We have to have
a gambling license to offer fantasy football for cash but I don't like gambling as a business model. Football opinion is also overly aggressive; the world would be a better place if football fans didn't feel the need to get so wound up by the game,’ offers Morgan. 2012 is proving to be an exciting year for many businesses, and Picklive sees the pending sports events of the year as a big opportunity. ‘It’s a European Championship and Olympic year,’ says Morgan. ‘The summer is such a bumper time for us we're not looking beyond that.’ Advice for promising future entrepreneurs goes as follows: ‘You can find out very cheaply whether there’s demand for your product/business/idea before you get in too deep. Do that before you've even decided you're going to be an entrepreneur and you'll be fine.’
Success In the cut-throat world of social gaming, Sharkius have gone from strength to strength. We learn how the Tech City gamers are reeling in the deals
WORDS Jeremy Holland
acebook. We all know it; most use it. We check our friends and family’s status updates and upload pictures of pets and kids, all the while wishing there was a ‘dislike’ button. Many of us also enjoy building farms and buying penthouses in Millionaire City, judging by the 500 million users who have made Mark Zucker’s baby the biggest gaming platform in the world. Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Square Innix are just a few of the industry whales who have decided to take the plunge and develop games for the social networking giant. London-based Sharkius Games, founded in 2007 by David Kramaley and David Beaton, isn’t a household name just yet, but has been part of the Facebook experience since the original mafia game, Mafia Cities, and city-building app, Metropolis – which was later sold to a third party, giving the British start-up its first major cash infusion.
He said that during the first years, there were moments when the company’s bank account had dwindled to a few pounds above zero. As the dedicated Sharkius team of programmers and artists churned out code and designs, he and David Kramaley took advantage of their office’s location in Tech City and sought out angel investors. ‘We went around a circle of tables and had five minutes to pitch before moving on,’ Beaton explained, not denying the comparison to speed-dating. ‘That round of investment saved us. We could expand and compete with the giants, such as Disney, EA and Zynga, while adding a team of highly experienced veterans to our board.’ Sharkius took advantage of its new sense of financial security and set about developing MeToYouMyPlace.com, launched in conjunction with popular plush toy makers, Carte Blanche Greetings, in 2010. The role-playing game centres on the
Passion... dedication... combined with a bit of luck, you can’t fail to make an impact Surviving change ‘It was a different world back then,’ CEO David Beaton shared. Small companies such as Sharkius were able to operate mostly autonomously and keep the majority of the virtual currency earned from their gaming. But as the social networking site grew, so did Facebook’s demands. With their platform constantly changing, there are constantly new obstacles to overcome, such as the removal of game-to-player notifications, which had been a fundamental building block for retaining players. More recently, a new policy agreement has been put in place, which requires providers to pay a 30% hosting fee. Five years ago, such a drastic change in the ability to generate income might have meant the end of Sharkius, but Beaton looks forward to the new challenges, drawing confidence and strength from past struggles and lessons learned.
much loved characters Tatty Teddy, and My Blue Nose Friends. The toys are sold online and in UK stores, with a special tag that children and their parents use to unlock an online version of the character, who sets out to rescue missing friends. ‘There is a greater pressure to deliver a bug-free, top-notch product now,’ Beaton offered when asked to compare the first years creating games for Facebook, such as Meerkat Wars, to the current crop – which includes the popular Fishing Stars, where you might hook a gilled and finned Lady Gaga, among other celebrities. A programmer by profession, Beaton learnt the hard way about the cut-throat side of the gaming business when his previous attempt at a start-up ended in acrimony. He agreed the old adages, ‘work with people you trust,’ and ‘get everything in writing,’ still held true, even in today’s virtual
Catch a celebrity fish to earn cash in Sharkius' Fishing Stars game
economy. ‘Same with having passion and dedication for what you do,’ he added. ‘Combined with a bit of luck, you cannot fail to make an impact!’ He feels that both he and Sharkius have come through the days of dashing from table to table in search of loving investors, stronger and better able to weather the more competitive climate. The present board is enthusiastic and supportive, allowing the company and its employees to concentrate on what they do best, which is release cutting edge games not only for Facebook, but Chinese and Russian social networking sites, too. ‘We’ve doubled our user base already this year,’ Beaton said, when asked about plans for 2012, ‘and that’s just the beginning.’ Sharkius spent last year reorganising, creating game engines, and now stands as one of the most respected social gaming companies in the UK. ‘This year is where we tackle the giants,’ he declared, ‘with budgets thousands of times larger than our own. Now is when we put our biggest plans into action, and see the fruits of our labour.’ Having already survived the challenges that see most fledgling start-ups fail before their five-year anniversary, Beaton spoke optimistically about the future. There are exciting new partnerships to explore, games for Facebook and other platforms to develop. His goal? To ensure Sharkius flourishes in the whale-infested gaming waters and becomes a long lasting success story that lives up to the buzz surrounding Tech City.
target market Search engine marketing has grown exponentially in the UK, so just how has social media changed the way we campaign? WORDS Neil Adams
earch engine marketing, or SEM, has become one of the most important service industries for companies looking to run marketing programmes online. Despite the recession and the myriad of financial problems many businesses are facing, this is one of the few areas seeing solid growth, year on year.
The rise of social media This growth has been spurred by a plethora of factors including increased internet usage, the rising importance of social media, and the growth in smartphone use and tablet technology. Our heavy reliance on the internet for work and pleasure means we are spending more time online. However, social media has become the most used form of online entertainment, and media buying across social media platforms has risen dramatically. The growth of new technologies has made mobile advertising of central importance to reaching and engaging with customers.
Overall, the opportunities for companies to engage with and sell to customers online are growing exponentially and it is therefore unsurprising that SEM is growing in direct proportion. Online marketing is simply proving to be one of the most cost-effective ways of advertising and increasing sales.
A shift in spending Due to the economic slowdown, 2011 was an interesting year of growth within the SEM sector. As overall budgets are squeezed, many companies are simply moving their advertising spend towards a more direct return-on-investment based form of marketing, and away from traditional mediums. According to a report from Econsultancy, 59% of companies and 79% of agencies have reported increased costs for Google Ad Words campaigns; but have increased their spends nevertheless. Investment in paid search has also grown significantly, with 39% of companies now spending over £100,000 annually on ‘paid for’ search traffic. Investment
in search engine optimisation has also boasted year-on-year growth, reaching £514 million in 2011. In terms of social media, three quarters of agencies have reported an increased pay-per-click investment in Facebook. Across the board companies and agencies have highlighted the growing importance of social media, and the increasing importance of mobile technology. Overall, it is clear that online spend is becoming increasingly important to companies looking to expand their reach in the most cost-effective way. Having an extensive online presence is paramount to business success. SEM growth is indicative of the importance the internet plays in the new digital society, and corporate success is increasingly becoming tied to how a company is able to adapt to this medium. The internet has undoubtedly revolutionised and continues to revolutionise the business world, and its importance cannot be underestimated.
