If you build it, they will come: and other musings

why indycube happened when we stopped marketing

Last week, we went for a lovely lunch with the folks from LHP Accountants, who are based in Carmarthen. Mark was the guest speaker of the afternoon, and shared some thoughts on marketing, Brexit and self-employment.

Most of you will know that indycube started out 6 years ago, when Mark decided he wanted to build a place to facilitate people who wanted to work together rather than apart. What you may not know is that it wasn't an easy ride. indycube offered out free coworking for a month and the place was full, but nobody wanted to pay when the trial month was out. Mark was left with a big office and only a couple of people.

He soon realised that the traditional, and often expensive, methods of marketing didn't work - instead, we needed to rely on communication, community spirit and good old fashioned gossip. He put the coffee and lights on, and pretended the place was full, and soon, it was! indycube doubled their membership every month for 6 months at the beginning. Mark put this down to conversations over pints at the local, or over the counter at the chippy.

Wales, he said over lunch, is different. We have a rebellious spirit that has been suppressed over the years; consequently we are used to being told what to do. indycube is a place for people to draw energy from the people around them, bounce ideas back and forth and work alongside one another - it's also a place where you can do whatever you want to do. (Well, within reason!) We've got, or have had, device labs and photography studios, small businesses and full scale publishing houses. We provide the desk, the wifi and the coffee but it's up to our users to provide the rest, to make the most of the space, to establish their roots and to make the connections.

Mark also posed the theory that following Brexit, more and more people are likely to be working for themselves, potentially making freelancers the new biggest workforce in Wales. That's why spaces like indycube need to exist, and it's why we're trying to expand as far and wide as possible! People should be able to work where they live, without a lengthy commute being taken as standard, spouses should be able to pop home for lunch, mothers and fathers should be able to pick up their children from school. These are quality of life issues that we could be better at if we chose to be, and it's as simple as believing in yourself and your business, and taking the plunge.

We're currently building up a database of freelancers across our spaces, but for now, you can connect with other indycubers using Twitter or Facebook.

 

Be part of it: The 24 Hour Culture Survey

WHAT IS THE 24 HOUR CULTURE SURVEY?

Read, watch, dance, make, play, sing - What do you do?

Please take part in a short survey across South East Wales
Noon, Friday October 21st - 
Noon, Saturday October 22nd 2016
*Survey opens on 24hourculture.wales just before noon on 21 Oct*

Every day, we all enjoy arts and culture in many ways, and sometimes without even realising. Here's your chance to play a part in a major survey, which will take a snapshot of what activities people love to do across South East Wales, over any given 24hour period.  We've selected October 21st - 22nd, so please head over to the 24 Hour Culture website then, or just after, and complete our short survey.  You can sign up for a reminder, follow us on Twitter or see our Facebook page.

And remember, arts and culture is EVERYWHERE...from an operatic performance at the theatre, to rock music at a festival. From taking photographs of nature on your phone, to eyeing paintings at a museum.


#ThisIsCulture

We love this initiative and are proud to be supporting culture in Wales!

We've gone all mutual on you!

merseyside-community-benefit-society.jpg

On September 1st 2016 indycube mutualised. That may sound a bit grand, but essentially it means we've changed our legal status from a Community Interest Company to a Community Benefit Society. (We're going to use the shorthand 'CommBen' for the remainder of this article - we've been told by those 'in the know' that that's the appropriate term!). You can read more about each of these from the links, but both legal forms are different types of social enterprises.

Why have we changed?

On January 1st we announced the decision that we were planning to become a CommBen. Despite being a social enterprise since we opened on St David's Day 2010, I and the original Directors were always intending to build something for a wider community benefit, and not simply to benefit ourselves, our pals, or some specific group of people. To widen ownership was always in our plans. We felt we needed to grow the project initially, without constantly referring back to a committee for approval, but now, as we enter the next stage of our growth, it felt right to open up membership properly.

We chose to become a CommBen rather than a workers' cooperative as we believed that our 'footprint of social benefit' expanded beyond those who work in our spaces. The regulator (Financial Conduct Authority) agreed with us (see next for reasons why people like me shouldn't be involved with people like the FCA, mind!!). Our community of benefit is described therefore as those in & around the places in which we are situated.

