Local Entrepreneur Forum
The REconomy Project Local Entrepreneur Forum is a powerful catalyst for a new kind of economy in the Totnes area – vibrant, bustling, abundant. Every year for one jam-packed productive day, we bring entrepreneurs, investors, and other change makers together to learn from each other, form new relationships, and hopefully, to begin working together on new enterprises.
What kind of enterprises? Social, sustainable, regenerative, resilient – new companies that create meaningful livelihoods and contribute to the community in positive ways.
Everyone has a stake in their local economy and everyone can be an investor, too. Entrepreneurs need all kinds of support. Yes, financial capital is important, but so are other forms of support, from office space to child care. Entrepreneurs supported by the community do better. The economy does better, too. Everybody wins.
Want a more in-depth view on the Local Entrepreneur Forum, where it came from, and how it fits into the broader strategy behind the Totnes REconomy Project? Check out this blog post, "How to transform your local economy in one day"
The day shaped up to be another fantastic experience of community, investing, learning, pitching, and connecting. Here is how the programme ran:
8:30am Breakfast Club – hosted by Grown in Totnes, who pitched at LEF3 and were crowdfunding throughout May. A hearty, stick to your ribs oat-filled breaky – only £2.
9:30am the day began …
- The Bank of Devon? – Tony Greenham, new economics foundation – what would it mean to have a regional bank serving the interests of the community and how do we make it happen? An inspiring proposal.
- Crowdfunding the Future – Oana Neumayer, BuzzBnk Our good friends BuzzBnk hosted the crowdfunding campaign for Grown in Totnes. Oana talked about how crowdfunding is powering the rising ‘for community benefit’ economy.
- REconomy all over the world – Fiona Ward, REconomy Project Many innovations start in Totnes, it seems. Other local ‘REconomy Projects’, just like in Totnes, are popping up all over the world, from Japan to the US to Brazil to Portugal to Sweden – you get the idea.
- Be Like a Bee – Super fun and super productive. Share needs and offers. Meet people you need to meet. Learn what you need to learn. A most important part of the day.
- Local lunch from the fabulous, The Kitchen Table.
- Is Alternative, Democratic, Community Finance Possible? – Organisers of TRESOC, Transition Homes, and Plough & Share share their stories of challenge and success.
- The Community of Dragons – pitching for local support and investment:
Green Funeral Company
Wild & Curious
Dartmoor Pony Training Centre
a start-up venture led by KEVICC students
4:00pm After party, hosted by New Lion Brewery, who pitched at LEF1, featuring a special craft brew.
Pitching to the Community of Dragons - Criteria
Each year, we have slots for 4 or 5 entrepreneurs to pitch their projects to the Community of Dragons. This is a great opportunity to raise the profile of your venture, as well as to gain financial and or/non-financial investment and support. Our criteria for choosing which ventures pitch:
- enterprise is ethical, sustainable and appropriately local
- demonstrates competence through business plan and/or track record
- business model does not rely on donations or grant funding
- 'investment' required would allow venture to 'get to the next level' - investment could be financial and/or non-financial.
- ideally to operate in one or more of the sectors identified in the Local Economic Blueprint - food, renewable energy, housing, health & care
- contributes to the long-term resilience of the community
- one slot is reserved for a youth-led enterprise.
Whether projects get to pitch or don't, the day is designed so that everyone benefits. To be considered, please send an email to Jay Tompt - firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out this short film from Emilio Mula and Nu-Project from 2014's LEF:
And see images on our Facebook page.
See you next year!
Run a Local Entrepreneur Forum in your town
In Totnes, the Local Entrepreneur Forum is helping to create the conditions for new social and sustainable enterprises to form, launch, and thrive, all with growing support from the community. It's becoming a big part of our work and is having an increasingly positive impact. Can this work in other communities? Yes.
April 21 & 28 2015 in Göteborg, Sverige - Our friends in Sweden are producing their innovative version of the Local Entrepreneur Forum over two days, the first outside Totnes. Details, here: Everyone is an Investor.
June 2 2015, in Brixton, London - There's lots happening in the lead up to the first UK Local Entrepreneur Forum outside of Totnes. There's a nice blog post, here, and more details about the event, here.
We're developing a handbook and support trainings so that we can help your group benefit from our experience. In the meantime, have a look at the information on this page, including the links to blog posts and videos. If you're interested, please get in touch: email@example.com
LEF testimonials & previous LEF ventures
Rob Hopkins calls it one of the ten innovations coming out the Transition Movement that could begin to turn the crisis around. Ways With Words, July 13, 2013
Read about the 2012 event in Jay Tompt's blog
What people have been saying:
“People lead such atomised lives. It’s a wonderful way of bringing people together.”
“Its not just about money. You get a double return from investing in our community”
“Small acorns...you never know where things are going to lead”
“We are all investors”
Ventures who pitched in past events:
Holly Tiffen, Grown in Totnes
A TTT project that seeks to broaden the range of local produce grown and sold in the local area. It's all starting with oats! We are working with a local farmer, to develop a market for Totnes grown and processed oats. Oats grow very well in our damp climate but there is currently nowhere that you can buy oats that are both grown and processed in the South West.
Zav Bowden, Dart Valley Timber
'Dart Valley Timber' is a (new) mobile sawmilling operation, suited to(or designed for) the timber available in the area. It can cut to order but will also dry and season timber, meeting the demands of local natural builders, woodworkers and craftspeople. And supply some really good firewood!
Doug King-Smith, HillyField CIC
Every Drop makes a Difference! Support truly sustainable British Woodland Regeneration on Dartmoor, by harnessing energy from the river to add value to timber, provide educational opportunities, and help realise a fossil fuel free forestry & farming future at The Hillyfield.
Fraser Durham, Argand Solutions
Argand Solutions is a solutions-led energy monitoring business based in Totnes. We design and build solutions that enable commercial & industrial clients to reduce energy consumption and generate energy more effectively through smart data visualisation & analysis.
Charlie Burls, Elliot Smith, et al., The Living Projects
The Living Projects is a youth-led initiative blazing a trail to find innovative ways to help young people access land, housing, real-life skills and purposeful work. We want to help make Totnes a town where young people have opportunities, can afford to live here, and are supported and inspired by the people in their lives. Our vision is opening up town and land-based community space, facilitating young people’s initiative to create viable and sustainable futures for themselves and their communities, and unleashing their creativity, talents and dreams along the way.
Fungi Futures - Fungi Futures CIC is an award winning social enterprise pioneering the growing of Oyster mushrooms from waste coffee grounds.
New Lion Brewery - As a craft brewery, we will be an ale alchemist, mixing cutting edge technology with history. As a social enterprise, we will run the business not just for profit but also to benefit the community.
Babes in the Woods - Hen parties in the wilds of Devon.
Plough & Share Credit Union - The Mission of the Plough & Share Credit Union is to work towards the financial inclusion of all.
The Land Society - We support people in housing need in towns and villages to self build their own affordable home.
School Farm CSA - School Farm CSA is a community supported market garden on the Dartington Estate, south Devon. It was established to contribute to the high demand for local, organic, ecologically-grown vegetables and fruit in the Totnes and Dartington area.
Transition Homes - Transition Homes Community Land Trust has been working now for five years to develop low impact housing for local people in housing need which demonstrates transition ideals.
TotnesArts Hub - It's a cooperative seeking to establish a work hub for artists and makers, including studios, workshops and messy space.
Totnes Mosaic - Mosaic aims to bring a flexible, playful, multi-use space to Totnes High St, hosting educational projects and live performance in a fresh, urban setting. Eat, drink and buy local or hold your own event and be part of the Mosaic.