Having an extensive online presence is paramount to business success
expert voice WORDS Richie Coulson, senior business development manager, Lloyds TSB Commercial
grow UP Recent national and international events have shown that UK businesses remain susceptible to wider economic trends, and this can lead to a lack of confidence among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) about growing their business and securing finance to do so. A key part of restoring business confidence is providing access to finance, which plays a crucial role for firms looking at their future needs. Investing is essential in order to capitalise on expansion opportunities and enable growth, and so UK companies must not be put off by perceived barriers, which they believe may prevent them securing funding. Funding businesses is important not only to support local enterprise but also to stimulate and contribute to economic growth. Lloyds TSB Commercial offer a range of
Securing finance to build your business may be closer than you’d thought
complementary funding packages, from day-to-day banking to loan and overdraft facilities, as well as asset-based finance, through Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance. Other funding options are also available, which may be suited to small businesses. The government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, for example, is an ideal funding option for firms who have a viable business proposal, but lack the security to secure conventional funding. Another option for SMEs is European Investment Bank (EIB) loans, which can enable firms with fewer than 250 employees to benefit from lower interest rates and to finance 100% of an individual company’s investment costs, up to a maximum of £11 million per project. Over the last three years the EIB has provided low-cost long-term loans totalling £2.3 billion to more than 7,500 small British
businesses, and last autumn Lloyds TSB secured a new £150 million tranche of EIB funding. Additionally, through the government’s recently announced National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), we will be able to offer our customers a reduction in the cost of finance of around 1% less than average interest rates, which we hope will help cash flow and cut overheads for small firms. The NLGS was designed to boost demand and encourage investment, which is vital to the economic recovery, and it enables us to offer a range of discounts on new term loans, leasing arrangements and hire purchase from £25,000 to £1m. It’s worth discussing the range of lending available with your bank, as some products are particularly well suited to particular business sectors. In recent years, demand for asset-based finance has grown in popularity and is seen by
many companies and lenders as an increasingly mainstream form of funding. It can be used either alone or in combination with other loans or overdrafts to structure innovative and creative lending packages that can free up working capital to fund further growth. One of the advantages of asset-based finance for sectors like manufacturing and engineering is that it can be used to release the value of assets such as machinery. Similarly, many businesses could find that invoice finance facilities, which leverage the value of invoices, can provide additional headroom and improve their cash flow from month to month.
Challenging perceptions While ongoing economic problems such as the euro crisis affect confidence across the UK, our latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey in February
nesses that finance may not be available, which is something we want to put right. To help raise awareness of the support available to businesses we have been running a programme of at least 200 seminars nationwide to provide expert guidance and support for SMEs as part of our 2012 SME Charter. We have made a £12 billion lending commitment to support SMEs in 2012 to help boost business confidence and fuel growth across the UK, and we still approve eight
out of ten applications for loans and overdrafts. Our local managers have the authority to agree lending up to £500,000, and since January 2010 we have supported more than 230,000 start-ups. Lloyds Banking Group is also on track to deliver its full year contribution to the Merlin lending agreement, in which the participating banks agreed to jointly make available gross new lending of £190 billion to creditworthy UK businesses, including £76 billion for SMEs.
showed that business activity grew across all the English regions, which measures up positively against the contractions in output seen across most of the eurozone. The higher levels of business output in February also contributed to moderate private sector employment growth across most of the English regions in the survey, as firms began to take on more staff to cope with rising workloads. Despite this, a perception remains among some busi-
In addition to Lloyds TSB’s Commercial and Commercial Finance arms, our private equity division, LDC, is playing a crucial role in supporting SMEs, and in the 12 months to December 2011, invested over £333 million in 17 companies. We encourage firms to actively seek out new opportunities in 2012 and to take full advantage of the guidance and support available to them from their lender as well as from business mentoring and development agencies. Now is an essential time to act in order to secure growth opportunities against high levels of competition.
Control your cash flow With bills, salaries and invoices to pay, an ongoing supply of funds is essential to business survival WORDS Andrew Dixon, executive director Bibby Financial Services
he economic climate of recent years has resulted in businesses struggling to secure funding, with many financial institutions lacking the appetite to back small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Sluggish growth in the economy and factors such as the rise in VAT at the start of 2011 meant banks were less inclined to lend money, and it also contributed to the caution felt by SMEs when approaching banks for funding and taking on further debt. However, with bills, invoices and salaries still requiring payment, and materials and equipment to be purchased, a healthy and ongoing supply of funds is integral to businesses’ survival and to realise ambitions for sustained growth. With this in mind, more and more businesses across the UK are reviewing the finance options available to them. According to 2011 statistics from the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA), invoice finance, or factoring, is one form of finance increasingly being used by SMEs.
What is invoice finance? Of all the challenges facing SMEs, generating cash and keeping it flowing can be two of the toughest. If your cash flow is suffering while you wait for your customers to pay their invoices, it may be appropriate to approach an invoice finance company to find out more about the options available. Generally speaking, invoice finance takes two main forms. The first option for many businesses is factoring; a flexible funding and collections facility.
Factoring Factoring helps to bridge the gap between raising an invoice and getting paid, giving businesses an immediate cash-injection and then an ongoing supply of working capital against the value of outstanding customer invoices as they are raised. Businesses can also benefit from the provider’s credit management and collections service: the provider will chase and collect outstanding payments on the firm’s behalf.
including bank-owned providers, independent companies like Bibby Financial Services and boutique firms, which provide services for just one or two niche industries. Typically, firms are introduced to a supplier through their bank, a broker, financial adviser or accountant. However, we are also seeing increasing numbers of businesses getting in touch directly with us. To help you choose a suitable factoring company to work with your business you should ask the following questions:
Discounting The other main option is invoice discounting; a flexible funding-only solution. Unlike factoring, the business maintains control of the sales ledger and continues to collect payments from its customers against outstanding invoices.
What does it cost? There are two fees involved. The first is for the cost of the finance. This can compare favourably with the cost of a bank overdraft. The second is for the service you receive, which on average is between 0.5% and 3% of annual turnover – but depends on the number of customers you deal with and the number of invoices you raise. Compare it against the cost of your existing credit control team and the savings you will make. But don’t decide based on cost alone: consider the quality of the service you receive and ensure you are comparing like for like.
✔ Are they a member of ABFA? ✔ What percentage of your invoices will be approved by the invoice financier and therefore funded? ✔ Who will look after your account and do you have access to the decision-makers? ✔ How will the invoice financier work with your customers? How will they communicate? Will they communicate by phone, mail or both? ✔ Are there any hidden charges?
Choosing a suitable provider
Securing funding in recent years has been important to businesses, not only in terms of business survival but also in building for growth. Many firms like the flexibility offered by invoice finance as it can help manage the peaks and troughs most businesses experience – without having to renegotiate a long-term financial arrangement.
There are now about 50 companies offering invoice finance facilities in the UK,
*To find out more about invoice finance, visit: bibbyfinancialservices.com
About Bibby Financial Services ■ Bibby Financial Services currently provide cash flow funding for nearly 3,940 businesses, handling annual client turnover of £3.9 billion and advancing in the region of £342 million. ■ In 2011 and 2012, the company was awarded a place in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, based on workplace performance and best practice.