Why did it take longer than planned?

We were originally planning to convert to a CommBen on March 1st 2016 - our sixth anniversary. It was always going to be a rush job, but we managed to get most things ready in time for our conversion - the original directors had signed over the shares; we had the initial subscribers to manage the interim transition; we had written up our legal rules of operation (including lowering the legal age for membership & directorship to 16); had the best people in CoopsUK helping us out, etc. We just had to deal with the team at the FCA - they're bureaucrats to their core (given they are dealing with issues of financial propriety and probity, you would hope that they are), but they and I speak different languages. Suffice it to say, following an hour and a half telephone meeting with the regulator, I decided to park the application until our financial year end, which was Aug 31st. I just would rather do, than form fill - I needed a break. The time delay was solely down to my tardiness - sorry!

What does that mean?

Essentially it means that I, and the team I work alongside, are no longer 'in charge'. The ownership and control of indycube has now passed to the interim subscribers, and will soon pass to the members. Those members will elect a board whose job it will be to agree strategies and hold the management to account with regard to delivering against that strategy.

The subscribers will appoint an interim board to take us through to the Board elections. These appointments will be in place by the end of the year. We will have a board elected by St David's Day 2017.

How can I be a part of it, and what does being a part entail?

To be a member of the CommBen will only cost £1 per month. Membership will be open to everyone over 16. There are a few steps we still need to take, but essentially that's it.

Users of indycube won't automatically become members of the CommBen. There's no compunction to join - of course we'd like you to, but if you want to simply remain customers, that's perfectly fine. Similarly, as we have proven our benefit footprint lies as much outside of where we operate, as inside, anyone who shares in our way of working, and wants to join as a member can do so. 

Members can then be as active or passive as they choose. We prefer that people get involved, unsurprisingly. All members are equal - they will have exactly the same say in what the business does, and why. One member, one vote is an essential element of cooperative principles.

£1 a month gets you membership. Membership gets you an equal vote. Simple, really.

What's next?

One of my favourite ever TV series' is the US political drama, the West Wing. In it, President Bartlett's catchphrase was "What's next?". He used it to move things along quickly, and to maintain urgency and direction. Well this is the same for us. 

Over the past six and a half years we've tried to deliver against our mission of 'changing the way Wales does business.' We think we've achieved a lot of what we set out to do.

  • We've proven that a social enterprise in Wales can start up, develop and grow without the need for grant funding. Bizarrely, as those close to indycube know, the fact we've not used scarce public resources to fund ourselves has made life more difficult in certain circles, rather than less. Bonkers!
  • We've developed a brand with integrity. We've not followed the crowd, not to be difficult, but because we're independently minded, and often we don't agree with where the crowd are going. I'm going to do my best to ensure that independent spirit is maintained going forward.
  • We've opened workspaces in places that too many people have written off. No amount of glossy brochure wear, task forces or summits will replace the need for local people to stand up and make things happen in their communities. We've helped people do just that and will continue to do so.
  • We've seen a number of players enter the coworking field in Wales. When we opened, there were no others. Some have gone, more I'm sure will come in. Coworking, in 2010 was the preserve of big cities in the US and a few European metro cities. It no longer is. It is quite clearly embedded in the fabric of Welsh business society.

The current team are preparing some exciting and challenging plans for the future. These will need to be approved by the interim subscribers. Part of that will include the 'how can I join' piece. We'll be setting out our broad plans next Thursday at 5pm - I hope you'll be able to join us and ask some questions.

We want our 'what's next' to be challenging. Any by 'our', I mean anyone who wants to join in and be part of indycube.

Diolch yn fawr,
Mark

PS. We'll be celebrating this announcement and answering your questions at Trade Street on Thursday evening - join us for a drink and a natter, and give us a shout on Facebook to let us know you'll be coming.

Conference to put Welsh technology SMEs centre stage

Pitch your SME
Mercure Hotel
11th October
*Free Event*


Organisers of CoInnovate 2016 have announced that this autumn’s collaborative innovation conference will give SMEs the chance to pitch their technologies and capabilities to some of the world’s leading technology companies. 

