The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: London Local, Ben Cooper Melchiors — March 21, 2013

Interview: London Local, Ben Cooper Melchiors

This week, The Fetch London’s Community Ambassador, Alexandra Leslie spoke with Ben Cooper Melchiors, Hub General Manager for IdeasTap.

BenCM

So let’s get to know each other! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m a theatre creative and an arts manager. So I see producing and managing in the arts as an inherently creative process. My background is in theatre and arts admin, previously working in management roles at Battersea Arts Centre, starting with Punchdrunk’s Masque of Red Death, the National Youth Theatre, producing for artist Franko B and project managing the building of a theatre from 3 tonnes of reclaimed timber within The Red Room’s Oikos Project. Now I am Hub General Manager for IdeasTap, providing 50+ companies with an office via our skills swap programme, Creative Space.

I like building creative stuff: projects, performances, buildings, systems, companies, etc.

Before it’s launch in 2008, IdeasTap was just an idea. How did IdeasTap become a reality that’s helped other startups come to life?

Founded by the Peter De Haan Charitable Trust, arts charity IdeasTap is a creative network that provides funding, opportunities and advice for creative people. At its heart is the idea that placing yourself within a network is key to professional development, as well as gaining access to the opportunities and resources needed to build a creative career. Since 2008, the charity has developed a really useful website and partnered with creative industry leaders while looking to deliver the best opportunities possible to our members. And now IdeasTap specifically helps startups through Creative Space.

How did you come to be involved with IdeasTap?

I have been an IdeasTap member for years. However, after working in the same building for one of their partners the National Youth Theatre, IdeasTap offered me the job to develop Creative Space, since I knew the facilities well and could apply my MA research on creativity and professional experience in arts management.

What is the IdeasTap Creative Space programme?

Launched on a large scale in June 2012, Creative Space offers creative startups and freelancers access to Central London office space on a temporary basis, paid for via skill swap. This programme mirrors what the whole charity does: providing self-starters (often) their first office, meeting rooms, events and a network of other creatives needed to reach “the next level.” We have theatre companies, dance producers, film production companies, graphic designers, illustrators, writers, journalists and more working from hot desks and “paying” for it via a few days of creative freelance work for IdeasTap per month. Check the current residents out via our Twitter list.

What are some things you enjoy that you incorporate into your work with Creative Space?

I think creative culture is a big part of succeeding as an artistic company or freelancer. That means understanding your working culture, creative process and the professional nuts and bolts of managing your work. So I love it when I can help startups in Creative Space learn and find their right balance between chaos and structure to enable creativity on a professional level: work space, hours, inspiration, contacts, context and efficient ways of managing the requirements of business.

What has been one of your favourite projects you’ve been able to work on at IdeasTap?

Due to the skill swap, there’s always hundreds on the go! Some a few hours and some months long. We’ve had fantastic free events for the IdeasTap Spa pitched and delivered by Creative Spacers, such as how to monetise online content or sort out your freelance working lifestyle. We also commissioned a radio play project delivered by Creative Spacers Heritage Arts Company. Writers submitted a radio play treatment, received feedback from leading playwright Ella Hickson, had their full-length scripts read by actors in a workshop at our headquarters and finally the best scripts are being recorded now for publishing on SoundCloud. It’s exciting to commission our members in Creative Space to deliver excellent opportunities for other members, where, for example, a writer can be really imaginative, go on a journey and be showcased professionally to agents and venues—without needing a huge theatre production budget.

If you could choose any sort of business to work with Creative Space, what would it be, and why? Be creative ☺

We are excited by all creative businesses! The key for applicants is to be beyond just the idea phase and to know where you’re going, with a realistic plan for how to get there. That means companies must be trading for six months or working as a freelancer for a year. We do keep an eye on what skill sets we need as a company, and we’re looking to fill our remaining spots with those with digital/web design, graphic design and professional journalism skills.

What are your favourite things about the IdeasTap website?

It’s immense! I’m surprised by the depth of it sometimes. The search engine can be quite cool, to find IdeasMag articles, opportunities, events and people based around a keyword that matters to you. I also think the free IdeasTap Spa events are invaluable to learn about or top up on niche professional creative topics. Lastly, the Education Resources, Funding and Finance hub pages are hidden gems.

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Written by Alexandra Leslie, The Fetch London Community Ambassador. Video blogger for Newspepper.com and TechFluff.TV. American student in London, finding her way around the city one iPhone app at a time. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexandraLeslie

Interview: London Local, Rory O’Connor — March 15, 2013

Interview: London Local, Rory O’Connor

This week, The Fetch London’s Community Ambassador, Alexandra Leslie, spoke with Rory O’Connor, CEO and Founder of Scurri

rory profile 2

So let’s get to know each other! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

In my early career I worked in Waterford Wedgwood, spending time in various sales, marketing and strategic project roles. This included being part of the team that delivered a €10m SAP implementation, where I got my initial taste for big technology projects. I subsequently worked as a consultant and was lucky to work with clients such as Heineken, Intel, Euronics and Siemens and spent a period as a project manager with AOL Broadband. I travel a lot with work and I am based in London during the week but home is with my wife and four children in Wexford in the south east of Ireland.

How did you get involved with Scurri?