Community spirit TechHub brings like-minded entrepreneurs from throughout the start-up ecosystem together, says co-founder Elizabeth Varley WORDS Tim Fuell ou’ve probably heard the name, you may even recognise the distinctive logo, but what do you really know about TechHub? I’ve worked in the area and the technology sector, and have even been to some of their events, but still I wasn’t entirely sure what they do, so I asked co-founder and TechHub’s project leader, Elizabeth Varley, for her own definition: ‘A community and workspace for technology entrepreneurs’ was the wellworked PR response but the energetic and enthusiastic entrepreneur is at pains to give that a very personal spin too: ‘We focus on bringing together people who are creating start-ups and those who are moving to the next stage of creating a company.’ She explains, ‘We bring together all the different elements in the tech start-up ecosystem. From large technology companies to students at university, governmental agencies, business angels, venture capitalists, service companies. If
you boil it right down, what we do is help start-ups get better, faster.’ The facts suggest they do too. The first space opened in July 2010 in City Road premises on Old Street roundabout. It is still used by members of the community today and has seen names including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales incorporate it into visits to the capital. TechHub’s growth is highlighted by their latest London project creating workspace for their members at Campus in Bonhill Street alongside Google, Springboard and others. London is only the starting point, too, as Varley points out: ‘The idea is to create a global network of TechHubs both physically and virtually. So, we opened in Riga in Latvia in February and we have a roadmap of a whole host of others opening during this year. We have about 40 potential partners in cities throughout the world who have all said they want to create the local TechHub there. The great thing about that is they are all entrepreneurs. They are all doing it
because they want to and because they need it for their communities.’ Yet, it is not just affordable shared offices for geeks. ‘Even though the workspace is the most visible part of what we do, that’s actually just a tool, it’s really the community that sits on top of that, that is the most important thing,’ says Varley TechHub’s events have really caught the media’s eye and attracted some good coverage, helping coin the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ tag enjoyed by the area. TechHub also hosts debates and community-showcase nights. ‘One of my favourite events that we do are the demo nights,’ identifies Varley. ‘That’s really an opportunity for start-ups to get up and show their products. They get three minutes to talk about what they’ve been working on and then they get questions fired at them. People apply to appear on demo nights, as they’ve got to a stage where they really need some feedback from the community and it’s a great way to
get people to say "hang on, have you thought about this?". Quite often people in the audience find they can help with bits, or put them in touch and it’s a really cool, vibrant environment.’ The events are exciting and you can feel the anticipation in the room before the speaker starts. It’s like a preliminary round of Dragon's Den in front of your peers, and as Varley admits, there are often some real gems on show: ‘It’s great to see what people are working on and coming up with. There will often be somebody you have never heard of before, and they stand up and show their product and you think "wow, that’s going to be on everybody’s phone in six months!", that’s really exciting.’ A second-time-around entrepreneur, Varley is using her experience to make sure TechHub fills the void that many others catering for the sector have left gaping: ‘We focus on product-oriented technology companies. That means companies creating something that then gets pushed out there into the world for people to use, whether consumer
or business-to-business. It means we don’t have members who are agents or consultants because that is a different type of business. Product start-ups usually have no money to begin with and more outlay – we want to support them by offering a non-expensive membership so they have a place to work and connect.’ Sign-up is simple: a yearly membership with application via an online form at techub.com, but membership is not guaranteed. ‘We do curate our membership, so we don’t take everybody. Partly because it is for product-only companies, but also because it is for people who are not just in it for cheap desk space, it is for people who want to be part of the community and want to get something from it or they want to contribute something to it. That really adds to the feel of the place. People are more likely to help each other out with things. That’s really nice.’ Varley is as enthusiastic as the people she hopes to inspire, too. ‘People are so generous with their time and with their expertise, when others say “you really
We help start-ups get better, faster
seem to know Ruby, can you give me a hand with something I am really stuck on”, or something like “I need a contact with a high street bank”. It’s so great seeing people clustering around somebody’s screen, seeing what they’re doing. That’s what it is all about. Sometimes it’s better to learn from people who have just been there and done it than experts who did it 10 years ago and who don’t necessarily really remember what it was like having no money and no time and having to slog it out.’ TechHub – and Varley herself – is very proud to have launched from Tech City. ‘We first opened in Shoreditch because there was already a strong techie cluster of people working nearby. It wouldn’t have made much sense to have set up somewhere and then told everybody to come and join us in an odd location, however cheap it was. It made perfect sense for us to open where there are other great technology companies because we also want to provide a focal point for the technology community. It’s not just about our members here, it is also about the community who come for events, who meet with our member companies and help them thrive.’ From her infectious chatter, Varley’s passion for her cause and location is clear as she concludes: ‘Shoreditch really is buzzing with entrepreneurial activity. I really love that, bumping into different people I know from other start-ups and running into them in the pub. It is a nice sense of belonging. As human beings I think we look for that. It’s nice.’ We couldn’t agree more.
The writing's on the wall for TechHub's flourishing community
Communication is king A good idea is nothing without a great comms plan: effective planning will ensure your start-up sets the right tongues wagging WORDS Maurizio Fantato
recently published White Paper advises businesses on how to succeed at times of economic recession. Compiled by B2B PR and marketing experts from the global network, Evoke PR, one of the paper’s key recommendations for established companies was to look again at their business models and existing marketing strategies so to refocus on innovative products and services through a combination of appropriate tactics and processes. New enterprises, particularly those in technology sectors, do not have this problem. They are already at the cutting edge of innovation, but they have other issues to contend with. The main one being how to maximise the effectiveness of their communication plans in order to reach as many stakeholders as possible. We must make a vital distinction here between information and communication. You ‘inform’ by simply putting key facts and figures in a data sheet, instruction manual or a website, but you ‘communicate’ when you actively engage with your audience (prospects and customers). So the communication process should be one of rewarding and long-standing relationships, not merely one of passing data on. It is impossible, in the space of a brief article, to offer a complete explanation of how to set up a communications plan, so we will instead focus on an overview of some of the key points that every start-up should consider.
✔Plan right, plan to win
Planning is key: to succeed you should be planning effectively. A good communication plan is always based on a SOSTAC approach. This acronym stands for: ■ Situation (where you are now) ■ Objectives (self explanatory..) ■ Strategy (the big picture) ■ Tactics (how you get there) ■ Action (what you are going to do to get there)
■ Controls (how successful you have been in getting there). Your tactics need to be well-defined and have to be costed accurately, so you know from the outset how much you are going to need to launch your new product or service. It is worth spending some time on your SOSTAC plan: you will be much more likely to succeed.
✘Avoid channels fatigue
This is another dilemma for new companies. The temptation to use as many communication channels as possible is great, especially when some, such as social media, appear to be free. But you should be careful, time is one of your most precious assets and investing too much in the wrong channel will just be wasteful. Identifying your audience is the first thing you should do (this should also have become clear following your SOSTAC plan). Then prioritise each of the possible channels based on a quick return on investment calculation. There are at least three routes you should consider as essential ingredients for your marketing communications plan: media relations, online marketing and advertising.
Media relations is particularly important and can bring excellent returns for modest investments. Publishing press releases online can make anyone feel like a budding journalist, but doing it well is another matter. By engaging a PR professional, preferably one with a good eye for technology and expertise in your sector, you will gain valuable access to added services such as editorial features and proactive media management, including competition analysis.
Online marketing is something every company now sets up at their inception. But a website is only a small part of the process. These days, social media holds a massive presence and you need to pay attention to this point, but please be pragmatic – not everyone of your clients is on Facebook, for example, and you may find more of them using other social media channels instead. Above all, see social media as just one part of a well orchestrated communications campaign.