The two-day CoInnovate conference returns to Cardiff’s Mercure Hotel, starting on 11th October, bringing with it Pitch Live! a platform designed to allow the region’s growing community of SME technology companies to showcase their organisation to potential investors and business leaders. 

CoInnovate 2016 will bring world leading innovators together to explore new and exciting ways to collaborate, better aligning resources and, develop new products and solutions to address market opportunities and challenges. 

The conference has been organised by a number of organisations, including IQE plc, Airbus Group Endeavr Wales, General Dynamics UK, the ESTnet (the technology network for Wales), the University of South Wales and Welsh Government. The event has also attracted a number of multinational sponsors such as Microsemi and Sony.

Following the outstanding success of CoInnovate 2015, this year’s conference will focus on providing business opportunities in the aerospace and defence, life sciences, medical device and diagnostics and the power, energy and transport sectors. 

Pitch Live! will run on the conference’s opening day, but those taking part will need to be quick as they will only be given three minutes on stage to promote their capabilities to an expert panel of judges and a predicted 200 strong delegate audience. 

On the day judges will be looking for inspirational technology that delivers real value and shows a feasible route for growth and implementation. Judges will also give extra consideration for pitches that seek to work with collaborative partners. 

Pitch Live! is free to enter for SMEs looking meet potential collaborators, take their technology to market, or grow their network. In order to secure a place businesses must submit a 60 second mixed media presentation by 5pm 30th September. Submissions will then be reviewed by a review panel against the judging criteria.

Pitch Live! is sponsored by the ESTnet, the technology network for Wales. Avril Lewis, managing director of the ESTnet, commented: “As the voice of Wales’ technology sector, we are dedicated to supporting the growth of its pioneering SME community by providing new opportunities to raise profile and secure new business.
“CoInnovate 2016 offers the chance to show the world all that Wales has to offer. Bringing world leading businesses, ambitious SMEs and academia together in the spirit of collaboration is a demonstration of the innovation eco-system we are helping to develop here. 

“Pitch Live! offers young ambitious companies a foot in the door with real decision makers. If you represent a company that is looking to take the next step, I urge you to grab this chance to sell yourself to this influential audience.”  

For further information on uploading Pitch Live! video entries, or CoInnovate 2016 please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Delegates can register for their free place at CoInnovate 2016 at www.coinnovate.co.uk
 

Macmillan Coffee Morning with Temp2Perm Housing


"It's the scrummiest month of the year!" 

Temp2Perm Housing of indycube Cardiff Bay are hosting a coffee morning to support Macmillan Cancer care. The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer.

Coffee and tea will be served with pastries and an array of cakes in the small front office, so come along and join in! All are welcome - you don't even have to be a star baker, you can pop in to any of the local bakeries down the Bay and pick something up, or just bring yourself and a smile!

Donations can be made on the day, which will include natter, good company, prizes, (including a beautiful baking pack fro the best baker), competitions and A LOT of cake!!

Get involved by contacting Claire on 02920 095200. Let them eat cake we say!

Need some inspiration? Check out these yummy recipes!

We're becoming a Community Benefit Society - join us to celebrate!

Thursday September 29th @ Indycube, Trade Street, Cardiff - 5pm

indycube becomes a Community Benefit Society! Come along to our Trade Street location in Cardiff to hear all about what's changed with indycube and how you can become a member and shape the future decisions regarding the company.

There will be refreshments, an opportunity to meet other associates and a chance to see our revamped Trade Street location, amid news of further expansion for indycube in mid, north and west Wales.

Let us know if you can make it by clicking 'attending' on Facebook - See you there!

 

Why you shouldn't hate Mondays


If you're praying for the weekend, you might be in the wrong job. Happy workers don't count down the hours and days until they can escape from work, working only to survive and pay the rent/mortgae. We all need a reasonable work-life balance, but we need to enjoy what we do so much so that it doesn't feel like work. 
Of course, that's not to suggest that we shouldn't be grateful for a lie in and some down time every now and then!

Half of all UK workers want to change careers, while unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one. That's a massive and significant margin, and it's time we got to the bottom of it.