I was working as a consultant, when I got the initial idea and saw an opportunity to create a website which would connect up transport companies to create a virtual network of carriers that would make the delivery process easier for consumers. I was still running my own consultancy business, but I put in some of my own funding at the end of 2010 and hired a developer to design a prototype website. I had this vision of using technology to make delivery simpler and more efficient.

What is Scurri, and why should people use it over other delivery methods?

Scurri provides a cloud based solution for multi channel retailers and e-Commerce merchants who ship physical goods and need to integrate multiple carriers. The delivery management platform provides the merchants with the tools to tackle and reduce delivery related shopping cart abandonment and unlike our competition, the platform is cloud based making it an economical service that is fast and agile to deploy!

How is Scurri innovative in eCommerce?

Scurri provides a cloud based solution for multi channel retailers and e-Commerce merchants who ship physical goods and need to integrate multiple carriers. The delivery management platform provides the merchants with the tools to tackle and reduce delivery related shopping cart abandonment and unlike our competition, the platform is cloud based making it an economical service that is fast and agile to deploy!

Do you think other delivery systems will catch on to Scurri’s simple methods?

I think some will find it hard to change as they have taken a long term bet on older technologies and they will struggle to change from their legacy systems even if they really want to. I am sure other smaller and newer companies will copy what we do, thats really inevitable in this day and age. However we are working hard on maintaining and growing an amazing culture within the company. We really believe that its so important to be always listening to our customers needs and we need to continue to embed lean and agile methodologies into the way we work. Its our culture and way of doing things that will ensure that we will continue to be innovative and customer focused and culture is very hard to be copied.

What’s the worst story you’ve ever heard of someone losing something in the mail?

We have seen many different items getting lost including one time a lady opening her parcel to find the designer clothes she had purchased had been mixed up with a parcel of packing tape due to the wrong goods being packed into the wrong box . Our customer used our tools to work out where the clothes had gone and everything was sorted out relatively quickly once the mistake was identified. I do remember reading however that last year post that was lost in the Royal Mail system turned up after 23 years. Once it was found Royal Mail reunited the missing letters with their rightful owners and I bet it was a surprise to see that post coming through the door after so many years.

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Written by Alexandra Leslie, The Fetch London Community Ambassador. Video blogger for Newspepper.com and TechFluff.TV. American student in London, finding her way around the city one iPhone app at a time. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexandraLeslie

Interview: London Local, Suds Singh — February 28, 2013

Interview: London Local, Suds Singh

This week, The Fetch London’s Community Ambassador, Alexandra Leslie spoke with Suds Singh, Founder of Personal Stylist in London

suds psil

Introduce yourself to the readers of The Fetch London!

My name is Suds Singh, founder of Personal Stylist in London. My family are from Nepal but I was brought up in London. Since leaving university I have worked mostly in sales, retail and ecommerce. I feel lucky to live in London, as there is always something to do and you can meet people from everywhere!

What is Personal Stylist in London?

Personal Stylist in London is a personal styling/shopping service, for anyone who would like professional help with their personal style or would simply like a style refresher.

How are you involved with Personal Stylist in London?

I founded the company about a year ago. I essentially coordinate and look after a very talented and creative team of personal stylists as well as a couple of interns and a team of bloggers who are based in and around London.

On a day to day basis I am responsible for overseeing the site/social media and also promotion of our service online as well as offline.

The Fetch comes in particularly handy as I often find lots of interesting events and activities to attend which is good for networking and promoting my company!

What type of clientele use your service?

The ethos of the company was to democratise and demystify fashion, and make style accessible to everyone. Our pricing model is fair, so it has been no surprise that our most regular and best customers are everyday folks!

Since we introduced our online styling via Skype package, we have been getting bookings from a far afield as Germany, Finland, UAE, Australia as well as Tunisia!

What sorts of services does PSIL offer?

We have three basic services, Refresher, where we spend half a day firstly getting to know you and then taking you shopping. Absolute which is slightly longer ideal if you would like to have a complete style makeover. Our most recent package Instant Stylist where we provide you with styling advice and tips via Skype!

Each of our styling packages comes with an after care and a handy style guide for you to keep. It contains lots of styling hints tips as well as a tailored list of style do’s and don’ts! The idea behind this is not just to dress someone and they will be stylish for a day but to teach our customers how to dress so he or she can be stylish for a lifetime!

What is the best style advice do you think you have ever received?

A smile is the ultimate accessory!

What is the best style advice do you think you have ever given?

If in doubt always wear black.

What’s the latest trend right now in London?

In my opinion London is one of the best dressed capitals in the world. The office or even the tube can sometimes feel like a fashion show. Instead of trying to keep up with an endlessly changing fashion trend we recommend our customers focus on building a timeless classic wardrobe.

Here are my top style tips:

  • When buying new clothes always go for quality
  • Make the most of what you already have, find a good tailor to amend or take in shirts/ jeans to create a bespoke look
  • Before shopping for clothes do your research:
  1. Identify a well-dressed celebrity who has a similar shape and figure to you and draw inspiration from their style.
  2. Don’t be shy about taking pictures/ magazine cut out’s and asking the shop assistant for help with finding the ideal look for you.
  • Don’t forget about grooming

About our Ambassador // Alexandra Leslie is a video blogger for Newspepper.com and TechFluff.TV. She’s an American student in London, finding her way around the city one iPhone app at a time. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexandraLeslie

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