Finally, good ‘old fashioned’ advertising can also provide excellent returns, provided it is highly targeted and relevant. By combining media relations with advertising you can easily become a leader in your sector, with modest outlays. Beware, however, of people or organisations making false online advertising promises; the apparent simplicity of this medium betrays its inherent complexity in terms of message, especially when you are limited to a few words, such as in pay-perclick ads. With planning and the right tools, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially, and a modest initial outlay may make a huge difference in the medium to long term of your business.
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AIR TRAVEL Fly with Lufthansa’s Private Jet service for a truly uplifting, first-class experience
rivate jet services such as those offered by Lufthansa in co-operation with NetJets, the global market leader in private aviation, offer customers the freedom to fly to almost any destination in the world and, at the same time, to enjoy tailor-made services. From take-off to landing and beyond, customers enjoy the highest degree of flexibility, offering a personal timetable and a customised service package. What makes Lufthansa’s Private Jet service unique is the way it combines the individuality of a private jet with the professional service and global expertise of a leading, international airline – an offer that is without equal worldwide.
As the most discerning of travellers, Private Jet customers will expect to have a fleet of the most modern private jets at their disposal, with different seating capacities and flying ranges to meet all their travel requirements. Access to an extensive route network is also key: Lufthansa’s Private Jet service, for example, offers customers flights to over 1000 destinations in Europe, the Russian Federation and North Africa, the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean as well as the option of direct flights between two locations or as feeder flights to connect with intercontinental flights departing from international hubs such as Frankfurt, Munich or Zurich. With flexibility an essential prerequisite to a private jet service, Lufthansa is pleased to accept very late bookings – of up to 10 hours before a departure.
Private jet services should provide a thoroughly exclusive travel experience, both on the ground and in the air, which can be customised in every respect to individual wishes and journey requirements. On the ground, Lufthansa Private Jet customers, for example, can benefit from personal security and identity checks for flights within Europe. They can also use the Lufthansa and SWISS first-class facilities or the high quality lounges of partner airlines
A first-class limousine service is available with selected packages
This a promotional feature
Lufthansa Private Jet customers can book with the specially trained service team who are on hand to ensure journeys run as smoothly as possible, and are available around the clock
at any time. And if a private jet has been booked in combination with a Lufthansa or SWISS first-class intercontinental flight, the package also includes a first-class limousine service at Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Zurich airports at no extra cost. In the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, too, a VIP service is offered to make transfers as easy as possible when connecting to or from a Lufthansa or SWISS intercontinental flight. Furthermore, for every journey with a Lufthansa Private Jet, a limousine service can be booked for before and after a flight to take a customer from their home to their private jet, and, after landing, onwards to the destination of their choice. On board, Lufthansa Private Jet customers are offered an excellent choice of specially selected food and beverages, with personal menu requests accommodated wherever possible. On-board entertainment is also on offer, with an interesting choice of programmes and a selection of daily newspapers.
Perfect coordination At Lufthansa, private jet bookings are handled by a specially trained service team, which is available around the clock. An event management team is subsequently available to all customers as a personal point of contact. The team will deal efficiently with individual requirements, ensuring that journeys run smoothly – even if last-minute changes are necessary. Where a Lufthansa Private Jet flight is booked in combination with a Lufthansa or SWISS intercontinental flight, the service team will work closely with the hub control centres to ensure the seamless coordination of private jet and long-haul flight. This ensures that the journey always runs smoothly and a highly efficient, ‘one-stopshop’ service meets the expectations of private jet customers.
Personal menu requests are accommodated wherever possible
Attractive terms Together with a flexible, tailored approach, an attractive price structure completes the package for the Lufthansa Private Jet customer. At Lufthansa, private jet prices are calculated on the basis of hours flown. Almost all charges and services are already included in this fixed price*. And if a customer is travelling in company on Lufthansa Private Jet, they do so on the best financial terms, because their fellow passengers always fly free of charge.
*Some additional charges may arise for Lufthansa Private Jet flights outside the main flight zones in Europe and North America; these will be invoiced separately.
More flexible and cost-effective than ever before, the future of telecoms is set to change the way businesses talk, for good
WORDS Charles Holland
For many of us, our first experience with Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, was with Skype. Launched in 2003, cheap call rates, global phone numbers and a phone that operated at the same tariffs – regardless of geographic location – opened our eyes to a new form of telecommunication. While the technology to enable VoIP has been in place at least since the inception of Skype, it begs the question: why is it only now that VoIP is becoming a viable solution for business? The answer is the availability of VoIP platforms designed specifically for business, and the rapid push by telecoms providers towards a policy of convergence.
Towards convergence Convergence is the industry term for providing bundles of business requirements, delivered over one data pipeline. With the proliferation of high bandwidth data products and their increased affordability, we now have access to more data than ever before. By removing the one impediment to the successful implementation of VoIP (using your data connection to make calls), telecoms providers have not only allowed for the possibility of the success of this product, but have ensured it will be the primary methodology for phone systems within the next five years.
Next generation networks
Moving over to VoIP
Telecoms providers have already begun the transition from traditional networks to networks designed to provide high-bandwidth converged solutions, called next generation networks (NGNs). NGNs are more flexible, scalable, and cost effective than traditional networks, and are rapidly replacing the current legacy equipment. The implementation of these NGNs is responsible for the increased availability and affordability of fibre to the cabinet products (FTTC), ethernet in the first mile (EFM), leased lines, and the other high-bandwidth products offered. For the consumer, this means telecoms providers no longer have an incentive to enhance or maintain the product suite available on copper lines or traditional networks, but instead to ensure that products based on VoIP are implemented whenever possible. In any location where high-bandwidth data products are available, VoIP is the superior method of making and receiving calls. Because VoIP is designed to operate over data, the limitations forced upon business by the inherent restrictions of placing calls over copper are removed. By transitioning to a business VoIP provider, the product suite available for your phone system expands from what is built into a physical piece of equipment, to what can be created from code. The era of waiting weeks, or months for adjustments to be made on the features of your phone system is ending.
The technology and infrastructure to place VoIP as the standard is already here, and it is ready to catch traffic. However, it can be seen as a daunting or stressful move – especially after years of investing in legacy networks. The first thing to consider is how the move will be implemented. VoIP was built with SIP trunking – a tool which allows for reduced call rates and the elimination of the costly circuits tangling the legacy system in with the old phone network, while maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing infrastructure. By taking gradual steps, the process of transitioning to VoIP is painless, efficient, and productive. Legacy networks, both on the provider level and the business enterprise level, are being phased out. The process has not been overnight, and it will not be complete tomorrow. The idea upon which the future of telecoms is being built – convergence – is being constructed with firm foundations, and with infrastructure to support the next era of communication. While the advantages of implementing VoIP as a new methodology are well documented and easily found, it is only with the focus and efforts of the telecoms providers that it is truly able to flourish and become the status quo. The next change you make to your phone system may not be a complete transition from the old to the new, but you should keep VoIP and convergence in mind.
in people WORDS Angela Bucknor
The most important assets of any business are its people. By investing in training their employees, businesses stand to reap the benefits essential for their long-term survival. This, of course, also contributes to the economic growth and prosperity of the UK as a whole.
Training and technology
Employers will want to train their staff for a number of reasons, not least preparing them to keep up with the constantly advancing technologies pervading each and every industry. Businesses need to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability. Some organisations try to achieve this by providing staff with training that will equip them with greater IT knowledge and skills, or training on industry-specific software. This can facilitate, for example, the introduction of dedicated software packages that will reduce operating costs, enhance performance management and financial planning.