Research suggests that less working hours means happier employees. On controversial advice from Robert Owens, Ford introduced 8 hour work days as opposed to the then standard 14, and saw the company's profits rise two fold. The figures speak for themselves, and it doesn’t have to end there.

At indycube, we believe how long we work isn't important, it's what we do with our time. Ramping up productivity could be down to your mindset, motivation or even your workspace, rather than the hours you put in. (For example, studies have shown that green surroundings improve creativity and imagination.)

The primary difficulty here, once you’ve tackled employers and working schedules, is cultural. Guilt over not working conventional hours can be strong willed, but it’s worth challenging those deep-rooted social, cultural and personal standards that we live by. As a creative person, who works best at night, I am well aware that my best ideas come at certain times of day, when I am most relaxed and at ease. And yet, I feel massive guilt and often the need to justify myself when I’m caught in my pjs at lunch time!

According to The Guardian, "A top public health doctor recently said that long working hours was a big cause of mental ill health, and a big 2015 study linked long working hours with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease." What better reason is there to cut back your hours and take some taboo time out during the week?

Thanks to my flexible working schedule, I don't hate Mondays, (although the Sunday night blues aren't necessarily exclusive to those working 9-5!) Of course, many individuals will have to tackle employers when it comes to setting their own hours, but for those who are self-employed or freelance, I'd recommend considering which working hours work best for YOU, rather than being dictated to by social norms.

Work better, not more!

www.lunar-ink.cymru
@mariiellis

Free employment law masterclass

Employment Law Masterclass
September 1st
9:30am-12:30pm
The Village Hotel Club, Cardiff
*Free*

Avensure support small to medium businesses by hosting nationally funded seminars that teach Employment Law & HR and the importance of thorough documentation. This September they’re running an event for Business Owners discussing issues such as Disciplinary Procedures and Part-Time staff as well as the proper policies required to protect your organisation from any damages.

The event is for Owners/Directors and those at Executive Level.

The event itself would begin at 09:30am and ends at 12:30pm with refreshments at 10:00am. The Event is on the 1st September. Law Specialist will be covering the updates in legislation that will affect employers, with topics such as:

·       Changes to minimum wage

·       Changes to employee grievance procedures

·       Sickness and absenteeism

·       Employee disciplinary procedures

·       Employee dismissal

·       Misconduct/gross misconduct offences

·       Social media policies at work

It’s a free to attend event that discusses proper policy implementation to protect small businesses from any employee or volunteer and in exchange for attendance they’ll receive:

·         Voucher for Online Health & Safety Courses

·         Voucher for HSE Poster (which is a legal requirement)

·         On-Site Health & Safety Evaluation by our Consultant

·         Free Q&A with Employment Law Specialist

Email Katherine to reserve your place - KatherineWhittam@avensure.com

Women:In - Be the change you want to see

Are you a young woman ready to kick start your career? Or are you at a point in your career where you need a fresh challenge?

Career Women Wales are introducing their Women:In programme, a scheme for those looking to become 'career trailblazers' or social leaders, in partnership with the British Council.

Career Women Wales was born two years ago when its founder, Sarah Rees, was struggling to find opportunities that wouldn't mean taking a backwards step in her career, following the birth of her first baby. Shockingly, she had been made redundant by her employer at the time, which inspired her to build a platform for women who were looking for flexible work opportunities.

"When you empower women, you empower the next generation."

Career Women Wales now deliver training and one-to-one support for women who, like Sarah, have had time out of work, or feel stuck in a rut career-wise. Their new scheme, Women:In, which launched last night at Chwarae Teg in Cardiff, has been put together by Sarah, together with Sally Hughes. The Women:In programme is a great opportunity to grow your network, build confidence and self awareness, develop skills for social action, improve your employability and develop your career. It is a unique chance to gain access to travel and meet people across the globe, as well as creating positive change locally by developing a SEED funded Social Action Project (SAP)†.

"This project is all about women connecting. What happens when we connect is often  unexpected and inspiring."

Helen, who took part in the Active Citizen Project with sprung Women:In, said the scheme changed her life. "I had the opportunity to go to Sudan, and it was just an amazing experience. The women and girls and mothers there all had the same sort of problems we did." Upon returning to the UK, Helen set up a social action project to supply Sudan with clean water, then set up a women's institute in her own village, using techniques she had learned through the Active Citizens group. "It really opened my eyes. I've done a lot of things in my life but none like this."

