If the Shoe Fits: You Can Change the Dialog

If the Shoe Fits: You Can Change the Dialog

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

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The uncivil war between Bay Area techies and the rest of the citizenry is common knowledge.

London is facing similar problems, as exemplified by what’s happening in Shoreditch, a rundown neighborhood in East London (think the Mission before tech discovered it) now a home to co-working spaces from the likes of Google.

While it is gentrifying rapidly, with housing prices rising 17% last year, and hipsters and 20somethings moving in all boats aren’t being lifted by the tide.

Over the same period, however, the level of child poverty in the area remained one of the highest anywhere in London, according to the Child Poverty Action Group, a local charity, while unemployment now stands  around 11 percent, well above the national average.

But a different approach is being taken by some of the tech crowd, in order to craft sustainable, long-term solutions, rather than throwing a few million dollars (which is a rounding error to companies such as Google and Facebook) here and there.

To build bridges between the two communities, a group of local tech founders has started to run monthly programs to connect successful entrepreneurs with those who either have nontech businesses or who want to start their own company.

Over three hours, Niklas Zennstrom, a co-founder of Skype and Richard Reed, a co-founder of the British smoothie maker Innocent Drinks, shared business advice and marketing tips with the small business owners, including the founder of a local fitness company and a maker of custom bike clothes.

Think about it.

How much time/effort would it really take to stop by the small businesses near you, invite them to discuss and brainstorm ways and means to grow their businesses over coffee and even set up a similar mentoring program?

Besides helping them you may be surprised at how much you learn through the interactions.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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