Investing Providing employees with training and skills will help enhance your businessâ€™ most valuable assets Skills training
Many employers select vocational training to develop the job-specific skills of their employees. Jobs at all levels and across industries can benefit from skills training. It's not just technical roles that can benefit. A coffee barista position, for example, may appear to be a straightforward role, but a barista does not just prepare beverages; he or she must also be skilled in customer service, and able to manage various payment methods or train new staff. Skills training in all of these areas will therefore benefit the employee and the business as a whole. Skills training can help to create a culture of innovation, as employees become better able to identify the areas within an organisation that require improvement, and to take appropriate action. When people are properly trained, businesses see increases in productivity. Studies show that organisations which systematically invest in training see improvements in staff morale, absenteeism and retention rates.
Some employees may be eligable to obtain free training. Candidates aged 19 and over, who do not have a full level 2 qualification (NVQ Level 2, BTEC First Diploma, GNVQ Intermediate, 5 GCSEs or O-levels grade A-C) can study a full levelÂ 2 qualification free of charge. Those aged 19-24 may qualify for free tuition if they are studying towards their first full level 3 qualification. With fully trained and more highly skilled staff at the helm, businesses will see the benefits in morale, retention and productivity. And itâ€™s not just what you know, but who, too: perhaps the most important feature of training is the trainer themself. A trainer with superb communication skills, good subject knowledge and experience will engage trainees and have a greater effect, one which will in turn impact positively on business. *If you would like to discuss training opportunities that will be of benefit to your business contact your local college of further education.
in with the old London’s biggest brewery has evolved into the East End’s bubbling arts and media quarter WORDS Libby Mor t’s easy to see why the Old Truman Brewery draws creative forces from around the world. Nestled in the heart of the East End’s Brick Lane, the 11-acre site has become synonymous with creative thinking, and is a round-theclock hive of activity. New eyes might be fascinated with the action on the ground, and tourists might be attracted to it as a destination. Formerly labelled ‘the eye of the creative storm in London’s East End’, what was once the largest brewing site in London is now one of the capital’s most prominent arts and media quarters. The Old Truman Brewery started the redevelopment of its expansive site in 1995, and has since grown to become a dynamic centre for the new wave of young creative business entrepreneurs in London. The site surrounds Brick Lane just
to the east of the City, and its 19 buildings cover a wide range of sizes and styles, with a maze of courtyards and alleyways that maintain its urban and historical ambience. Combining both commercial and event spaces, the Old Truman Brewery is home to independent retail boutiques and a diverse range of nightlife venues. It also hosts a number of events, fashion shows and exhibitions from the likes of Jonathan Saunders, Scope Art Fair, London Design Festival and the Queen 40th Anniversary show. By day, cafes sit alongside funky hairdressers, boutiques and furniture shops. Come night-time, Londoners descend upon the Brewery’s haunts to experience theatre and cabaret, fine dining, boutique bowling, live music, clubbing and pop-up events. There’s an interesting mix between the
lifestyle and leisure, and the Brewery’s offices and studios – a blend that has been finely tuned to create a protected yet vibrant location for creative productivity. The long-term tenants form a strong core as the Brewery hub, which now houses more than 200 creative businesses ranging in scale from headquarters to workshops, all working within the arts and media industries. Notably, the Old Truman Brewery has a strong history of supporting and facilitating artists and designers. A series of special projects such as Fashion East and the Free Range Art and Design Show were conceived to provide young, up-and-coming talent with a chance to perform in an established venue on an international level. The Brewery also hosts five weekend markets, which were started to provide selling platforms for
young designer-makers and have now established themselves as destinations in their own right. This creative hub plays many roles for the different circles of activity that surround it and feed from it. It is an anchor for ambitious talent that offers opportunities at every stage of a developing vocation, from graduation, testing the market and setting up a business, to establishing your place in the creative world. Keep an eye out for the launch of a new online platform aimed at facilitating and encouraging collaborations, interactions and support within the Brewery community â€“ which boasts a wealth of talent. The Old Truman Brewery continues to grow, and remains as pragmatic as ever: constantly adapting to the demands of the eclectic marketplace that it has created.
The Brewery has a strong history of facilitating artists and designers
Photo: Libby Mor
Video games This year’s Olympic action is set to bring socially conscious London Video into focus WORDS Simone Barclay With a client list to rival many of its video production counterparts, Tech City dwellers, London Video, have an exciting summer ahead of them. An independent digital video production company started in 2000, they specialise in making high quality documentaries and dramas, while delivering a number of other services. This year alone they’ve filmed at the BAFTAs, reported from the red carpet for Variety US and delved into an all-nighter at the Ministry of Sound. London Video have also provided a hire service to companies and individuals since 2009, offering camera, sound and lighting at competitive prices in London. Producer and sound recorder, Mike Stride, set about starting up the business along with a team of experienced directors, camera operators and producers to make a helpful contribution to the media field. ‘We set up the film production company as we wanted to make films on social issues that affect people in society, and therefore make a positive difference,’ says Stride. ‘The camera hire arm was set up later on as we wanted to expand our client base and thought this would also be a good way to meet other filmmakers. Also we felt there was a gap in the market for individuals to hire camera equipment in a straightforward way. This has proved to be a winning USP as our business has grown by 25% each year since 2009.’ Having its base in bustling Brick Lane has its day-to-day benefits,
and as we all prepare for the Olympics, London Video is poised to fully engage with the events taking place just down the road this summer. It seems the pending games will provide access to a bigger market and improve name recognition with people visiting the city who may need video equipment. ‘We anticipate an influx of new business around the time of the Olympics. We’re perfectly placed for this as we can see the stadium from our office,’ says Stride. Picking and choosing the kind of projects to come through the London Video doors is integral to maintaining the beliefs and goals the company was first built on. The team work extensively with social enterprises and charities, and have a client list to be proud of including Connexions, Age Concern, the NHS and Cancer Black Care. ‘We most enjoy projects that are on challenging social issues like diversity and mental health,’ Stride explains, ‘but welcome the opportunities that come from working with corporate clients. We work extensively with BMI Healthcare – one of the biggest private healthcare providers in the country.’ Doing work that has a real and substantial message, and is rewarding, seems to be an everyday focus for the London Video team, but the video production world has its ups and downs too, just like any other sector. Stride knows of a few downsides in his field: '[not] getting paid on time,' he says. 'And people who think they know your job better than you because they’ve watched a few YouTube videos on production!’