Women:In is for young women at the start of their journey into the world of work who want to amplify the voices of girls in Wales, and women who are looking for the next step into leadership, looking to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset to develop their careers. Participants will be supported during the programme to develop ideas which can create sustainable change in their local communities. Career Women Wales have a small fund which will be distributed across the projects to help these projects become reality.

The closing date for applications is September 5th. More information can be found via the Career Women Wales website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

IFTTT for Small Business Owners

Whether you're a small business owner, interested in marketing, fitness or just generally want to make things a little easier, give IFTTT a go!

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a platform which gives users creative control over their apps. You can create or utilise pre-developed 'recipes,' which are made up of triggers and actions.

For example, "Get an email notification when your company is mentioned on Reddit," or "Automatically post your Facebook Page status to your LinkedIn profile."

IFTTT for Small Business Owners

There are a lot of recipes which could be useful for those who run a small business, including tracking work hours, automatically saving receipts to Evernote, and recording where and when you received a business card via Google Calendar.

From the tinkering I've done so far, the recipes do seem to work best with Android phones rather than with iphones, and certain things I'd like to be able to set up don't seem possible, but there are some handy recipes for day to day life too.

IFTTT for life

For example, you can set your mobile phone to loudly play a song of your choice, (I'd suggest Bananaphone) when you text 'lost phone' to your own number, even if it's on silent! That'll definitely save a lot of hunting behind the sofa...

You can also set your wallpaper to Nasa's image of the day, and post a status to Twitter when you reach your daily step goal (if you want to be one of those people...)

I've got a bit more exploring to do, but it looks like a promising platform at the moment! Let us know which recipes work well for you.

 

*Free Event* Online Seller UK Meetup - Newport

Monday, 19th September
17:30 to 20:00

This will be Online Seller UK's third event in 2016. The event will focus on multichannel selling.

This event is free for online sellers and retailers - it's also an excellent opportunity to network with other online sellers and meet with industry experts in a comfortable setting.

If you are a first time visitor, you might want to take a look at some Past event photos to find out what to expect. 

The topics this meet up will cover are:

#1 Amazon FBA, Importing from China 

#2 Google Adwords for eCommerce - Best Practices

#3 The Basics of Local SEO

See Eventbrite for more informaiton and to book your free place.

Working to get girls into school with Lola and Me

"Equality is for everyone, not just for those privelleged enough to fight for it."

Lola and Me are a small fashion brand who operate from indycube Newport. You can find their original designs on Not on the Hightstreet and in person in Crafted, Friar's Walk.

This Summer, Heidi and Jon set about taking Lola and Me in a new direction. Lola and Me have always valued ethical employent and fair wages, and now they're taking their values one step further - all the way to Guatemala, actually!

#ForWomanKind

#ForWomanKind is part of the brand's scheme to get more women and girl's into education. With 33 million less girls than boys recieving education at primary school level, there are endless reasons that girls deserve equal rights to education, fair trade and more prosperous futures. Heidi's wonderful video, filmed during her time overseas sourcing ethical workers, can explain better than I can, so make sure you watch it.

The Crowdfunder

Pledge anywhere between £3 and £400 to back this project and recieve a beautiful handmade Lola and Me item. Choices range from bangles handmade in Haiti using ethically sourced goat horn, to weekender bags made in Guatemala.

We believe in equal opportunities for women around the globe - do you?

See more on Lola and Me or pledge to their crowdfunder.

 

Fluidity in coworking and business

Today, we moved indycube Bridgend to a whole new location... Well, it's not all that new... In fact it's just down the hall. This is the second time we've relocated within the Bridge Innovation Centre, adapting to the needs of our associates and those running the building.
We needed to run the hoover over and clean up a little, but we don't mind change - in fact, it's the only thing we can ever be certain of. Ed (GoRookie) put up a few hooks and a brand new clock to spruce the place up, and we will continue to encourage our members to bring in and pimp out their own desk spaces.
Work with us in Bridgend or try out a Free Day Pass.
@indyc_bridgend