Young bucks With a shot at fame and a successful start-up under his belt, Tecnologika's Joseph Castle is heading for the business big-time WORDS Simone Barclay
t the age of 24, Joseph Castle sits as director of London-based IT infrastructure and service provider, Tecnologika. A ‘one-stop shop’ for hardware procurement and deployment services, the business also specialisies in delivering leading technology to both established and emerging markets. Leaving school with eight GCSEs and opting out of the university route, it is Castle’s ambition and hard work that has brought him this far. After finding a real passion for business, and meeting IT professional Nick Jordan, co-director of Tecnologika, entering the world of technology was a no-brainer for Castle: ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just wanted a good job, and technology drives every source of commerce,' he says. Based in the Old Truman Brewery, Castle and Jordan are heading into their third year of business. ‘We are very close to the City and it is convenient for our target market,’ says Castle. ‘There are a lot of big companies in the area and this building is full of creative thinkers.’ Tecnologika supply cutting-edge niche products and services to businesses all over Europe. The company’s
dedication to offering high-end IT services to the banking, financial, graphics and rendering sectors – with the goal of keeping costs down – is driving their high demand throughout Europe. ‘Not only do we go the extra mile to ensure your supply chain is efficient and cost-effective but we work closely with our “best of breed” vendors to offer testing and development of new technology,’ says Castle. And if you have the feeling you recognise Castle’s face, he reached boot camp in 2011’s X-Factor. ‘I didn’t expect to do well’, he muses. ‘Music is my hobby; I’m not into shameless publicity and selling music for the sake of it. My business is my biggest achievement.’ Any advice for fellow ambitious people with the dream of starting up their own company? Castle’s advice seems simple but must be effective: ‘Have realistic goals, structure out where you want to be,’ he says. ‘Be around creative thinkers, understand the market you’re in and make sure you have the ability to do what you said you would.’ With successes under his belt at such a young age, Castle’s advice seems sound indeed.
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Dioriitti dress £349.00 Unique summer dress ideal for wedding parties Sizes: 6-18
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Boxpark SPECIAL Pages 42-45
box park special
Think inside the box A hub of leading brands and local talent, Boxpark pop-up mall is the East End’s retail revolution
ased in the thriving creative heart of east London, the revolutionary two-tiered metal retail hub, Boxpark, is set to be a Shoreditch fixture for the next five years. Boxpark strips and refits shipping containers to create unique, low-cost, low-risk, ‘box shops’. These combined with a mix of fashion and lifestyle brands, galleries and cafés, create London and the ‘world’s first pop-up’ mall’ – so named because its basic building blocks are inherently movable: they can, and will, pop up literally anywhere in the world. First time round it’s chosen to pop up on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street, and it hopes to offer its visitors a unique experience. With a fertile community of brands, it’s working to put creativity and fashion back where they belong: on the street. Shoreditch is a hub of creative industries and its
vibrancy is a draw for local residents as well as tourists who want a piece of the forward-thinking, creative atmosphere. Week nights might see small galleries spilling their guests from packed opening nights onto the pavements, while at weekends the streets buzz around the many local markets and galleries. Reflecting the local scene, Boxpark has created an inspiring and enjoyable place for visitors to shop, as well as drop in and hang out. With a community-focused vision, the ‘low tech and ethical’ Boxpark aims to become part of the fabric of local life by adding colour, creativity and life of its own. The mix of brands, who retail by invitation only, means the mall can offer a diverse range of products, from local craft to global fashion. This is made possible by Boxpark’s philosophy to give those innovative retailers space at affordable rates – and on unbeatably flexible terms. Local creative industries, organisations and charities are offered box
Boxpark aims to become part of the fabric of local life by adding colour and creativity
Urbanears Unit 36
shops at preferential rates to help ensure community involvement. Retailers include local coffee shops, independent skate stores, organic food outlets and art exhibitions. ‘I was always fascinated by shipping containers – the idea of Boxpark was a fusion of many personal ideas over time,’ says Roger Wade, founder of Boxpark. ‘I wanted to create something on a grand scale by using shipping containers, and offer retailers short leases, versatility and cost-effective retailing that made sense – the antithesis of the out-of-town shopping mall. And at the same time a place where the kids could just hang out and have fun.' And it looks like the creative vision of the pop-up ethical mall is set to spread world wide, with plans to open a second Boxpark mall in London, followed shortly afterwards by a central European location.
Calvin Klein Unit 6
Dc Shoes Unit 25
box park special
Pieminister - Boxpark, Shoreditch
a piece of the pie Tim Fuell visited the luxury pie and mash joint Pieminister for a sumptuous start to the summer
ith the summer shining upon us, there is something a little special about enjoying a meal in London, al fresco. At Boxpark it's more friendly pizza joint than piazza, but there is something cheering about the wooden canteen-style benches on the upper floor overlooking the hustle and bustle of the world below. One of the culinary delights on offer is probably better linked to cold winter evenings at home, but whether you are after a hearty lunch or a filling dinner, the pie, mash and mushy peas on offer from Pieminister is perfect comfort food and ideal for lazy sunny afternoons and evenings. Whether you have a taste for the meaty, veggie, eclectic or traditional, providing you like pastry there's a wide, mouthwatering range to pick from. We chose a Moo and Blue: the hint of stilton with steak provided a perfect accompaniment to the creamy mash, minty peas and thick gravy, washed down with a traditional lemonade. Itâ€™s soft drinks only here, which only adds to the hearty experience, as does the sense of good fun exuding from the cheery staff.
You can ring ahead to reserve your favourite pie, take it away, eat in the dinerstyle booths or eat al fresco, as we did. If you want to organise an office pie fest, there's even free delivery within 2 miles for orders over ÂŁ50. Pie and mash is never going to be fine dining, but it is delicious, and the tin plate it is served on sums it up perfectly: traditional but quirky.
FOOD & DRINK
ibe Bar is in the ideal position for sitting and watching Brick Lane pass by, soaking up the hustle and bustle of the local markets, while having a drink or two. It’s the ultimate summertime venue, with a huge outside courtyard that’s ideal for upping your vitamin D intake. The courtyard is packed with picnic benches and also hosts a couple of food stalls, which serve delicious jerk chicken, grill meals, and homemade pizzas – perfect for grabbing a bite while supping drinks with friends al fresco. Inside you’ll find the main bar and upstairs, the Vibe Live bar and venue. The main bar is a perfect chill out space, starting to get livelier from about 8pm – before long you’ll find happy folk dancing on sofas, tables into the small hours. There’s a large drinks selection, with the Singha beer on draught being a top choice. DJs provide the tunes come sundown, withthe new
Check out the bar with the feel-good factor Function One sound system upping the quality to the max. You can get your funk and soul fix throughout the day, and hear a bit of house in the evening with some 90s dance thrown in if you’re lucky. Take a trip upstairs if live music is more your thing. You’re likely to catch a live band, or a lively open mic session, or pop next door to the gallery space to get artistically inspired. Vibe's popularity as a meeting and destination bar is justified. It pulls in a great crowd, so it's recommended you get there early if you want to lay claim to a bench. With Euro 2012 and the Olympics just around the corner, this summer is set to be an eventful one. There’ll be big screens inside and out, and the atmosphere is sure to be electric. The end of the summer will also see the yearly Brick Lane Music Festival: so be sure to kick back, enjoy the music and soak up, well, the vibe.
Kick back with a beer, soak up the vibe
Fitness, finances and above all, beating the rush-hour blues the benefits of commuter cycling just keep on coming WORDS Ry Morgan
Want to live two years longer? How about reducing your risk of heart disease by up to 50% or improving your productivity, mental wellbeing and saving a few quid on the side? Fret not, we’re not selling acai berries or the latest diet craze – we’re talking bicycles. With summer around the corner and the London 2012 Olympics in sight, there hasn’t been a better time to jump on two wheels – and the benefits of doing so might surprise you. Let’s start with your health. Cycling to and from work each morning gives you a cardiovascular workout without the whiff of a treadmill, cost of a gym membership, or faintest jingle of a Zumba track. It’s said that regular cyclists are as fit as an average person 10 years younger. One study
found that cycling for an additional 30 minutes on most weekdays, combined with reducing calorie intake, can achieve weight loss comparable to doing three aerobic classes a week – sans leotard, of course. You can forget those dreaded squats and leg-presses too, because your calves, thighs and buttocks will reach statuesque solidity as you chisel them mile-by-mile. The boons of a daily bike ride extend all the way to your brain, too. Biking has a huge effect on emotional health – improving wellbeing, self-confidence, productivity and tolerance to stress, while reducing tiredness, difficulties with sleep and a range of other medical symptoms. All of this from simply spending your commute in the fresh air and sunshine instead of 50ft underground, stuck in someone’s armpit.
Join the cycling revolution If you’re thinking: ‘That’s all fine and well, but it’s going to cost me a small fortune to buy the bike, I’ll have to get up earlier and will arrive smelling like Pepé Le Pew every morning,' then you’d be wrong. First off, in almost all cases the bike can pay for itself within a few months of use. No rail fares. No Oyster Card costs. No congestion charges. No petrol. No road tax. No pay-and-display. No MOT. There’s an excellent tool for working out how much you could save at www.cycletoworkcalculator.com – it takes just a few seconds to fill in. Beyond that, if your employer offers the Cycle to Work Scheme as an employee benefit, you can buy a bike at a tax-free rate, saving hundreds of pounds. As for the journey time, any trip in and around a city is often quicker by bicycle than any other method of transport. With door-to-door access, no hunts for that elusive parking space, no delays on the tube and the
ability to slink through traffic jams, the humble bike represents the fabled tortoise in any inner-city challenge – winning the race against supposedly speedier alternatives, an essential tool when the crowds for the 2012 Olympics arrive. As for the sweat, cycling needn’t be a tooth-andnail affair (unless you want it to be), as a slow and steady pace will still yield results, just without the perspiration. Alternatively, gyms or an in-office shower facility will wash away any doubts. Cycling is said to be a ‘triple bottom line activity' people, profits, planet, and it certainly affects all three in a very positive way. So the next time you’re running late in traffic, get arm-pitted on the tube, are waiting for a delayed bus, or prodding your newfound winter love-handles, consider your two-wheeled childhood friend and how much healthier, fitter, happier and better-off you could be. Simply jump on the saddle, feel the wind in your hair, and PleaseCycle.
About PleaseCycle is a London-based start-up that works with organisations to help them understand, encourage and reward employee cycling. Our most innovative offering is the CycleHub, an online portal for staff to log journeys, learn about cycling, plan safe routes to the office, check weather updates, organise events and compete in a company leaderboard for prizes. By logging your mileage, not only can you see your total distance, carbon saving and vie with colleagues for workplace supremacy, you also accrue BikeMiles – akin to Nectar Points or Air Miles for cyclists.
BikeMiles can be redeemed for rewards, such as additional holiday time, free coffees, or a discount on your next accessories purchase. One of PleaseCycle’s founding clients, Reckitt Benckiser, even donated 20p per mile to their corporate charity, Save the Children, raising over £600 in one month. Essentially you get paid to be healthy. That might sound crazy, but your employer gets a fitter, more productive and sustainable workforce, so it’s win-win for everyone involved. *Check out how much time and money you can save by cycling at cycletoworkcalculator.com Learn more about PleaseCylce at pleasecycle.com
Shaping up for summer? We spoke to Alex Cadwallader for some expert fitness advice
Witness the fitness WORDS Simone Barclay
It’s that time of year again: the weather’s hotting up and our summer holidays are in sight. Whether you’ve got a winter belly to blast or you just want to hone your lovely pins, it’s important you get the most from your workout. We spoke to personal trainer, Alex Cadwallader, for some advice and tips on the best way to get into shape.
What made you want to get into personal training? I enjoy training myself and thought I’d share that with other people.
What are the benefits of using a personal trainer? Having a personal trainer is good for getting
technical advice, getting you motivated, making sure you’re working hard, because when you’re by yourself you tend not to push yourself as hard.
with the back of the arms, while guys want a bigger chest and arms. It’s all achievable; as long as you work hard you should be able to get the results you want.
How would you describe your approach to the people you train?
What are your top tips for losing weight?
I try to understand where they are coming from. Some people need to be approached more delicately so I just try and get into their mind set and we work together so we can achieve more.
Don’t eat carbs in the evening, so that’s things like pasta and rice after 6pm. Smaller amounts of whatever you usually eat instead of big portions. Spicy food can help your metabolism, and drink lots of water.
What are the best exercises? What are the most common things your customers want to achieve? It’s always stomach, specifically the lower stomach. Females usually have troubles
Interval training works really well, where you go really fast for short periods of time, for example, sprinting for 20 seconds then walking for 20 seconds over and over again. This works because it burns fat quicker.
As long as you work hard you should be able to get the results you want How do you maintain your own fitness levels? I do the same things I teach my clients, I train five days a week and I eat well.
Itâ€™s almost summer and people want to look their best, what advice would you give to those just getting into a fitness regime? Donâ€™t try and set yourself a target i.e. trying to get fit for a certain event or date. Think like exercise is now part of your life. As long as it is a realistic goal you can get where you need to be.
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Boogie Board Paperless LCD Tablet £34.99 - firebox.com Perfect for scribbling messages, writing to-do lists, sketching digital graffiti, doing sums and drawing up mad professor-ish master plans,
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Full of Eastern promise Become part of the action in the up-and-coming East End of London with these affordable housing options Ever since London won the Olympic bid in 2005 there has been a distinct focus on the East End of London, which has intensified in recent years and months. For centuries east London has attracted its fair share of emerging communities, creative types and business entrepreneurs and more recently has become home to technology. Local housing stock, on the other hand, hasn’t always been of a high standard nor had very much in the way of investment. In the next 10 to 20 years, however, there is set to be substantial growth in the number of residential properties as a result of the legacy of Olympic regeneration and the development of the Thames Gateway. Living and working in east London has been more affordable than other parts of London for years. With the emergence of new developments designed with first-time buyers in mind, it’s becoming a more
attractive option, too. First Steps is pleased to be offering the opportunity for first-time buyers to gain access to high quality, stylish affordable homes to own and rent throughout London.
About First Steps First Steps to home ownership is a free-touse service for first-time buyers, providing information about affordable homes in London and on the different options available to buy or rent a home; the most popular, and long established option is First Steps Shared Ownership. First Steps Shared Ownership is designed so that your monthly housing costs will be approximately 20% lower than if you were to buy the home outright on the open market or rent it privately. You won’t need as much in savings for a deposit either, as your deposit will be based on the value of the share that you are buying and not the full market value of the home. With First Steps Shared Ownership you
buy a brand new or resale home, usually with a mortgage on a share in the home of between 25% and 75% of the home’s full market value depending on what you can afford, you will also pay a rent, which is initially capped at a maximum of 3%, on the part owned by the developer. Once you have bought a home with First Steps Shared Ownership, you can increase the share you own when you can afford to until you own your home outright (this is known as ‘staircasing’). First Steps currently have 242 properties to rent, or buy in the east London area, you can search the website for details (www. firststepslondon.org). You can also visit the East London Affordable Home show, which takes place on Saturday 13 October. A yearly event, it enables potential buyers to find out about the deals and developments on offer, as well as meet affordable housing providers and get financial advice to help you buy your home. Register your interest at email@example.com .
We take a closer look at just some of the residential properties available in east London:
East Village, E20 After the Olympics a range of affordable, high quality homes will be available, including rental apartments through social rent, intermediate market rent, as well as shared ownership. Visit eastvillagelondon.co.uk or facebook.com/eastvillagelondon. co.uk or twitter.com/EastVillageLDN
Glass House, Limehouse Coming Soon! One, two and three bedroom apartments available for shared ownership near Limehouse, Shadwell DLR and overground stations.
Vantage Point, Hackney Network Stadium’s award-winning shared ownership homes at Vantage Point are now available to view. The stylish apartments are located on the upper floors of an iconic apartment block which hosts one of the largest living ‘green walls’ in Europe. All apartments are highly specified, complete with their own balcony – some with panoramic views across London. Vantage Point is situated minutes from the vibrant Mare Street district and ultra trendy Shoreditch, and benefits from excellent transport links.
Reliance Wharf, N1 Reliance Wharf is a vibrant new waterside development that sits beside the Regent’s Canal in Hackney, N1; offering a wide variety of stunning contemporary one, two, three and four bedroom apartments built to a high specification.
If you are interested in any of the schemes listed, complete the application form online, you can also speak to the First Steps applications team on 0845 230 8099 or email firststeps@@metropolitan.org.uk for further information and assistance.
Feels like home There’s never been a better time to buy in the East End – and with affordable housing, it’s now even easier, says East Thames’ Wendy Hegarty
The next few years will see an unprecedented number of new affordable homes built in east London. Spurred by widespread regeneration and the upcoming Olympics, east London has been transforming rapidly. Affordable housing specialists East Thames are at the heart of these changes, with many new homes coming on the market in areas like Stepney, Walthamstow and Stratford, all within easy commute to the Tech City gateway. East Thames’ Head of Marketing and Sales, Wendy Hegarty, highlights their most exciting affordable developments and explains how you can own part of this vibrant area without mortgaging yourself into the clouds:
‘There has never been a better time to buy an affordable home in east London. We have many developments that are brilliantly connected to central London and key employment hot spots. And best of all, with the shared ownership product that allows you to buy a share in your home and pay a reduced rent on the remainder, our homes are affordable to most people earning under £60k a year.’ There are conditions around shared ownership eligibility, which you can find out more about by visiting the London shared ownership register at firststepslondon.org.uk. Often with affordable developments, priority will go to people already living and/or working the same borough, or in some cases, east London.
For the best deal on the affordable market, keep up to date on new developments on the First Steps website or on developer websites such as east-thames.co.uk. Here are East Thamesâ€™ top four affordable developments in the East End:
Benedict Court, Docklands, E14 Ideally located in Tower Hamlets' Docklands, less than 20 minutes to Bank and 30 minutes to Old Street. One bedroom apartments now available for ÂŁ62,488 for a 25% share.
Stepney Green, E2 Sandwiched between the stylish areas of Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Limehouse, the 462-home Stepney Green development is expected to make a big splash, having only come on the market in May 2012. Comprising one, two and three bedroom apartments with spacious high quality specifications, the homes are available for shared ownership and outright sale. Stay tuned at east-thames. co.uk/stepneygreen
Watermark, Walthamstow, E17 Fifty-nine new apartments for shared ownership have recently come to this newly regenerated area, located around 30 minutes from Old Street, and complete with underground car park and a community park. An exceptionally affordable development, one bedroom homes start from just ÂŁ40,375 for 25% share. (Pricing is indicative, based on valuations received March 2012, and thus subject to change).
Frederic Street, Walthamstow, E17 East Thames have many upcoming developments In the heart of bustling Walthamstow, the most recent, Frederic Street, is just 2 minutes from St James Street station, which will have you at Liverpool Street in 15 minutes. Two bedroom apartments available from ÂŁ48,125 for 25% share.
are you ready to buy? Your flatmate’s a pain and the rent's a drain, but is it really time to step onto the property ladder? WORDS Tim Fuell
So you've reached the age when you’re beginning to think it’s time to settle down. An Englishman's home is his castle, apparently, and the UK has a high home-ownership rate. Yet, while having your own bricks and mortar can be appealing, if you’re already finding the monthly rent a bind, then buying and owning a home can be even more so. Acquiring your first home may not be as simple as finding a mortgage and picking from an estate agent's selection. It’s a costly business, especially for those making the first steps out of renting. Here are our five top things to consider before taking the plunge.
The largest deposit you’ll ever make
If you’re serious about getting onto the property ladder in London you’ll need some serious savings. Days of the 100% mortgage are long gone, even deals on 75% borrowings are not as inviting as they once were. With a majority of London property costing over £200,000, you’re looking at needing in excess of £50k. Without it, it’s probably not even worth thinking about buying in the capital in
the current economic climate. And even if you're lucky enough for mummy and daddy to lend it to you, be warned – mortgage lenders are pretty wise to that, too. They won't object completely but will want your parents to sign something to the effect that any funds they give you are a gift they do not want back. Alternatively, they may want your parents to act as guarantors for the complete loan, mortgage as well.
You thought first-class stamps were expensive
Sticking the Queen's head on a birthday card might be at an all time high, but so is stamp-duty on property. As the government look to boost the coffers, almost all exemptions are over, so if you are buying anything up to the purchase price of £250,000 you are going to need to set aside another 1% to pay as tax upon completion. £250,000.01 and it is 3%. Over £500,000 and the headache and wallet ache is even more!
You know how much of a pain it can be trying to get hold of the landlord to fix a leaking tap? Well, when you are the homeowner, there
is no landlord to chase, instead you’ll need to find a plumber or any other professional you may need, and, of course, you'll have to foot the bill. Either that or fix it yourself, which is often far more complicated than it sounds. Time-wise, a problem in the home you own is a much bigger issue than in a rental property. Money-wise, it can be a serious problem. Given that a new roof is likely to cost a small fortune, ‘rainy-day fund’ is a suitable term for the several thousand pounds you will probably want to have in reserve every year to cover any of those unexpected problems.
When you do commit to buy, it’s likely you’ll be at the bottom of a chain of transactions. This means you probably won't have the luxury of choosing a moving date that suits you perfectly; it will be one mutually agreeable to all in the chain, and being seen as the bottom of the chain can also diminish your influence. Make sure you build in a contingency to your buying fund to cover the likely scenario of having to pay your mortgage while you’re still paying for your existing rental. Even if it’s only a month’s overlap, that's still a big chunk to find.
The first mortgage payment
Leaking tap? When you’re the homeowner, there is no landlord to chase...
Banks are all about cash flow – and this means their cash flow, not yours. One thing often overlooked by new buyers is that your first mortgage payment is usually the current month's payment plus the month in advance. That means – depending on when you complete the transaction and the date you have chosen for your mortgage payment to be taken from your account – the first payment your mortgage company take could be almost double your usual monthly installment. It’ll be embarrassing and problematic if you bounce your very first mortgage payment. This isn't intended to put you off making that first purchase but it’s hoped it will serve as a heads-up on what property ownership can really mean. Home-hunting is a time-consuming and stressful process to undertake, made even worse if you get halfway along and find you simply can't afford to see it through. If you make the right provisions and calculations, you’re likely to find a realistic savings goal and target timeframe, which will eventually see you turning the key in the front door of your own home – if you so desire.